Over the Hill and Through the Woods

Dec
13

We have our own little jargon here. If we say we’re going across the river, that means we’re taking the river ford to the hard road. If we say we’re going down the hill, it means we’re going down to the meadow on our farm. If we say we’re going over the hill, it means we’re taking the couple miles of dirt-rock road through three creeks, up a hill then down a hill to the hard road where the old farmhouse sits.


Our road is literally uphill both ways because it crosses a big hill. To the despair of anyone walking it in either direction, like, say, one of my children who might be too impatient to wait for me to pick them up from the bus over at the old farmhouse.

It was snowing yesterday morning, but I’d promised Georgia I would help her with her annual fiesta of making 75 mini holiday pumpkin breads. So off I set, over the hill….

….and through the woods….

….to Georgia’s house. Where she had started without me because she’s impatient, too, and nobody thinks I’ll drive anywhere when it’s snowing so she didn’t think I was really coming.

Georgia makes these little pumpkin breads (see recipe here) every year for the little church in town. They make up big gift baskets and give them out to the elderly in the community. Georgia has a hard time handling the work of 75 mini holiday pumpkin breads because she’s one of the elderly who should be getting a basket–but she doesn’t like that idea. She wants to be one of the younguns fixing goodies for the baskets, not one of those “old people” getting one. Only she can’t quite do it cuz, well, she’s elderly. So she calls me up and tells me she’ll “help” me make those mini pumpkin breads if I’ll come over to her house. Or something like that.

She fusses around a lot while she’s “helping” me because she wants to be sure I do things right and usually I don’t. She had the recipe clipped on her fridge and the clip was right over the part where it said how much ground cloves to put in. It was supposed to be 1/2 teaspoon but I couldn’t see the first part of that and I thought it said 2 teaspoons. Georgia almost had a fainting spell when she found out I’d been putting in 2 teaspoons.

We did a taste-test and decided we liked it with 2 teaspoons so all was forgiven. Since we were experimenting, I told her we should poke holes in the breads and pour on some rum glaze or maybe just some straight rum because the “old people” would really like that and it would be their best Christmas basket ever, but sometimes she just doesn’t pay attention to me.

In between baking rounds, I wandered over to the old farmhouse. I go over the hill every day to pick up children from the bus, but I don’t usually hang out much. I’m on my way here and there and in a hurry. It’s nice whenever I’m there for a bit to hang out and feel the old house again.

Hello, old house.

Hello, old bell.

Hello, old wash house out back.

Hello, well.

Hello, Callie, mama to my Sugar and Spice.

Hello, Flash.

Hello, gas fireplace in the old farmhouse parlor. How we used to gather round your heat as we shivered through the winters here. Oh how I remember the snow days when my children fought for who got to sleep closest to you on the floor.

Hello, great-grandparents on the wall.

Hello, room with no door. (Great-Aunt Ruby didn’t like doors!) Princess Morgan’s girlie comforter set still decks the bed as she is using a twin bed at our new farmhouse.

Hello, my old bedroom with the year-round Christmas tree. This is the only month of the year that this room looks right.

Hello, old retro 60s remodel kitchen. I rediscovered my love of baking in this kitchen. I hate it and love it and miss it and sometimes I want to come over and just cook something in it for the heck of it. Sometimes I can’t find something, like my bundt pan the other day, and I realize I must have left it here so I have to come over and hunt through the cabinets. I like to poke around in here and sometimes I rearrange things. Because it’s still MY kitchen. Don’t tell Georgia.

Hello, big window over the meadow. This is a good place to watch deer graze along the creek at dusk. And children shooting arrows into hay bales. And cats jumping in the tall, tall grass in summertime.

Hello, antique telephone on the wall and all that glass I used to have to keep clean.

Hello, spinning wheel. Would you like to come home with me, spinning wheel? Suzanne! :smack: You know you can’t take anything out of the old farmhouse! PUT THE SPINNING WHEEL DOWN. This is not your house!

