“Remember to wipe your feet, Beth.” Auntie said, giving her usual reminder to preserve her immaculate home, given the extra polish the day before her guests were to arrive. Beth stepped gingerly on the rug and over the waxed oak floor onto the home made rag rug, so as not to put even on scuff mark on said sacred space. Beth and her family were visiting the grandparents, aunts and uncles after a three hour drive. Beth felt happy. She loved her family. No one sat down, having been riding in the car for three hours, but conversed congenially, and then set out for Waterfalls Park.
Mercifully, the oak lined winding road was only twenty minutes to the park with its freedom to run and chatter with the chipmunks and breathe! Soon all were off, all three generations, at various paces, confident to all meet at the falls. It was an idyllic time. The scent of Bay and cool water along the stream enhanced the experience. Her brother Richard ran ahead, trail blazing. Randy, the oldest, dreamily gazed at all the detail of cliff and bush, undoubtedly recording in his mind yet another scene to recreate for his model railroad. Beth just skipped, ran and walked, sometimes going down in the stream to hop from rock to rock, just happy to be moving!
The falls were a special place. One could even wade into the pool below and hide behind the falls in a one person sized cavern and surprise abashed tourists with sudden appearance! Great fun!
After a time, when all had gathered, it was time to go back, as hunger called! The quick paced walk back ended at cloth covered picnic tables, under moss draped, spreading oak trees, where everyone enjoyed the repast of red cabbage and fruit salads, sandwiches, cool drinks and a fudge dessert. As the warm sun began its golden glow descent and full tummies relaxed all into the dreamtime, Grandfather began with stories of the far away homeland, and of the long voyage of The Crossing to a new land. Then it was time to go.
At Aunties, Beth and Mother helped Aunt Elizabeth open the couch, which Uncle Pete had made from red maple, organizing bedding and pillows, and all settled in for the night. Beth dozed to the lull of crickets and starlight softly silvering the thin white curtain covering the picture window.
In the morning, Aunt Elizabeth prepared the distinctive round pancakes of her homeland, left so long ago, when she was Beth’s age. Then these three “girls”, more like sisters to Beth (her parents were older when they married, so they only had three children) hiked off to the town graveyard, picturesque on a bluff overlooking another little stream and canyon, just before Auntie’s home. Auntie straightened the vases and added a few fresh picked wildflowers before granite markers, engraved in old lettering, of friends of the grandparents who had passed on.
All of a sudden Aunt Eva exclaimed, “Hush! They’re here!” Grandmother arrived in her hand made, lace trimmed black and white cape, with a smile and greeting in the most gracious, warm voice one had ever heard, lighting up the entire room. Grandfather smiled and shook hands with the men and gave a little bow, hat in hand, to the ladies. All were seated for about five minutes, and then all invited to sit at table. Uncle Pete sang the blessing, praising God, to the families’ bowed heads.
After the meal, the ladies retired to the kitchen to hand wash a huge amount of dishes. Beth’s brothers went down to the river to pick cattails and pussy willows for Grandmother. Dishes were washed quite quickly, with so many hands to help, one to scrape, one to wash, one to dry and one to put away. Then all retired to the living room to sip coffee with cookies. Beth enjoyed listening to the good natured conversation during “coffee” after the luncheon chores were done, about the little foibles of neighbors, for which they had affection. Aunt Elena smiled and talked about the time everyone met at the local beach when Great Aunt Anna visited from The Homeland.
Afterwards, Beth and her mother walked to the Grandparents home. They passed a large, grassy yard with a sorrel horse grazing in it. It raised its head as they passed in curiosity. Beth wished it were hers! They entered Grandfather’s garden with the little rock lined well, on narrow pathways between all the flowers and fruit bushes, to the garage where Grandfather was working in his woodshop. Beth loved the smell of the fresh walnut, cherry and oak wood shavings fallen on the floor. She enjoyed looking at the signs. “How did you make this nubby background between the letters?” Beth asked. Grandfather showed her a couple of tools, when she asked how it was carved. There were rounded tools and squared off ones, with wooden handles. There was a hammer and a metal tool where a background design could be pounded into the wood for the nubby effect. He also made fine furniture, though not so many pieces as when he was young. Then they said good bye, not staying long, for older people tire more easily.
Walking back in the warm sunshine, Beth dreamed happily of growing up and joining the church where she saw the wonderful vision of Jesus and Mary, when she grew up. In the meantime, she had her best friend in Isabella, her family and her comforting vision. The End.
#1 Pencil sketch of waterfall #2 Watercolor of sorrel horse.