You know how sometimes something triggers a memory? Or maybe a string of memories? That happened to me the other day when I was asking my facebook friends about making my own kefir. One friend mentioned something about water kefir that tastes like root beer. And that was all it took. Memories from my childhood summers came flooding back, and I wanted to record them for myself, and for my kids, before they were forgotten again.
The mention of homemade kefir that tastes like root beer transported me back to my childhood as I remembered the homemade root beer my mom and aunts made over the summer months. I remember the glass jugs lined up out in the sun for days for it to reach peak carbonation and how hard it was to wait that long to taste it. Then how good it tasted sliding down parched throats, bringing sugary refreshment on hot summer days.
photo credit and root beer recipe here: http://blog.fillmorecontainer.com/index.php/2012/08/09/homemade-root-beer/
I thought how it was just not right that my kids have never had the experience of tasting delicious homemade root beer, and how that was a special part of my childhood. What other things did I experience as a child that my kids never have, and maybe never will?
I remember spending many summer days at my uncle’s farm. He and my dad helped each other out on their farms. We spent so much time there that as I looked back i actually have more memories of summer days spent on their farm than I do our own.
My dad and his brother raised tobacco. I remember the feilds. The way the men would cut down the tall tobacco, spear it, and then load it on a wagon to bring it into the barn. it was often our job to take peppermint water out to the sweaty, hard working men.
Aaah! peppermint water! Another flavor of my childhood, long gone. Is there even a recipe for that? (I actually checked,and there is a recipe! Although we also added some sugar to ours. You can find the recipe here: peppermint water)
All i know is that there was nothing under the blazing summer sun that tasted better than a tall glass of peppermint water! I can see it now. Barfeoot girls with braids swinging, carrying the precious peppermint water jug between them down the dusty farm feild lane. It was a privilege, actually. The men always looked forward to that sweet refeshment coming. Although we loved the peppermint water so much that lots of it was consumed before it ever reached the people it was intended for. Then we’d hang out a little in the feild, hoping to be able to catch a ride on the wagon back to the house.
The women prepared the lunch meal for the men who had come to help for the day. Everyone helped each other out a lot back then. We’d set up a basin of water and a bar of soap outside on the lawn sometimes for the men to wash their hands. I remember the way the soap smelled. Some things are ingrained in your memory forever, and you think you’ve forgotten until something brings the memory back. So vividly sometimes that it takes you by surprise.
In our free time, we kids would eat the ripening concord grapes straight off the vine, swing on the huge barn swing, or build tunnels in the hay mow. Sometimes we’d be lucky enough to find a nest of kittens a mama cat had hidden in the hay.
We had no TV back then. No radio. No video games to keep us occupied over the summer months. We didn’t spend afternoons at the pool very often. But I don’t remember ever being bored. I’m sure I was sometimes, but there was usually something to do. We rode bikes. We helped work. lots. We spent time swinging aimlessly on the home made swing in the front yard. We played in the feilds and looked at the clouds. We read books.
We were sturdy, healthy, and tough. Life was hard and simple at the same time.
Though there are things I would probably change about my childhood if I could, I think I’d still choose to experience those wonderful, long summers on the farm. It’s part of what made me who i am today. I still love the country, nature, and the sunshine on my skin. I have learned the benefits of working hard and the joy of simple play. And though the pigtails are long gone, you’ll still find me almost every summer day with bare feet.