Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Warm Earthy Goodness..In a Cup!

   With a chill in the air our souls long for soothing warmth. After a nice chilly trek to the barn or a stroll through the garden, it's a treat to be greeted by the earthy warmth of fresh chi tea.
   Over the years we have experimented with various brands and methods of chi tea and settled for two top faves: black spice and mint green. Using a few on hand spices and some standard loose tea (our store sells loose teas by the pound)- a little milk and honey- yum, yum.

  Black Spicy Chi Tea

2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cardamon seeds
10 whole cloves
5 cups of water

Bring this to a boil in a saucepan. Lower heat to a simmer, then add..

1/4 cup black tea leaves

Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Strain and add..

1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
3 cups milk

Serve warm or chilled- delicious! 
We occasionally add a dried lemon slice or a dried orange slice to the spice mix for variety and vitamin C.

Now...the mint version.

Minty Green Chi Tea

Same spice mix as above; brought to a boil and turned to a simmer before adding:

1/4 cup green tea leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves (or 4 mint tea bags)

Simmer for 15 minutes before straining. Then add the vanilla, honey, milk from previous recipe. Again, great hot or cold! I also like this with the dried citrus option from precious recipe..or without the mint.

   Warm cup of earthy goodness, a fireplace and a quilt--the parts of a wonderful chilly afternoon! Now curl up and enjoy your own--I will:)

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Items for the Shop

   This weekend's sewing session was full of gathering and pressing and yielded three lovely prairie dolls; each one unique in her own way. Green spring floral, warm brown calico and homespun quilt print fabric make pretty dresses and bonnets for these handmade muslin dolls; just right for a special little girl in your life or for a homespun display.
   Prairie dolls will be listed in my shop this Wednesday- commission orders available.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It Is Sunday.,..


"By whom the world is crucified unto me, 
and I unto the world."
Galatians 6:4
If I brood of the Cross of Christ, I do not become a subjective pietist, interested in my own whiteness; I become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ's interests. Our Lord was not a recluse nor ascetic, He did not cut himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in another world. He was so much in the ordinary world that the religious people of His day called Him a glutton and a wine-bibber. Our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual energy.
The counterfeit of consecration is the conscious cutting off of things with the idea of storing spiritual power for use later on, but that is a hopeless mistake. The Spirit of God has spoiled the sin of a great many, yet there is no emancipation, no fullness in their lives. The kind of religious life we see abroad today is entirely different from the robust holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." We are to be in the world but not of it; to be disconnected fundamentally, not externally.
We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual energy. Consecration is our part, sanctification is God's part; and we have deliberately to determine to be interested only in that in which God is interested. The way to solve perplexing problems is to ask _Is this the kind of thing in which Jesus Christ is interested, or the kind of thing in which the spirit that is the antipode of Jesus is interested?

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Prairie Thanksgiving

   As fall brings chill to the wide open prairie plans are made for the big day of gathering. Grandma starts her cooking weeks before the actual day: pies and treats fill the farm kitchen with tempting aromas. Grandpa busies himself along the pasture fences..repairs are needed to keep the cattle safe. Travel plans are set for those far away; they return to the prairie for the holidays.
   Grandma sets me to scrubbing every corner; every shelf and section. Polish the silver and dust the good dishes..the day of gathering comes soon! Card tables are set in front of the sliding back door..pretty table cloths are lay over top. This is for the cousins to sit at; a kids' table for the gathering. A few paper turkeys, leaves and pumpkin decorations are pulled from the storage space in the basement. I place them here and there around the living room to make a festive scene.
   The day draws near; aunts and uncles join the mass. Good thing Grandma had me washing and changing sheets all week...every bed is full with family. Two Siamese have decided to hide; they do not like a full house...neither do I. Slipping about the corners I seek every opportunity to scoot out the door for a romp in the chilly prairie wind.
   A day of thanks arrives with turkey sizzling in the olive green oven..regular basting sends the tantalizing aroma drifting through the house. I am tearing bread for the dressing, much to my disdain. My personal least favorite dish..dressing. Soggy bread, turkey 'parts', oysters..gag. Every other dish on the table- total yummy goodness..but not the dressing!
   Grandmothers pass plates as the aunts chatter and laugh. Grandpa sets with his pepper shaker ready to attack all that good cooking with his strange habit. Uncles tease and pester while cousins slip in-between adults for 'one more roll' or 'a bit more potato'. So much food. So much family, and everyone has their place. The meal seems to last all afternoon- nibbling and catching up over 'just another taste'.
   Evening falls to find the cousins playing behind the couch where the little toy box sets; adults sip warm beverages accompanied by pies and cakes. One by one we start to trickle off to bed..our dreams filled with the delights of the day. Leftovers will be eaten tomorrow...the routine will repeat until each guest heads back to their home leaving us to ponder the next gathering...the next prairie Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 25, 2011

   Family gathers around the table; enticing aromas drew them in. Teens share space with grandparents as stories travel over delectable food made the slow traditional way. Sun sets with pies and plans; another holiday coming so soon.

