This painting perfectly illustrates my great~grandmother’s kitchen in Cloverdale, California many years ago.
Let me tell you a story of a long~ago Thanksgiving…
As a very young child, I clearly remember her fragrant and busy kitchen on the momentous occasion.
It was a trip we made only on Thanksgiving.
Perhaps my father detested the ritual or, more likely, his uncles in attendance.
it was an exciting day for a little girl of 5 or 6 like myself.
Entering her old Victorian house on Main Street,
the wonderful smell of baking pies, a fat turkey roasting along with everything else she had been cooking for days, came steaming forth to greet me.
I ran through the creaking screen door, held open by a relative I didn’t know, straight to the back of the house.
Her kitchen was the heart of the place and where I wanted to be.
It came complete with a pie~rolling table (I have one too), the strange green wallpaper AND ceiling, the single light fixture, the checkered floor and the big black wood stove.
The large women, relatives whom I do not recall, wore full aprons in cotton calicoes trimmed in lace with straps that crossed in back.
There were never women who were thin!
My brothers and myself were the only children in attendance and often embraced into ample bosoms that bordered on suffocation!
The pie dough never went to the cat as in the painting (horrors!) but was rolled out and baked with a goodly portion of cinnamon and sugar on top.
Much better than deviled eggs or olives!
To this day, if I make pies, the “doughies” must also be made!
One year and perhaps the last meal I enjoyed there, we arrived a day early, staying with my grandmother who lived down the road and around the corner. My entire family lived either in this small town or one nearby. I had walked over to my great~grandmother’s house for a surprise visit,
“in the act”.
Can you guess what she was doing?
As she inexplicably chased her turkeys and chickens
in the yard, I noticed her sharpened axe laid next to the chopping block, a large old stump of a tree.
She lived happily alone.
Her drunken husband wandered off years before.
They had lived in a small logging village high above the sea and it was rumored
“he fell off a cliff thus never knew what hit him…”
She was an independent woman.
She enjoyed her mother’s small pipe laced with cherry tobacco, rocking in her chair on the front porch. She often muttered about “Damned Yankees…”
And seemingly she liked committing this sinister deed.
She turned to me, her face red and sweating. I can still hear her panting. She simply announced this was to be our dinner tomorrow and asked me to
“Stand over there so he won’t get away this time.”
She may have had a flair for the dramatic.
I remember how skilled she was with that axe and more blood than I’d ever seen. Her many cats came from nowhere as the once proud turkey now headless, stumbled in circles for what seemed like hours.
Afterward he was set to steam in a huge pot on the canning stove she kept on her back porch, making it easier to pluck the feathers clean.
I felt no emotion for the headless fowl in the pot and had moved onto more tasty delights.
We washed up at the big old sink and headed to her berry patch, picking bowls of sweet berries for Thanksgiving pies.
Simple as that.
Shall I tell you about her mincemeat?
To you, kind and faithful readers…
I am grateful for the day I began this blog
because it led me to
As we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US, may your day be filled with gratitude, love and pie!
Originally penned many years ago…