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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: Be Young with Me
By Verna Cole Mitchell


Be young with me in my memory as I vist my dear grandparents in their house at the top of a little village in the tall Kentucky hills.

Step up on the wraparound porch and run around to the side. Look for the well, and with the chain that hangs from the ceiling, let the bucket way down. After you pull it up again with the ice-cold water inside, grab the dipper close at hand, fill it up, and allow those crystal droplets to linger on your tongue.

Against the porch wall, you can see the leather strop where Pa flicks his razor back and forth to sharpen it with a lightning twist of his wrist. With his suspenders dropped off his shoulders on either side, he’ll wash his face in the basin and take a soft brush to lather up, then scrape the suds, along with his whiskers, from his face.

Climb down the steep steps from the porch and discover the secrets hidden in the old wash house a dozen or so steps away. Open the dusty boxes of Zane Grey novels for hours of happy reading. Examine the big galvanized tub that, when it’s filled with water, you can sit inside with your knees scrunched up to soak in the afternoon sun.

Follow the path down the hill past Ma’s gigantic garden, where she is busy gathering red plump tomatoes and peppers greener than the grasshoppers hiding under them. She’s putting them in the pulled-up skirt of her blue flowered apron. If you go back up the hill with her, she’ll let you help, if you want to, pluck the feathers off a chicken and cut it into pieces for tonight’s dinner. You can help flour it and fry it in a huge iron skillet until it’s golden brown. You’ll have to be careful, though, not to let the hot grease spatter on your arms.

Swing on the squeaky front gate till Pa hollers out, “Get off there! Haven’t I told you children a thousand times not to swing on that gate?” Creep across the dusty road to the old cemetery and tiptoe among the tombstones to listen for lonely ghosts.

Open the front door and go in the house, where you can hear clattering of china and be led by amazing aromas into the dining room. Gather with all the relatives around the large table, burdened with heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, steaming fresh corn and beans, and a big lettuce salad—all circling a platter of crispy fried chicken. Take the hand of a person on either side to hold while Pa says grace. When the food is passed around, be sure to snatch a couple of biscuits. They’ll be so light, you’ll think they’re made of air. Lather them with fresh churned butter and Ma’s homemade strawberry jam. Eat till you think you’ll pop. Then have a piece of creamy coconut cake or blueberry pie in a crumbly crust.

Sit in the evening with the grown-ups out on the front porch rockers, while the sounds of their soft conversation and laughter mingle with the music of the crickets and tree frogs.
Before bedtime, you can listen to the staticky music on the upright radio. Go pilfer through Ma’s dresser for her scattered hairpins and fancy dress pins. You can take the shine off your nose with her powder puff that raises a cloud in the lamp-lit room, and try out her Avon sample lipsticks.

Finally, you can climb into the soft featherbed on sheets that smell of sunshine and summer breezes and put your head on a downy pillow to dream sweet dreams of another tomorrow in a visit to my dear grandparents' home.

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This article has been read 1022 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/10/08
Boy, does this delight the soul and bring back delicious memories. Great work.
Joanne Sher 04/11/08
Masterfully done - a painting in words. So visual. I don't think I've seen atmosphere done better here.
Peter Stone04/12/08
You described your grandparents' place so vividly that I really felt like I was there. Great job.
Dee Yoder 04/12/08
Mmm...coconut cake and blueberry pie...fried chicken and mashed potatoes...oh what yummy memories! Beautiful story and chock full of wonderful memories.
Laury Hubrich 04/12/08
Wow! I feel like I did go to your grandparent's house with you. Thank you for the sweet visit. What beautiful memories you have. Awesome. Thank you, thank you!
Lyn Churchyard04/13/08
I was there every step of the way. This was just plain wonderful Verma. Thank you so much.
LauraLee Shaw04/13/08
Wow, I felt like you packed me in your suitcase and let me out at your grandparent's house. This was brilliant. Well done.
Emily Gibson04/14/08
Simply lovely from the words, to the descriptions, to the memories you share.
Sara Harricharan 04/14/08
This could be a most lovely, enjoyable dream! Everything was so real, I felt as if I were right there. It was that summery, afternoon in August sort of feeling. I loved the touches with the crystal droplets lingering on your tongue, the creaking gate and the blueberry pie! Yum! Your title was perfect for this. Really lovely writing! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 04/14/08
I loved being young with you. This was a wonderful trip down memory lane...I could see, smell, hear, and feel everything!
Jan Ackerson 04/14/08
Verna, this is astoundingly masterful, and a superb example of how to write in 2nd person. I never would have thought of it. Beautiful atmosphere...you took me on the journey, just as you intended to.
Debbie Wistrom04/16/08
I will. Oh if we could trade a day of today for one of the past. Your details made this setting come alive to me. What a life!
Mariane Holbrook 04/17/08
This is so beautiful I wish I'd written it. I felt as if I'd been going there all my life, you fleshed it out with such skill. Many, many congratulations!!