   I hope you all had a wonderful, memory filled gathering filled with gratitude and love.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

From our house to yours; may you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pondering a Better Path

   It's so easy, isn't it? To let the 'holiday crazy' sneak into your mindset and terrorize your home. I refuse to go there...flat refuse. Commercial images of fat turkeys and perfectly pristine homes decorated with expensive non-necessities make me sick. We have forgotten what is important...what the purpose is..and, it's sad.
   While clipping hooves this week I pondered the traditions of my family over the years...the gatherings and preparings of Thanksgiving days. They were never elaborate or overdone...stressful, well, yes...but not overloaded with 'stuff'. Food and family...friends and fun..where has it gone?

   I am determined to tune the focus of my home this once again reclaim the attitude of gratitude so desperately missing from our hearts and minds. This cannot be done with fancy decor or elaborate, that isn't where it's through the togetherness of preparation and the peace of gatherings.
   When my house was full of children we set our month of November to learning about our heritage; the pilgrims, their plight, our family lineage, the natives and God's provision. Our activities focused on gratitude..reviewing the graces we had been given and praying for those in need. Meals were shared with family...decorations were simple, often handmade, focusing our hearts on being thankful..on being who we are.
   Those children turned to teens when I wasn't looking. Their minds are so busy with education and shift their focus is a get them all home at the same time is a challenge. Our conversations lately show their distaste for the 'commercial craze'..I'm so grateful...and leaning more toward a desire for simplicity. Asking to hear that story one more time...sharing memories of the 'little things' we use to do.
   Our thanksgiving will be a simple one. Small family gathered here on the farm; no elaborate decor, no fancy 'picture perfect' gourmet meal. It will be a sharing of tradition, a time of remembrance, a gathering bustle around the kitchen with busy hands preparing favored sit with family chatting and remember the past and the togethers from then to now.
   My heart craves the simpler path...the way of those long ago whose focus was on the graces of God and His merciful provision...the ponderings of a better path.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

WIP: Busy Hands All Around

   Gift giving season is creeping upon us causing busy hands all around. The corners of our home transform into little nests of activity..each creative mind has plans and purpose as the products they dream up pour through their hands into purposeful reality.

   My corner holds little prairie doll parts and their dress pieces...hopefully a few for the shop!

Nearby Jen has a knitting project in the works..well, plus a filet crochet piece and a commission scarf. We share scissors back and forth...chatting as we go.

Nik has pen in hand sitting just across from me. The only sound she makes is the scritch-scratch of her pencil as she forms shape and shade. 

Farm boy J has wood work on his mind. He prefers a spot on the floor or the table in the other room...sometimes he likes his distance from all this female activity.

   Busy minds and busy hands keeping our focus on giving more than receiving. We ponder who would love this or that...where this item would best find a home... and savor the moments of togetherness has we share time with busy hands all around.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Farmhouse Foods: Double Pie Crust

   Every pie maker has their 'go-to' recipe for pie crust- I am no different. My pie crust recipe has been handed down through the generations.

   I come from a long line of pie makers. Making a pie was like a right of passage in our were a 'real woman' when you turned out a tender crust and a sweet filling. The fancy pie maker in my line of farm women is my mother. Her crusts were infamous: light and flaky with a soft egg wash that held a dust of crunchy sugar. Lattice work fruit pies were her most requested works of art.


2 cups flour
3/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice cold water

Before I begin, I chill my mixing bowl as well as the ingredients (before mixing them).

In a chilled mixing bowl, sift flour with salt. Cut in the chilled shortening until it resembles a coarse meal. Gently stir in the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough 'comes together'. 
Divide the dough in two parts and shape as a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill at least one hour before use.
This makes ahead and freezes well.

