Friday, January 15, 2010

Appreciating the Past in the Present - MANN

As I pulled the hot bread from the oven on New Year’s morning, in preparation for the pot-luck dinner at our neighbour’s later in the day, I was reminded of past years. I thought about my Mother’s assortment of bread and dinner rolls that she’d place on the cupboard counter ready for the family feast. I looked out the kitchen window to the snow covered hay field and in my mind’s eye could see the red cutter and black horse that brought my grandparents across the field for the goose dinner. Funny, how memory gives one the gift of love and comfort at a time when we are far removed from the generation and century.

This feeling stayed with me during the day as each step I took placed a landmark of memory in view. As I walked up the shovelled path to our neighbour’s house, he flung the door open and shared words of welcome and blessing. Immediately, I saw the large Christmas tree recently hauled from the back bush, filled with a history of Christmas ornaments to tell the old story. The Century farmhouse soon filled with friends and relatives of all ages. The children played at our feet while the men sat in one area to talk about feed prices and ways to get the Massey tractor started and the women talked about recipes, Afghans and new babies.

As I heard the words of thanksgiving for the food and people who’d gathered for the meal, I couldn’t help but reflect on my Grandfather’s few, but meaningful words of gratitude that he’d share at such times. Isn’t it nice when good experiences always connect with other fond memories of the past? It has a way of bringing what might be forgotten into the present to once more enjoy and be strengthened.

The chatter and laughter, teasing and joking filtered down the table, along with the tragedy of pig farming at this time and the corn still standing in frozen fields, having to wait until spring for harvesting. This wove in through the more serious discourse at my end of the table which had developed into theological and psychological conversation. I became aware of the wonderful diversity of people at such a gathering as this and how entering into the areas of interest of those with whom you’re seated, offers a wealth of personal appeal.

As the sun lowered in the sky and the shadowed fell across the front veranda, the children, who had dressed warmly to play outside following the dinner, began to feel cold and retreated into the warm house, covered with snow, revealing red cheeks and noses. Then as lights were slowly turned on here and there around the room, more coffee and tea poured and the hands of the clock turned yet another hour, most of the adults continued to sit at the table to talk. When we finally moved back to the couches and easy chairs, the conversation continued with the same enthusiasm, and I brought my knitting out of its bag.

It wasn’t long before we were invited back to the table with, “Come on and eat up the leftovers.” I noticed how we all went to our same chairs we’d left only the previous hour, to finish a light meal. When we finally began to say our goodbyes to the younger ones who had to take their children home, and those who had to go to milk the thirty cows waiting in the barn, someone joked, “I wonder what we’ll have for breakfast.” What a treasure to live in a farming community amongst good people. This day held a reflection of the past, reality of the present and a promise of the future.

Donna Mann
Aggie’s Storms. The Brucedale Press
WinterGrief. Essence Publishing


violet said...

This was lovely, Donna. I felt like I was right there with you in the room. Pass the bread please!

Peter Black said...

You've described a lovely idyllic setting and experience, Donna.
It seems a tragedy that in some areas of rural attrition, fewer families are around to enjoy the blessings of neighbourliness and hospitality of the kind of country life you share.
Your writings help keep the yearning for it alive.

Glynis said...

Life, love, family filled with gratitude to God. Now, there are a few comforting thoughts. Lovely, Donna. x

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