Saturday afternoon and I am sitting in the rocking chair on Gram’s porch looking out over Twitchell Pond. The sun has warmed the porch nicely; some might say it is a bit too warm. Gram Martin sits at her Singer treadle machine, the cloth hanging down in her lap and bunched up on the other side almost to the wall. She is working on a quilt top for another one of her grandchildren. The whirring stops long enough for her to adjust the quilt for another patch and it begins again. She doesn’t talk much when sewing and neither do I. We just kind of sit and breathe in the nice warm air and let the summer settle in on us.
I can’t sew. Ma has a sewing machine and can sew anything. She once made us winter coats from some old coats her friends gave her. They were nice and warm and looked like they came from a store. But I can’t do it. I am just not the sewing type I guess. Ma has tried and tried but I can’t even thread the needle decently. She doesn’t really want me to learn how to cook as she says she can’t afford to waste ingredients if something doesn’t turn out right. And…in the end, she always says she knows I would rather play baseball anyway.
Ma knows me well. Rex and I have played ball in the front yard for as long as I can remember. We listen to the Red Sox on Dad’s Philco radio and make sure we don’t run the battery down because if he could not hear his boxing matches, there would be a sure fire tantrum and we’d have to stay out of his way til he calmed down!
I am so glad there is a baseball team in Lockes Mills. We go up every Sunday afternoon when there’s a game. I don’t know everyone on the team. I know Chuck Melville is the umpire . Herb Dunham is usually the pitcher and his brother, Leland (Squeek) Dunham is the catcher. Well, let me tell you. One Sunday, Squeek got very angry at some runner on base and he actually got up behind the plate and chased the guy around the field. He ran pretty fast for having all that catcher’s equipment on, too. I just stared because I could not believe it!! The umpire and the pitcher grabbed him and got him under control and the game continued!!
We always wonder if a foul ball will go through the windshield of a parked car, so we try to get there early and choose a safe place. There is no such thing as a safe place, but we try to get behind trees. The wooden benches get a little hard, so we take lawn chairs sometimes. Diddy Seames Johnson yells at every play and makes sure they are playing the game right. She lives right next door to the ball field there on Howe Hill, so is all rested up and ready to go every time the umpire yells “Play Ball!!”
Dad prefers to go fishing over the weekend as he does not seem to be into the baseball scene. Ma takes me and she gets a kick out of some of the shenanigans going on. It is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
But today is Saturday and Grampa is sitting on a little ledge next to the steps that lead into the house. His canes, covered with Black Jack Gum, rest next to him and he gazes off down the road toward his potato field.
“Nellie, Nellie” he yells and Gram sighs and gets up from her sewing. “Do you think the potato plants are free of bugs or should the kids be down there picking them off?” he asks, fiddling with the scarf he always wears around his neck.
“Ross, I am thinking the plants will be fine. They were down there in the middle of the week and filled two jars full for you.” Gram rolls her eyes when she passes me back to her sewing. That is about as expressive as Gram gets when she runs out of patience. Her little blue sneakers hit the treadle again and the machine whirrs back to life. She reaches into the box next to her and retrieves another pretty patch to sew.
I look out of the corner of my eye and Grampa has headed for the barn, using two canes to walk. It must be very hard for him to move around as he has to balance between the two thick canes. He is going to check on his pig in the pen at the side of the barn. I imagine it is hard for him to keep busy, because he cannot move around the way he’d like. That is why Dr. Boynton comes to see him on some Saturdays to check on him. I think it is arthritis, but no one ever says a word about Grampa and why he is crippled. I think maybe the pain is what makes him seem so cranky at times. I know that now that I am older, but when I was younger, he scared me to pieces when he yelled.
Gram sighs and pushes away from the machine and I get out of the rocker . It is almost time for supper. I suspect Gram and Grampa will be eating the same as we will be. Most people will be having beans and hotdogs since it is Saturday night. Once in awhile there is brown bread cooked in a cleaned lard can in the oven and cut with a string. That is so good, even if we only have oleo to spread on. Gram makes real butter, sitting and churning away and has a pretty little mold with a leaf on it. Her brown bread must really taste good!!
Another warm July day is almost gone and soon the lightning bugs will be out looking like little flying flashlights. I say good bye to Gram and she smiles and I watch her disappear into her kitchen to check the beans in the oven.
I go home with thoughts of tomorrow’s baseball game on Howe Hill and wondering what excitement that will bring.
July in Greenwood Center with the ripples on Twitchell Pond, the screech of the hawks from Rowe’s Ledge and nothing but a quiet breeze through the trees. Life is good.