   This pie crust has been used over the years for sweet pies as well as savory. Flaky and tender..the key is exactly what your grandmother told you---don't over work it! I have to confess, my oldest daughter (a rough and tough rodeo farmgirl) makes a better pie crust than I do...who knew? This year, just for good measure, our farm boy tried his hand at pie crust with a savory chicken pot pie. Let me just say..he put me to shame! 
   In preparation for the upcoming thankful dinner, pie crusts are prepped and chilling in the fridge..waiting silky chocolate cream and custardy pumpkin fillings...yum!
   Now, who's hungry for a good old fashioned pie?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It Is Sunday


"In whom we have...
the forgiveness of sins."
Ephesians 1:7

Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God- God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That sentiment has no place whatever in the New Testament. The only ground on which God can forgive us in the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ; to put forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive sin and reinstate us in His favor is though the Cross of Christ, and in no other way. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary. It is possible to take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification with the simplicity of faith, and to forget at what enormous cost to God it was all made ours.
Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace; it cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a holy God. Never accept a view of the Fatherhood of God if it blots out the Atonement. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive; He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the Atonement. God's forgiveness is only natural in the supernatural domain.
Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is slight. Sanctification is simply the marvelous expression of the forgiveness of sins in a human life, but the thing that awakes the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin. Paul never got away from this. When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Somethin' From the Oven

   Gathering with family from out of town; lots of great foods on the menu. One of the most requested foods from my kitchen are Amish Potato Rolls. This soft dough is slightly sweet and as soft as a pillow- yummy goodness (especially right from the oven)!


(yield approximately 3 doz small rolls)

1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed potato
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 pkg yeast
5 cups flour

Mix together well the sugar, potatoes, shortening, eggs and salt. 
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water then add to the sugar/potato mixture.
Stir in 3 to 4 cups of the four. Add remaining flour while kneading. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky but moist. 
Cover. Let rise until double (approximately 1 hour).
Roll dough to 1" thickness. Cut into buns shapes with a jar or biscuit cutter. Place on lightly greased baking sheet about 2" apart. Let thiem rise until puffy but not doubled (approximately 30 minutes).
Brush with milk. Bake in 325 degree oven until lightly golden brown, approximately 12 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack. They store well in an airtight container and freeze beautifully.

Pictured is my mother's favorite dinner roll shape; the clover roll. She did not use the same recipe I do, however, her honey wheat bread was always formed in clovers for holiday dinners. To make a clover, lightly grease muffin tins. Pinch a piece of dough the size of a walnut and gently shape a ball. Place three balls per cup (touching). Proceed with baking directions. She also brushed her rolls with melted butter after baking (as I did here). 

  Today the rolls are wrapped in my favorite kitchen towel and tucked in my best basket- we're off for a day of visiting. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Became of a Day

   It began with a thought that led to a search. By noon I was sitting on the floor of the room surrounded by patterns and fabric; mind whirling with ideas and plans.
   The cutting mat was set up as patterns were placed and traced.

   The evening came as different parts became a whole; seems were sewn and hems were stitched. Darkness fell as lace was added to trim here and there.

   There she sat- the little prairie girl in her best homespun. Her bonnet gathered round her face with a brim to shade from the sun. A dress of gathers and lace just right for her happy farm day. Here in a day a pretty prairie doll came to be.

   As my hands worked diligently at the machine a busy woodpecker could be heard just outside my window. Hammer and tap; he skittered about the old oak tree searching and gathering while I was stitching and tacking.

   The end of the day brought quiet peace; the woodpecker stopped his chores and the sewing machine fell silent. Our task finished. A beautiful result left...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back to the Prairie: Earth Between My Toes

   It was a long standing battle between my grandmother and me whether or not shoes should remain on my feet. In my prairie home flip flops were just for swimming pools; tennis shoes or boots were made for farm feet. Yet, whenever my soul found its way near the soft fertile soils of home, temptation would get the best of me..and I would undoubtedly end up with dirt between my toes. 