Hello, old cellar with every wall lined in Georgia’s canned goods. I wonder if that little jar of cherry preserves might accidentally fall into my pocket? SUZANNE!! :smack smack:

Hello, old cellar porch where I don’t have to worry about lighting the gas on the old stove to keep the pipes from freezing this winter. Georgia comes over to do that now.

Hello, old washtub. I can still see my cats, Sugar and Spice, playing in the washtub when they were little kittens.

I see Morgan, at one-and-a-half, in this washtub when I gave her a bath here on one of our visits to the old farmhouse way back when.

I see me, age five, out front riding the little red tricycle Great-Aunt Ruby used to keep around for the little kids in the family.

I can almost see my dad when he was in high school and the weather was so bad he’d have to stay the night here with his aunt because he couldn’t get home.

And my great-grandparents, when they came over the hill and through the woods, to visit their daughter Ruby. I see them in the parlor and on the porch, not just on the wall where they are framed.

I see generations in an almost elastic space and time where no matter how far the years stretch, they also pull back together–here–in this old house.

Oh yeah, this is my house. Nobody tell Georgia.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 13, 2008  

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Comments

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  1. 12-13
    1:18
    am

    I must be getting to be an old softie. You made the tears well up again. This was absolutely beautiful Suzanne. Thank you.

    -Patty

  2. 12-13
    4:39
    am

    The history you have in the old farm house is truly something to cherish. Thanks for sharing it.

    OH, and when you get your sheep, you really need to see about slipping that spinning wheel up to your place for a bit. :rotfl:

  3. 12-13
    4:50
    am

    Absolutely beautiful snow pictures! I love reading your blog. Thank you for sharing!
    PS: I am inspired to take some photos of our beautiful ice-frosted home when it gets light outside.

  4. 12-13
    5:14
    am

    Thanks so much for sharing ~ I love the tour and the touch of nostalgia brought a tear to my eye. How I long for the history you have.

  5. 12-13
    5:27
    am

    What a cool thing that ole house is. Who is going to be care taker of the house when Georgia is no longer able? I think YOU would be the best fit for keeping your heritage alive. When I go to my grannys house, this is how I feel but have never been able to put it into words. Your good like that aint ya? Oh and I am going to be trying the pumpking bread – thank Georiga for me would ya!!!

  6. 12-13
    5:39
    am

    Such wonderful memories… :catmeow:

  7. 12-13
    6:01
    am

    Always good to see sweet Georgia. I just love that lady and I don’t really even know her! So nice that she feels like a youngster. You go Georgia! Always stay young in your heart.

    Loved the historic tour of the old farmhouse and I think the portrait of your great-grandparents is excellent! xxoo

  8. 12-13
    6:16
    am

    With our disposable and instant society, it is so great to see a home that is comfortable yet unchanged for decades. I just love looking at the antiques and glassware – not in a store, but actually in use. What a heritage you have. What a blessing.
    Oh, how did the pumpkin bread turn out? How great that Georgia still carries on that tradition and what memories you are making by allowing her to “help” you.

  9. 12-13
    6:22
    am

    There’s no place like home.

  10. 12-13
    7:03
    am

    What a nice tour of the old house. It brought back memories of my grandmother’s and also my uncle’s house I visited when I was young.unfortuantely they have both passed on and noone is left with that old type of house in the family anymore.
    Had to keep refreshing the screen to try to see all the photos but still couldn’t. Suzanne what internet do you use? We are in flat central IL and got stuck with Hughes Net satelite of which satelite is all that is available here and it works great and then MANY days we can’t do much of anything on the web it is so ridiculous. I’ve heard others say Hughes is horrible too. Well, sorry for venting but December on the internet seems to be a sorry state for us here. Blessings.

