When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, we were given a writing assignment. We had to choose one from a few pictures and write a story around it. A few kids were asked to read theirs aloud to the class. They were really good, showed great imagination, and took the story down paths I never would have thought of. That said, I’ve chosen a picture and I’m going to attempt this assignment once more.
Way Out in the Country
When I was a young girl, I remember visiting my Aunt Sadie and Uncle Silas who lived way out in the country. There lived four of my cousins. The oldest was Henry, then Mattie, then George, and Sarah was the youngest. Mattie was one year younger than me. Like I said, they lived way out in the country. Way out. The drive took almost an hour, but we made the trip about once a month in nice weather.
They lived in a two story farm house that had the best porch ever. And that porch had a creaky old swing. Its rhythmic sound was peaceful. Us girls would swing and tell stories and laugh and giggle. I loved that old swing. The kids' bedrooms were upstairs. From Mattie and Sarah’s bedroom, you could see for miles around. The windows were wide open, and the cool breeze felt like heaven. We played with dolls, colored pictures, played house, and pretended we were princesses. I loved that old house.
Uncle Silas was a farmer. He had cows and chickens and grew corn, beans, peas, peanuts, tomatoes, squash, and lots of other stuff I don’t remember. He stayed busy, but always took time to sit for a spell and visit with us kids. He grew up in that house and told us tales of his life as a boy, how he swam in the pond, stumbled upon deer, played with frogs in the creek, picked apples from a tree, drank from a spring, hiked up to a hill above the meadow, stretched out on his back and watched the clouds. I could close my eyes and imagine I had the same adventures.
When we went outside for our own adventures, Henry always looked after us younger ones. He made sure we didn’t get into any trouble. He was a good kid. I looked up to him. Mattie and I played with Sarah since she was the youngest. She was the cutest little girl with curly hair and an adorable laugh. Mattie took good care for her little sister. Henry and George were brothers and best friends. I guess that’s because they lived way out in the country.
Outside, we played kick ball underneath the tall, shady trees. Hide and seek and tag were other favorite games. We skipped rocks across the pond, chased each other around the trees, played tic tac toe in the sand, and all kinds of things that kids did in the country. The girls and I would pick wild flowers for Aunt Sadie to put on the kitchen table. We always had fun. Lots of fun. I loved being way out in the country.
As we rested on the porch, smells from the kitchen wafted out the windows calling us in for a wonderful meal Aunt Sadie had cooked. Fried chicken or roast beef, mashed potatoes or yams, green beans or peas, carrots or tomatoes, fried cornbread or biscuits, and sweet tea. And always a luscious dessert. Apple pie or peach cobbler or strawberries and cream or banana pudding. Aunt Sadie was a chubby lady who always had an apron on. Always. Her cookie jar had an unending supply of sweet cookies. If she wasn’t cooking delicious meals, she was canning vegetables, or snapping beans, or freezing something or another. She was as busy as Uncle Silas. But, she always made time for us.
As we grew older, the visits became fewer and fewer. After Uncle Silas died, George and his family moved back to the country house with Aunt Sadie to run the family farm. Henry had moved to the city and had some very important job. Mattie got married and had three children of her own, all boys. Sarah married a young man from a nearby farm way, way out in the country. And so our families drifted apart.
Recently, some thirty years later, I went for a ride, way out in the country, to look at that old house. It was weathered but still standing, overgrown with shrubs and vines, but I could hear the sound of a creaky old swing and the faint sound of giggles drifting out the upstairs windows. I loved that old house. Way, way out in the country.