   Basket loaded, shoes on my feet, I head away from the big farmhouse off to the far fields to find my grandfather. Over the dusty roads I ride as fast as my petals can hair tears free from binding braids as the sun warms my skin. The blue farm truck is spotted just ahead.
   I pull up to the truck and climb in the bed..stretching tall I have wildly with hope he sees me from the combine. Standing there my eyes close as I breathe deep the scent of the fields: rich nutrient dense soil, nutty stalks of grain, the heat and oil of massive farm machinery. Breath.
   My ears soak up the sound of birds singing from the tree lines..they're just waiting to swoop down on the grain fields. The combine's steady hum; its blades whirl over the stalks. Wind swishes and whirls scattering dust.
   Grandpa startles me from my wonder ready for the afternoon snacks I brought. The tailgate is lowered for us to sit together and share jars of iced tea and a melon fresh from the garden. His handy pocket knife swiftly slices the melon as he sends me to the cab of the truck for the pepper shaker. Never in all my days have I ever seen anyone ruin a melon like Grandpa....pepper scatters over his piece of melon like a blanket. My scrunchy expression makes him laugh - puts hair on you chest- well, that settles it for me...I don't want pepper or hair on my chest.
   Here in the fields we are to spit melon seeds as far as we to dangle our legs and swing them with reckless to giggle and chatter in the open prairie. Grandpa's eyes twinkle; his smile as big as the sky...he understands a farm girl.
   I shed my shoes hopping down from the tailgate. Jump and run and twirl with delight! Standing at the edge of the field I dig my toes deep into the soft cool earth..soil and sun...and earth between my toes!

   To this day I can be found standing at the edge of the fields, shoes left at the gate...a trail of footprints leading to the soft tilled soil. Yes, even now, the temptation over takes my face turns toward the sun, my eyes close. Breathing deep the scents of the farm  and listening to the sounds of life...even now, I wiggle deep down and get a good feel of earth between my toes!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just Before the Storm

   In the busy of homestead life comes a storm; a storm of busy-ness, of chaos, of weather. Yesterday was one of those days--a day for storms. But in the moments just before my feet took me walking through the tea garden to find:

Fresh spearmint so lush and green. 
My hand brushed over the plentiful leaves 
stirring their fresh clean fragrance.

Cinnamon basil's striking display
of purple seed sets 
rising from soft green foliage.
Leaning in close
the fragrance stirs thoughts
of comfort and home.

Lemon basil so light and pretty.
White seed heads invite 
tiny bees with their 
spicy citrus scent.
It makes me crave pesto pasta.

Then, striking opal basil; 
red ruffled leaves
scented with strong flavor
stirring thoughts of pizza

   There among the pruned rose stalks, tucked near the salvias and citrus, the bees danced among the basil sipping the last bits of goodness...just before the storm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My "crazy-getting-ready" for Thanksgiving list:
once again, bring the history of the holiday to my homeschool
make lists; several of them-then try to remember where I put them
the menu- why do we need so much food?
the groceries; did I mention shopping makes me ugly
the set house is not conductive to large get-togethers
pray- no, gatherings don't drive you to prayer?
cleaning- funny how that one is really going to look in the pantry, are they?
looking at everyone's work schedule and wondering why I bother

sitting on the green bench under the oak 
sipping warm coffee
listening to barn life
the list


Monday, November 14, 2011

Why I Quilt

Homespun Stars Quilt 'in progress'

   Every so often the question is asked--Why do you quilt? Well, it sure isn't for the money! So, ten reasons why I quilt.

1. I love it!
2. It's relaxing.
3. The fabric speaks to me (can you hear it?).
4. Old quilt tops need my love and attention ( I love finishing them!).
5. To keep the skills alive; handquilting is fading from us.
6. Hand made quilts are treasures to pass on to my children.
7. I love the joy it brings someone to receive (or purchase) one of my quilts!!
8. A quilt embodies warmth and memories.
9. Quilts in my home are thrifty--I love to repurpose things!
10. Every quilt I make holds pieces of my family (their handwork, fabric from their lives, etc).

   There you have it. My top ten reasons why I quilt.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

It Is Sunday...


"The Son of God, who loved me,
and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20
We have to battle through our moods into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus, to get out of the hole-and-corner business of our experience into abandoned devotion to Him. Think Who the New Testament says that Jesus Christ is, and then think of teh despicable meanness of the miserable faith we have- I haven't had this and that experience! Think of what faith in Jesus Christ claims- that He can present us faultless before the throne of God, unutterably pure, absolutely rectified, and profoundly justified. Stand in implicit adoring faith in Him, He is made unto us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." How can we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! Our salvation is from hell and perdition, and then we talk about making sacrifices!
We have to get out into faith in Jesus continually; not a prayer meeting Jesus Christ, nor a book Jesus Christ, but the New Testament Jesus Christ Who is God Incarnate, and Who ought to strike us to His feet as dead. Our faith must be in the One from Whom our experience springs. Jesus Christ wants our absolute abandon of devotion to Himself. We never can experience Jesus Christ, nor ever hold Him within the compass of our own hearts, but our faith must be built in strong emphatic confidence in Him.
It is along this line that we see the rugged impatience of the Holy Ghost against unbelief. All our fears are wicked, and we fear because we will not nourish ourselves in our faith. How can anyone who is identified with Jesus Christ suffer from doubt or fear! It ought to be an absolute paean of perfectly irrepressible, triumphant belief.

