I have been asked over the years why I do the things I do. Things that I can simply go to the store and buy. Why I do things the “hard way”… Why I don’t just throw things away.
I have been thinking about that lately.
There are a lot of answers.
First I am not about doing things exactly the same way that people before me did… I use modern stuff.
The big answer is that the way I do things connects me to my granny and my mamaw. I also think that the new ways are not always the best way.
I have a perfectly good dryer and I use it for the under things… I have no desire for my neighbors to see my undies! I use it all winter when it is too cold… but I hang out my clothes when I can. In this case it is because it is just better. I love the way they feel but also it is 100 degrees and my poor ac is working over time… I don’t want the heat of the dryer to make it worse. The other thing is the electricity…. I don’t know how much it saves but it does some. But on the emotional level it is attached to sweet childhood memories and I want to keep those memories and make new ones as Wyatt runs through them and laughs.
I try to preserve foods that come my way. I have done tomatoes like crazy in every form except canning. I DO know how to can, but this year I wanted to try new things and so I froze things and I am now dehydrating things. This is a practical thing and an emotional thing. You do not get vine ripe, tasty tomatoes in the winter. Oh you can buy tomatoes at the store but they really have no taste and they are not the same. I take what I get in the summer and use it in the winter. I do buy jelly and jams simply because I do not have access to a lot of fruit. It is not a good thing to go to the store to buy fruit to can it as jelly. The emotional thing is watching my mamaw slicing up apples and drying them on a board in the back yard then later on making fried pies! On another note, it allows you to eat in a more healthy way. There are not as many chemicals and preservatives in the stuff that you put up.
I make quilts…. right now it is kinda of the “in” thing to do and people make cute table runners or wall hangings but most don’t make big heavy full size quilts that are made for warmth. I also sew clothes or whatever. I enjoy it and so I do it. I also crochet and make scarfs and throws. Even full size blankets. Obviously I do this for a good reason but when I was a little girl my mamaw had a quilt rack that she kept a work in progress going all the time. It was so awesome because it had ropes and she could lower it to work on it and pull it back up to the ceiling to get it out-of-the-way. My granny also was someone who sewed and also an aunt that I loved. I wore handmade clothes when I was a kid. My granny sewed without a pattern… could just see it and make it. I wish I had that talent.
I cook … I mean from scratch. I don’t mean buying a tub of pulled pork BBQ and heating it up and sticking frozen tator tots in the oven. I don’t have to tell you that it is more natural, healthier, less fat and salt usually. I am not saying we never eat out of course we do! I am just saying that for us it is just better. I have had people come over and share a meal and act like they have never had one… and I guess it is possible that is true. I don’t cook fancy stuff usually… just good home cooking. I come from a long line of great cooks… I do have to modify some because of the amount of oil, and Crisco and lard in stuff. I am a southern woman… we love butter! I don’t use recipes unless I am baking or I am making a fancy meal. The smell of black-eyed peas and cornbread brings me memories of mamaw… and the smell of corn tortilla enchiladas brings me memories of granny.
I LOVE to make bread. Yes, it takes time, but oh it just tastes so much better! There again no chemicals! It is cheaper than bread in the store. An off brand of bread is a couple of bucks now. I don’t have any emotional attachment to making bread. My mamaw made biscuits and cornbread but I don’t recall anyone before me making bread. For me, the kneading is just wonderful, the feel of the dough, the way it rises with that tiny bit of yeast. The smell! I can barely wait til it is cool enough to cut! Slather on some real butter or jam… Heaven! I know that Sam doesn’t like homemade bread and that is ok, but I still hope that one day she will associate the smell of bread with me. I hope that soon I can make little Wyatt pbj sandwiches on it or french toast or cinnamon toast.
I have things that belonged to the women and men before me. I hope that someday when I am gone that I will have left memories of the way I do things. I hope that smells remind wyatt of his mati. I hope that he and Sam as well, find ways that connect them to others. I hope that I have lived a life that someone would want to find a way to keep a part of me alive through the holding on to the things I have taught them….
This isn’t even the whole of it, just a little explanation of why I do things “the hard way”
PS please insert your own commas as needed… my thought process this morning is not great… sorry