Yesterday I wrote about books that I read last week for the Meme, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? One of the parts I wrote discussed Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate Dicamillo. I listened to the audio book this time, which made my trips to and from work and appointments, etc. quite a pleasure, particularly because I connected to memories of my childhood while listening. I wrote: those of you who live now in a small town or who have lived in one at some time in your lives and who have read the book will understand the connection I made with this. I lived in a small town until I was in 7th grade, and spent time with eccentric old women (sometimes couples) just visiting, looking at their gardens, eating baked goods and drinking sweet tea on their front porches, and enjoying the visit. They had stories to tell, like in this book. I know that others might think it was a little far fetched, but it is not. There are people like that everywhere. It’s just that in small towns, we seem to be able to get to know them.
I visited many people all over town, especially in the summertime, when the living for children during that time was definitely easy. I took no lessons, but entertained myself in different ways with friends, playing various kinds of board games in the heat of the afternoon, creating clubs that met under huge shrubs that made terrific secret places, and climbing trees with limbs large enough to offer a comfortable place to read, and finally visiting. There were lots of people to visit, including family. Most of these people were older, some childless, therefore no grandchildren, and some whose spouse had died. Some had never married. They were lonely perhaps, and frequent visitors were welcome.
|Not the real house, but close, just no stone pillars. I couldn't find one with square pillars built of stone in the manner of a stone fence.|
In my little town, my parents and I lived across the street from a woman named Mrs. Miller. She was a widow and lived in a bungalow-type house--large porch on the front with those stone pillars connecting the railing. It sat on a large lot filled with both flower and vegetable gardens. I visited with her nearly every morning that I could. We walked through the gardens as she pointed out this flower and that flower, and certain vegetables. She explained what they were, how to care for them, and their provenance. Did you know that plants carry a provenance? They mostly had been taken from plants of other friends’ or family members’ gardens, and transplanted. Mrs. Miller would tell me how important it was to look carefully at the plants from other gardens, to choose the strongest ones, in color of both leaves and flowers, with just a sturdy look. In other words, certain gardens weren’t necessarily the ones to “take” from.
Later in the summer, we might choose some of the blooms, just at their peak, ready to fill the rose crystal vase that sat in Mrs. Miller’s front hall on a round table. Yes, it sat on a lacy doily. This vase, she would remind me, had belonged to her grand Aunt Gertie, who made everyone crazy in her ways of spending too much on her things when she lived only in an unremarkable and tiny house in another little town nearby. She had no need of rose crystal vases, many thought. Yet Mrs. Miller told me that she had loved her Aunt Gertie, and enjoyed visiting with her in that tiny house with the beautiful things. Her aunt, Mrs. Miller told me, considered that it was a way of living fine. If you must have only a few things, they must be the best. Hence, the strongest provenance for her plants.
I talked of other things with my neighbor, and each time I visited, after our walk through her gardens, we sat down to lemonade and coffee cake, both homemade that morning, two of Mrs. Miller’s “fine” things. We sat and chatted till the sun circled toward mid morning. Now that I remember this, I consider that it is one of the ‘fine’ things in my life. I am appreciative of Kate Dicamillo’s beautiful writing of Because of Winn Dixie because it helped me remember a happy time in my childhood.