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taking a Quiet Day

Setting aside a day to just be...quiet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In the Greenhouse

   Fall in the south means dips and peaks of warm to cold temps leaving gardeners with some what of a challenge. Woods bordering our land and the presence of our own mischievous herds add even more obstacles to food production. One aid to the cause is our greenhouse.
   Our greenhouse is a solar hoop house with wooden facing, metal frame structure, and 6 mil UV resistant greenhouse film. This greenhouse came together from much prayer and cooperation; built by my little families' hands.  It has been a vital part of our homestead for around six years now and with stood hail, sheer winds and three tornadoes (of which our house suffered :)).

   Seedlings are started in the south facing side; sawhorse tables are there. Under the tables pots are stored near bins of soil.

   A small set of shelves holds supplies (spray bottles, water jugs, etc.) and tubs holding folded frost cloths. This shelf is right inside the door for easy access on those surprise frost warnings.

   A surprise treat was waiting for me when the girls and I returned home from a mission trip last year; my men had put in a concrete path down the center of the greenhouse. Little stepping stones formed from concrete and a frame...perfect!

   The farmboy and I are experimenting with SIPs (self irrigating planters) this year and have placed them in the greenhouse. They are doing such a great job! Tomatoes, zucchini squash and basil are thriving nicely.

   Just recently we started digging up the herbs and housing them in the greenhouse- extending them for a bit longer. I love to stroll through the herbs and brush my hand over them releasing their fragrant aromas..delightful.

   Late yesterday we planted one of the soil beds with various winter greens: chard, kale, spinach and lettuce mix. Hopefully there will be little sprouts popping up soon.

   The darkest of winter days no matter how grey and bleak the outdoors seems to be, in the greenhouse there is life and color; warmth and aroma-- a respite in gloomy days. Here is my quiet place when I need a moment away from the emotions and demands of day in and day out living. Here there is the hope of the greenhouse.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to the Prairie: The Big Cherry Tree

   Farm life has always been a joy to me; the chores and duties so fulfilling. Each season with it's work; each month with different tasks to undertake. One particular seasonal job just never made it to my favorites list, and to this day, does not exist on my little farm.

