“Are you going to go over your bean patch today?” I hear the cheery voice of Youngest Brother in my ear as I am frying hamburger for casseroles for the Hymn Sing our church is having on Sunday.
“I sorta’ thought I might,” I answer, mentally juggling the day ahead of me, and wondering how I would get everything done. “I heard it’s supposed to get cold tonight,”
“They’re calling for frost,” says Mark, Jr., “I’m out here in my patch right now. Figured it wouldn’t hurt to go over them one last time, just in case.”
“Are you getting any?” I ask, though I figured he must be or he wouldn’t be asking about mine.
“I got that little blue bucket of Mama’s almost full,” he says, “not really all that many, but still some. I thought the way your patch has produced this year, maybe you were going to go over yours.”
“If it’s going to frost, I DO want to go over mine!” I look over the kitchen with the hamburger almost done, and get a few things out of the way, and then head out to my patch. Friends JR and Linda are with me, to see if there are any green peppers out there. They have in their heads to make coleslaw for the Hymn Sing, and the recipe calls for a few green peppers.
“I’m sure I have some,” I offer. Let’s go look!”
I have some alright!
In fact I have lots!
(That’s a five gallon bucket!)
JR and Linda only want a few, so the others will get given away or made into relish. JR and Linda take their peppers and head out to look for cabbage. I decide to pick my beans as quickly as I can. It’s cold out here today, and my house and my chair and my fire beckon me.
Last week’s frost wasn’t too hard on them, but the vines are definitely loosing their luster. I find some nice beans hanging amid the turning leaves as I make my way down one side and up the other and then start all over again.
Whoops, I did miss a few in the last picking!
There is a steady wind, and the chill settles into my bones. I wonder a time or two if it is really worth it. My hands feel stiff and awkward.
Oldest Son’s jacket that still hangs on the basement door is really warm, but it doesn’t help those fingers. I remember the hot, hot days of August when I picked beans and thought I would die of heat out there. The thought of those days keeps me plugging on. Besides, every time I think I’m going to quit, I find a whole big bunch of beans, all together on a heap, (as it often happens) and it inspires me to keep going.
Halfway through the first row, and pickup pulls in the chicken house lane, stopping me mid verse of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and an elderly man gets out and walks over to the garden. He wants to paint the chicken house roof. I tell him that we aren’t doing that right now. He wants a few cherry tomatoes that are falling off the vines in great abundance and I tell him to help himself. He does, then leaves and I go back to my row and my song.
Then the phone in my pocket rings. Eldest Daughter is stopping by with Love Bug, and I welcome the diversion, going over to the car window to talk to the little girlie who always gives my heart a song. While I’m talking to her, I notice a strange van parked in my driveway, and so I head to the house to see who might be coming to see me. Too late, I realize that I’ve been chosen (again!) to be visited by the members of a local cult that like to proselytize on days like this. I speak to them briefly, and then send them on their way. I really need to get these beans picked. The last time I went over the patch, I got two bushel. Today is not quite so beneficial.
But it is still a good amount, and Our Girl Audrey will shell them this evening for me and they will be a blessing to someone.
Before leaving the garden, I make a quick survey of the end of summer things there.
The ground cherries are almost all finished:
Certain Man’s steer comes over to the fence to see what I am doing.
He pokes his nose in my directions and snuffs at me with a disdainful sort of noise. I go into the barn where Certain Man has the straw stacked for the winter.
A barn cat, snuggled on the corner of the pile startles when I come in and disappears into the cracks somewhere. Our barn cats are not pets. They are servants. Keeping down the mouse population is an important job, and we appreciate their help.
Back out in the sunlight, I pick up my two buckets of produce (the peppers and the beans) and head for the house. Certain Man will be home before long, and I have lots to accomplish yet tonight. The countryside is peaceful, and the air is crisp. It’s a wonderful day to be alive.
Back in the house, it isn’t long until JR and Linda return, their mission successful. They found beautiful cabbage for only $1.50 a head at Tucker’s produce, and they get right to work on turning their seven or eight heads into coleslaw.
JR runs the food processor, dumping the cabbage, carrots, peppers and onion into my big old mixing container.
Linda mixed the dressing together, and then worked at getting everything thoroughly mixed.
It took a strong arm and some persistence
But things always go better when it’s a team effort!
Finally! Almost all done. The measurement on the side says about six gallons.
Do you think it will be enough???
Maybe. If we can just keep Mr. Campbell out of it!!! One way to do that is to distract him. He also is great at tuning pianos. One of his intentions for this day is to get the piano tuned that belongs to Certain Man’s Wife. So when the coleslaw is all made and some supper is eaten, he gets busy on the piano while the ladies get busy on the five big casseroles for Sunday’s Hymn Sing.
Doesn’t look like much here, but it is one wonderful casserole. (And we couldn’t have made it without great help.)
I know, I know, it looks like grand chaos, but it was really a great organizational feat! Ruby got things commandeered, and the gals really marched through it. Before we know what is happening, the food is all done and the kitchen is getting cleaned up at a remarkable rate.
What this picture doesn’t show is Mrs. Ilva’s irritation at the piano tuning that is going on. A musical soul, she is, and the never ending “plink, plink, plink” really is getting on her nerves. Especially when JR trills a scale and doesn’t quite finish it. At the end of the evening, she has quite enough. She and Shirley each get some money and march into the living room where JR is attentively slaving away on the piano.
“Here!” She says insistently. “We wanna’ give you this. We want you to go get some of them thar’ pianer lessins so that you can learn to play decent!”
He looks at them like — Well, you can pretty much tell how he is looking!
“We want you to get some of them thar’ lessins,” reiterates Ilva, “so’s you can learn how to finish them thar’ scales. You always leave off a note or two.” She plinks a few notes to demonstrate what she meant.
Poor JR. He is not impressed. And she finally gives up goes went home.
And when the casseroles and the coleslaw were safely in the fridge, and the kitchen was cleaned up yet again, I pull out the ingredients for yet another Hymn Sing specialty.
Before the morning service, we are having some “come on in, we’re so glad you’re here!” kinds of things — one of which is homemade cinnamon rolls. I mix up four batches of dough and get them into the fridge, and call it a day.
Well, not quite yet. For the first time in my computer career, I field three intense conversations at the same time — one with Eldest Daughter, one with Youngest Son, and one with my far away, almost a daughter, Lupe.
And then I find Certain Man asleep on his La-Z-Boy, and almost give him a heart attack when I rub his foot to wake him up. It’s eleven-thirty. And we really do call it a day. Climb that mountain to our comfy bed and I’m asleep almost before I can turn out the light.
Whew! What a grand, rewarding day. It was truly worth every minute!