  11. 12-13
    7:07
    am

    Thank you for the tour. It made me think of the farm house I grew up in. I miss having window sills to set things on and it made me remember how the old pictures would lean off the wall like the one in your old bedroom. I’d like to put that spinning wheel in my pocket and bring it home too.LOL

  12. 12-13
    7:10
    am

    Nobody knows the internet connection trouble I’ve seen…. It’s hard in the country. We can’t get DSL or cable. We have HughesNet, too. Sometimes it’s VERY slow, to the point of unusable. Other days it’s fine. I use dialup when it’s being slow because dialup is actually better than satellite some days! I upload my pics to the blog in reduced kilobyte size to do my best for those of you who are on dialup or have slow satellite because I totally feel your pain! Though I know on posts where there are a lot of photos (like this one), that may not help enough, but I do try my best. You might try like I do–on days when the satellite is running slow, dialup really IS better!

  13. 12-13
    7:16
    am

    I’ve never posted a comment before, but I wanted to say that this was a lovely entry today. It is an amazing feeling to be connected to one’s past and one’s memories- and something many people just don’t have. I am so glad for you!

  14. 12-13
    7:26
    am

    Suzanne,
    Wow! What memories! I feel a special sense of closeness to your family even though I haven’t been at the old farm house in 13 years. I used to babysit for your cousins (I love them dearly) and I have such fond memories of visiting Ruby — we called her Granny Ruby though. It’s funny, I had forgotten about the Christmas tree in her bedroom — she left it up all year even then when she was alive. The little farm house looks pretty much unchanged from what I remember. I also remember Bob riding around on his golf cart — what a great family you have! Even though I don’t know your immediate family, I feel like I do since I’ve been reading your blog for so long. I actually met 17 at McDonalds the other night — I was so excited to see him! I told him I was a big fan of yours — he wasn’t has excited as I was though. I just felt like I already knew him. You are so lucky to have your family and your heritage and your memories there on the old farm.
    Thanks for being here for us Suzanne! :heart:

  15. 12-13
    7:45
    am

    Great post, Suzanne!
    I don’t have a house to go back to and remember. Well, I do, but it’s occupied. I have more of a connection with the outside of the house than the inside, because that’s where I stayed most of the time. But I feel the connection when I hold something that belonged to them.

  16. 12-13
    7:47
    am

    Beautiful! I think Georgia is readying you to be the keeper of the flame. You have a beautiful spirit. Thank you for all the time you take to write this stuff down. (It makes me homesick, though!)

  17. 12-13
    8:34
    am

    Good post. I think I would bring the picture of your gr grandparents to your house. I wish I had a large portrait of my gr grandparents.

  18. 12-13
    8:52
    am

    That was the nicest post ever. I loved it.

    I live in a house full of memories of greats and cousins and siblings and babies and old old people too. You verbalized a lot of what it is like to live in an ancestral home or on the land your great-gramps started on.
    If this link works, you can see my house as we have re-done it: http://www.livingthecountrylife.com/country-homes/beautiful/beautiful-places-photos-v/?page=3

    Thanks again for the wonderful post!!!

    (hey and i almost got you an indexing job…it is in the future; are you up for it???) “you can work from home…”

  19. 12-13
    9:04
    am

    How wonderful that your ancestral home is still around to hold all those memories together. Our family land was sold in bits and pieces decades upon decades ago. Other families make their memories there now. All we have left are tombstones and churchyards.

  20. 12-13
    9:15
    am

    I loved this post! My grandparents lived in Elmira, NY and over the decades my sisters and I made it a habit to drive by the house whenever we were up there visiting family. I’ve talked to 2 different owners over the years. The house looks smaller every time I see it! Georgia rocks – my Mom at 101 was calling women Georgia’s age “young chicks”. :catmeow:

  21. 12-13
    9:23
    am

    I’m pretty sure that spinning wheel wants to come home with me! :mrgreen:

  22. 12-13
    9:45
    am

    I love the trip over the river and through the woods. Unfortunately civilization is breathing heavy on our necks. I’d love to be out there where you are. We used to have to ford a creek to get to Aunt Lillie’s house, unless the creek was a raging torrent.

