Saturday, July 30, 2011

At the beach

Waves hit the shoreline

Children hunt for shells nearby.

Couples use sun block.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Picnc Basket

“Mother, would you teach me to make a pie, please?” asked Dawn, placing the last dried dish on the shelf above the stove.
“You want to impress the new boy, Miles Doogan, in class, that’s why all this interest in food.” Pat Duncan, her brother teased.
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That’s how I met your Pa,” Ma said. “Someone might catch your eye like that one day at The Berry Festival.”
I saw you pushing Alice on the swing during recess today.”
“I was only trying to be polite.”
The Doogans were a proud family, but not to proud to help their neighbors. May worked in a millinery shop before marrying and moving to Glenville Township right before the weather turned cold last fall. Allen worked as the local blacksmith right by the stables on his farm. Several times May would exchange a hat that didn’t sell at the general store for goods needed by the family. 
 “Not too soon I hope,” he said wrinkling his nose. “Alice’s face is covered in freckles and her hair is as orange as the carrots we picked in the field last time.”
Alice Miller was only five, and didn’t have a mother. She died soon after Alice was born. Edwina was a thin frail woman, always getting sick during odd weather. The strain of Alice’s birth was too much. Edwina never recovered. Her father Lee Miller traveled a lot, so the Doogans looked after her when he left town for long periods. May taught Alice manners and sewed nice clothes for the girl on her birthday and Christmas.
“Your hair is auburn. That’s almost red. Also, you’ve got three freckles on both your cheeks.
“Let’s not make fun, Ma said.” God made everyone different. In His eyes, Alice is beautiful. By the time Alice Miller is your sister’s age, she probably won’t have all those freckles and her hair won’t be so orange either. Both her parents have brown hair. Are all the chores outside finished?”
“I did mine.”
“Bedtime fore you, Pat, but wash up first.”
“Awe, Ma.”
I just said wash up first, not take a bath, young man.”
“Ok.”
“I still have to collect the eggs,” Dawn said, taking the egg basket from the peg by the stove and hurrying out the door to the chicken coop.
That stopped the discussion. Pat was still a boy at seven, not really interested in girls unless they played hoops or baseball during recess. He attracted dirt like a magnet. Dawn, at age eleven, was tall, fair-skinned and made friends with everyone, even the boys. It was only right that she take an interest in cooking. Most of the young girls were taught right along with the boys until harvest time. Most grew up and married farmers, needing to cook, clean, sew, and manage the farm accounts.

“Ma, will I ever get to make Grandma’s apple pie?” asked Dawn, yawning. Her brother, Pat, lie in the next bed, snoring on his back, which made Dawn and her mother giggle. The old Army blanket used for privacy was not a noise reducer.
“Is that the dessert you want to go in the picnic basket?”
“Yes, Pat didn’t want his pie, so I gave it to Miles.”
“Did he like the pie?’
“Yes, but he said apple was his favorite.”
I’ll let you make the pie for dinner for the rest of the week. If your Pa likes them, Grandma’s recipe will be in the basket on Sunday for the festival.”
“Oh, thank you, Ma,” Dawn said, hugging her mother’s neck.
“Alright now. Get some sleep.”

Schoolwork for the Duncan children wasn’t too hard. Dawn had trouble with fractions. Pat had trouble with reading. This didn’t stop their determination in getting the most out of their work. Pat understood math, so he helped his sister with fractions. Dawn helped Pat with his reading. The only time both had homework was during emergencies when school was called because of some epidemic. Chores were done with cooperation too. Dawn collected eggs, fed the chickens, and the cows. Pat cleaned the coop and the stalls in the barn. The chickens were temper mental and did not like Pat, unless he cleaned the coop. The female cows only let Pat near them when Pa was away, but tolerated Dawn when Pat was sick.
The Berry Festival marked the beginning of spring. Lot’s of engagements and marriages took place with the trading of picnic baskets. The young women wore spring like pale colors,
Pa loved sampling each of the pies his daughter made for dessert that week .He said food always tasted better homemade than at the Grange meeting he went to. Dawn squealed and clapped her hands, knowing that Grandma’s recipe would be in the basket on Sunday. By the time of the church social, Dawn had mastered her fractions as well as the art of making pies. Her brother Pat improved in reading that the teacher, Ms Butler, planned to move him up to third grade next term. Three baskets were packed for the social, one for the parents and one for each of the children. Dawn asked Alice for her favorite Sunday ribbon. At the last minute, Dawn was to tie the sky blue ribbon to the basket made for Pat.  Dawn tied a burgundy ribbon to her basket and tried to wear the same color dress, but Ma made her change into a pastel green..
“You don’t want to make yourself too obvious, dear.”
“I can’t wait to see the look on Pat’s face when he see the basket with the blue ribbon.” Dawn winked


“Slip this in the basket for Pat.” Dawn jumped a little when she heard a small squeaky voice behind her. Alice Miller had a wrapped gift in her outstretched hand.
“Where’s my brother?” Dawn asked, taking the package from Alice’s hand.
“Over with my Pa talking about horses.”
“That dress sure is pretty.”
“Thank you. Miles’ Ma made it for me. I like pale pink and ruffles. I almost forgot. Pa told me to thank you for making the picnic basket for me. He also said once the smoke house is built, you might have your pick of the smoked meat.”
“I’ll let my Pa know. Let’s take a stroll. Don’t want to make anyone suspicious.”
Alice winked.
Reverend Bale A hefty middle-aged man and our minister, said prayer before the picnic. Dawn heard a few people snoring in the back of the church, which doubled as the schoolhouse during the week. Sometime the circuit court judge would come from Saint Paul. The only major case in the last five years was whether Alice should be sent to an orphanage or fostered by the Doogans while her Pa went out of town.
            The young people lined up by age. The tradition of the ones that hadn’t learned to cook was to exchange gifts. My brother was surprised to learn that he had an admirer. Dawn’s intended chose her basket which thrilled her to her finger tips. Ma and Pa chaperoned Alice and Pat. Miles’ Pa and Ma sat with their son and myself. Alice’s father was called away after service and came over with a carpetbag of her belongings for the Doogan’s.
“Dawn, your brother loved my whistle!” Alice squealed.
“That’s what that was? Who made it?”
“My Pa. He loves doing things like that.”

“How did Miles like your pie?’ Dawn’s mother asked as she sat on the bed later that night.
“He kissed my cheek. I hope that wasn’t improper.”
“Looks like you’re on your way.”
“For marriage, you mean? I’m still young yet.”
“Miles does like your cooking, though.”
“He sure does,” Dawn smiled, yawning.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summertime Short

Visiting theme parks.
Diving in the backyard pool.
Campsite ghost stories.

Followers