    Trees on the prairie are few and far between; I loved them. Laying under their canopy to gaze at the big blue sky through their tops, and investigating the unique details of their leaves...I love spending time in the trees. Among the lovelies there on the farm was the cherry tree.
    Planted just behind Grandpa's workshop, just to the side of the garden, the cherry tree towered majestically over the roof top and spanned its mighty branches over the old water pump. Tiny pink blossoms seemed to float among the leaves overhead evoking fantasy and imagination. In time the tiny blossoms would float to the ground leaving a blanket of pink to tickle my toes as I skipped over them.
   The cherry tree wasn't just a thing of great wonder and beauty, it was a symbol of work and provision. Picking, packing, and canning would flow from the amazing cherry tree...days of it. Cherry season seemed to last forever and it put a serious dent in my 'field time'. 
    Sending me here and there to every nook and cranny around the farm sends suspicion through me like an electrical charge. With great hesitation I'd ask - where do you want them? Her answer confirmed my suspicion- under the cherry tree. I had seen the pink blossoms overhead while we tilled the soil. I also saw them disappear- which could only mean one thing: cherry picking season.
     Aunts and uncles gathered; Grandma had her scarf over her hair (so it didn't tangle in the branches). The long ladder was brought and placed against the mighty trunk of the tree. At this moment my vision blurs as my eyes travel way up to the high branches. Did I mention way up there. My fear of the basement pales in comparison to my fear of heights. It's one thing to dream about being in the tree; it's another to actually do it! Having a knack for asking me to do the strangest chores dear God, make me invisible- I slowly start looking for my escape; no sudden movements to catch their eye or I will me sent up the tree for sure!
     It is decided the adults will take turns while the rest of us haul the large buckets up to the house, but I am already busy 'nosey-ing around' the little garden tool shed. It's so small and cute; tucked just under the apricot tree. My wild imagination kicks in as I slip inside- fascinated my tools and hoses; old pots and watering stuffs---treasure! Whoops, busted. Get out of there before a snake finds you. Snake?!? Instant cure. Needless to say- snakes petrify me!
     The little wagon and wheel barrow are loaded with buckets; I pull the wagon while Grandma pushes the barrow..up the 'hill' gravel driveway to the farmhouse. Just inside the door they sit and back down the drive we go. Tempting thoughts fill my head what if I just jumped in and rode the wagon down the hill? like sledding! My wicked grin give me away- Grandma reminds me we have work to do. Foiled again!
     While actual cherry picking is terrifying the trips up the hill are kind of fun even though I am constantly reminded not to go too fast because it spills the buckets. However, the worst is yet to come; at least in the picking we are outside. Once a nice store of buckets is inside, I am sentenced to insufferable torture with no possible end in sight. On a little metal stool I sit with the tiniest parring knife ever made and the biggest bucket you have ever seen. Do you know how many cherries are in big bucket? Or how long it takes to split, pit and pick over them? Oh, no! I am convinced death would be better. Cinderella never had it this bad--or Snow White; the books never mention them pitting millions of cherries by hand--while the sun is shining and fields are being plowed; while butterflies are waking up and wiggly worms are squiggling around.
     Sensing my indignation, my great-grandmother plants herself nearby. She has been washing jars and rings all day- that couldn't have been any better. Together we sit, enslaved by the cherries with sticky red juice staining our fingers and dripping off our elbows. One by one the aunts trickle in leaving more and more buckets of bright red cherries. Eventually they themselves at a task. Sweet syrupy fragrance wafts through the big farm kitchen as Grandma is starting to cook them; the bubbling pot like a cauldron in this dungeon of drudgery. I try real hard to imagine these cherries in the pot bursting in the heat  and soaking up the sugar like a sponge..somehow, this really doesn't help.
     Worm! Cutting into the cherry in my hand reveals a nasty white little bugger- ewe! Just flick it out and keep going. You have got to be kidding. Trying not to gag, I 'flick it out' and attempt to move on, but knowing it is in the pit bucket convinces me it is staring at me- waiting to seek revenge. Great grandma give me a nudge and a smile to encourage me on. Thinking real hard, I try letting my imagination set me free- to the sunshine and wind..but I can' know, worm!
     Canning is starting now; the old olive colored pressure canner is whistling from the stove top. I have seen that thing pop a jar--good grief, canning is dangerous! Jars set to cool on the big island counter; pings and pops let us know the job is done right. These will be waiting for their call to serve in pies and cobblers in the year to come.
    For the 'umteenth' time I slip past my grandmother it for a sip of water, a trip to the bathroom--taking my time to get back to the yucky cherry pitting. Can't you sit still and finish a job? My grandmother is losing her patience with me..yes I can, if it isn't cherry pitting. Sure glad that didn't come out of my mouth- just stuck there in my head.
     Once more at the buckets I sigh, doomed to the duty. We will never get all these cherries done. Great grandma senses my plight. Understanding the wild heart of a little prairie girl she urges me run along for a while and stretch my legs. Hesitantly I peak over my shoulder for Grandma's approval, fearing she will keep me here. With a shake of her head and a half-grin, go on.
     Without a second thought I burst from my seat and fly out the back door--giving no mind to the fact I just slammed the screen again (I can just imagine the look on Grandma's face-oops). My little bare feet fly across the gravel to the prairie grasses; wind whips my hair and the sun kisses my face. I'm free! Free to find my grandfather in the field and get 'proper dirty' from head to toe. Free to wander the barn with the kittens or scavenge the tree line..ah, sweet freedom!

   Cherry season had its wonder; even amidst pitting and dripping among the buckets and buckets of fruit. The task may have been grueling, but time together was a treasure. The aunts gathered all around, grandmothers crinkled hands working next to crazy uncle up a tree! The sugary scent of cherry bubbling on the stove; the hiss of the canner followed by the pop of metal lids. The ultimate consolation to all the work came in the form of a flaky crust, lattice topped, sweeter than ought be allowed cherry pie. Can you just taste it? It has been years since I have had the privilege of a proper prairie cherry pie!