This was my first story sending to friends 3/3/3 which started a friendship of sending a story once every two weeks approximately.
It is a crisp and cold day outside, but as you walk from the barn to the house, you catch the scent of what soon will greet you with warmth and love. You enter the house and you not only feel the warmth, but your nose picks up the source of the warmth. If you ever have had the pleasure of walking into a home, or your house, and smell wood burning (and hopefully not your house the cause ), you know what I mean when I say how much pleasure it brings to the senses, the warmed air to the skin coupled with the smell only wood aflame can scent its surroundings in.
Many a romantic scene occurs in front of a fireplace. It seems the warmth of the fire lights our internal fires. The smell and glow heightens all of our senses. The crackling of the embers whispers melodies to our hearts.
So what was so special about grandma's cookstove?
Ahhh, grandma's cookstove brings back many memories to me. I probably did not enjoy it so much for the smell of its burning, but in the morning I could count on waking up to what grandma would always be cooking upon it. There would always be sunny-side up eggs with bacon or sausage that seemed so wonderfully different having been cooked on top of her cookstove. Or maybe it was the love they were prepared with?
Grandma would always have a grapefruit cut in half and the rind cut away from the juicy portions it held. For us kids it was very good ... very good if smothered with a layer of sugar first . Grandma would then be putting the eggs into her little frying pan. She knew her stove well and knew exactly where to have her frying pan on the thick, broad flat metal surface. The wood box was on the left side, being about a foot or so deep, and just under a foot wide. That served as the only source of heat needed for the large oven to its right and as it warmed the entire metal surface. But you had to know how hot your fire was at the time, and that determined how hot the surface area would be, the hottest being closest to the fire of course. And grandma knew just where to put her frying pan to make those eggs just right for us grandkids. When Otto (only name he liked from anyone, including the grandkids ) and my dad would come in from the barn, and mother had awoke and come down, breakfast began the children's day.
After breakfast was play time in the living room where the woodstove was. As we got a little older, there were chores added. Actually only one chore really. But it also meant we got to play in the large straw stack near the barn and when Otto or grandma was not looking, chase chickens . Our special job, or as referred to on the farm, our chore, was to bring in firewood. And as you may have guessed, it was the small firewood for the cookstove. When someone would say anything about "taking so and so out back of the wood shed", it was quite a while before I understood what they meant. I was just not ever there for that purpose (you think my grandma would ever allow my dad to punish us while she was around? good grief no ). My memories as a kid of the wood shed was the place my brother and I went to get the small wood piled high on one side. And when our visit was over and the family was heading back south to our home over four hours away, guess what happened then? You might have guessed. Grandma would come out with a dollar for each of us "boys" for having done a fine job keeping her wood box full in the house. Now what kind of an impression do you think work (chores ) made upon us kids? It was not a preset price or anything. We did it because we wanted to, and grandma just gave us a gift, with us not ever knowing what it might be, because she wanted to. I know for me it made a very good impression about working out of love and "wanting to", not ever knowing what the reward might be or even if there was going to be a reward.
Even as I got older, and helped with all the work a farm has to do, I would help fill the wood box after breakfast in the morning. I spent a summer there when I was between middle school grades. I got up early with grandma and Otto and we milked the cows by hand. I can remember Otto using horses for farming when I was a kid but by the summer I was there it was all tractor, no horses at all. Otto was just set in his ways and kept doing things the same way as long as they worked. I was an adult before he finally bought a milking machine. But all this is another story some day . Grandma would finish with us the milking and then while we put hay down for the cows and cattle and did some other morning chores she would be preparing breakfast. The grapefruit would be there if they were in season, but I always had two sunny-side up eggs with toast to start with, made just right and with love by my grandma.
Speaking of "modernization", someone had convinced grandma to have an electric stove before I stayed during the summer. It could be a very hot and steamy summer day, the windows would all be open, but the cookstove was always in use to cook all the meals. She had the electric stove and it was a functional stove and oven, but the only use I ever seen it get was that she would store her bread within the oven, and the cookie tin where she kept her home-made cookies was always setting on top.
The breakfast was always the same in nature, and somehow I did not ever think of it as boring. I think it might have been the atmosphere of love and the smell only wood burning can bring. It was always a relaxing time from the busy and hard work a farm like Otto had. Grandma provided good solid farm cooking on that cookstove of hers.
I also spent a lot of time during my early adult years there. Sometimes I would arrive and they were out playing cards or doing something somewhere. They seldom locked the back door of the house and grandma had taught me long ago how to "properly" start her cookstove. By the time they arrived home I had the kitchen light on and the stove all warmed up, the kitchen/dining room inviting them back home (it was one big room for the kitchen and dining area, with the kitchen cabinets on one side and the cookstove on the other with the big area between for the dining table).
Otto passed away and grandma finally moved to the city nearby a couple years later. She is alive and well and I visit there about four times a year with the "new" grandkids. My parents have moved far south but I am still in the same city as they were, and gather the kids to make the four hour plus trip. Although great-grandma is in an apartment and now using an electric stove, the meals are all cooked with love, and the grandkids get to enjoy meals as I have always enjoyed, and they all begin with breakfast :)
I have many fond memories that my kids may not all remember or be able to experience. But this is what makes life so much fun. As much as Ecclesiastes might have us think there is nothing new under the sun, being individuals we all live unique and individual lives. Things change which makes each of our lives different. Through words and love and communication, we are able to share our individual selves with others. Since we all have not experienced the same lives or settings, we all have a unique story and interesting life to share with others. We each have a set of wonders within ourselves to fascinate others with. We all add to the joy of life if we will simply love ourselves so we can share love with others.
It is my hope this day that your life be filled with love, peace and a LOT of JOY (look the word up sometime and find out what joy really means ),
yours in friendship and in life as you allow me,