Safe, warm, comfortable, and happy. Those are all words that come to mind when I think back to when I was little and would lay down on a handmade quilt near the front of my grandparent’s wood burning stove. I wouldn’t sleep, I would just lay there taking everything in and trying to memorize everything I could about being there. I would even trace the quilt stitching, that I knew took my grandmother many hours, with my finger.
I would listen to my grandmother bustle around the kitchen getting mass amounts of food ready for dinner while she hummed to herself, which more times than not ended up being one of her favorite hymns.
I would lay there and close my eyes and just breathe…breathe in deep all of the smells around me, smells of home.
I could smell the wood burning in the stove.
The earthy smell to the old hardwood floor and the smell of the cold weather that came up through the boards.
The smell of roasting meat and fresh biscuits being baked.
The smell of pinto beans, because she knew they were my favorite and she always made them when I would visit.
The smell that was uniquely my grandmother that clung to her quilt. One of the very quilts that now lay at the foot of my bed.
I can still hear her humming as she would move from one pot to another stirring, tasting, and making sure everything was just as it should be.
The sound of her dropping utensils or dirty bowls into her pan of dishwater and the slight ‘kerplunk” that would follow.
The sound of the drop drawer of the stove being opened was always easy to identify because of the squeaky parts that needed to be oiled.
The popping of the wood in the stove and that crackle that, no matter what I try, just can’t be replicated in my fireplace at home.
Even the sound of her sigh. Now I know that everyone sighs, especially when they are deep in thought, but hers was different. This sigh meant that my grandfather was home…that she could see him walking towards the house, coming in from working hard in the fields. Along with her sigh, you could hear her smile when she would tell me that he was “almost home”. My goodness, did she love him…and he her. I always knew that I wanted to greet my husband with the same type of smile whenever I saw him.
Looking back I was probably, at least a little bit, in her way while she was trying to prepare dinner for the family, but she never complained. She never told me to get out of her kitchen, she never shooed me away. She just let me be.
That is a memory that no matter how many times I think about it or how many times I tell it, that it always brings a smile to my face, a tear to my eye, and a lift to my heart.