    I love your photos and descriptions and I love the character of the old farmhouse.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  23. 12-13
    10:03
    am

    I would use the old farmhouse as a weekend retreat. I would love to have an old house especially with all the memories. :treehugger:

  24. 12-13
    10:08
    am

    :sheepjump: Thank you for the wonderful photos…makes me homesick for living in Utah…with all the old stuff.

  25. 12-13
    11:42
    am

    I liked your description of how to get around in the country. My mom lives in KY, we’re in IN but it only takes 20min to travel the distance. We take the interstate to hwy 41, cross the twin bridges and take a short cut on this wooded,long and winding rd to the street Mom lives on. When my children were sm we used to actually sing “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmas house we go….”
    I’ve seen portriats of my ancestors, and others but why is it they never smiled in them back then? Is that why they seem so scary? :clock:

  26. 12-13
    3:23
    pm

    Aw, Suzanne. Thank you. I don’t have a sense of history with my own family, so it’s nice to “Visit” those who do. What beautiful and loving memories and pictures these are!

  27. 12-13
    4:02
    pm

    The tour was great! Thanks for sharing.

  28. 12-13
    4:19
    pm

    Memories….remember the Barbara Streisand song?? LOL My mother used to always say “ohh, if I could just go back, knowing what I know NOW”…isn’t that the truth!!!!!

  29. 12-13
    4:30
    pm

    Suzanne, I loved the photos of the wooded country roads, the tour of your “slanted little house,” and for getting to hear a bit more about, Georgia, and your ancestors. Thank you for sharing your treasures!

  30. 12-13
    5:22
    pm

    This is an absolutely beautiful beautiful post! :heart:

  31. 12-13
    7:45
    pm

    It’s all been said – I agree!

  32. 12-13
    8:32
    pm

    New reader here to say how much I enjoy your blog. The photos are wonderful.
    June

  33. 12-13
    10:57
    pm

    This is a great post, I enjoyed it very much.

  34. 12-13
    11:25
    pm

    Your relationship with Georgia and that old house reminds me so much of my Aunt Martha and her old farmhouse. Only Aunt Martha would have liked the rum idea. ;-)

  35. 12-14
    8:31
    am

    This is probally my favorite post, I don’t have an old farmhouse to visit, but I do have an Auntie that reminds me of Georgia. No matter how old you get, it makes you feel like a kid again when you can “go back home”. Thanks for sharing your life with us. If you have another get together this summer, let us know in advance, some of us would love to spend a few days in West Virginia.

  36. 12-14
    11:55
    am

    Love this post, Suzanne! It’s so cool that you live near a place that is so soaked in history and memories…even better that you appreciate what you have there!

  37. 12-14
    1:20
    pm

    Isn’t going ‘home’ great. And fuddy-duddy aunts,uncles, grandparents, ect that make you want to smack them, but in reality they are the best things in our lives! And just think what people would think if you turned on a stove to keep warm, these days. Like you, I’m glad I have memories of all the ‘old ways’ in my hip pocket to refect on when the city folk around me has no clue! Great Post, Great Blog!!

  38. 12-14
    8:13
    pm

    Bravo! I wish I had a place to go with so much history as that old house and someone to visit like Georgia! You are SO lucky!!!

  39. 12-15
    3:48
    pm

    Lovely entry. Makes me homesick for my grandparents’ farm. Yep…I would hear that spinning wheel calling my name, too!

    Blessings from Ohio…

  40. 9-4
    8:31
    am

    Memories that take us back, fill our heart to overflowing and stay with us forever. Wonderful post!

  41. 12-31
    4:26
    pm

    I love to see old memories like this, its nice you still have it around. Wonderful.

  42. 12-31
    5:24
    pm

    Most people do not have those connections with the past and memories. Thank you for sharing yours with us. Beautiful post! I could still smell the biscuits when I was in the kitchen. Smelled just like my Great Aunt Lois’ house.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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