“Grab that bowl over yonder and take it out to the porch. We need to get these beans snapped before lunch.”
I can still hear my Grannie’s words – maybe because this was my very favorite thing to do at her house.
We’d sit on the porch for hours and snap beans, shell peas, pit cherries – all summer long it seemed like there was some sort of food preservation going on. And it usually involves some time on her honeysuckle wrapped porch.
But it wasn’t the action that our hands were doing that made my heart so very happy. It was the stories my Grannie would tell while we worked.
I learned all about how, when she was growing up in the Bella Coola Valley in British Columbia, they were one of the only white families that lived in the area. She told stories of how the natives would bring them fish and how they were mostly kind and good neighbors – albeit very curious.
She also loved to tell stories about how her brother Earl would play his fiddle and she’d dance and dance until she thought she’d collapse.
The hours passed like minutes as my Grannie poured these stories of my heritage into my heart and mind.
After a bit, Gramps would often join us for a quick smoke of his pipe. He didn’t share much but he did sometimes chuckle at one of Grannie’s stories.
Not only did I learn how to peel an apple “quicker than scat”, I also learned what songs each bird sang as they ate the food she tossed them daily. I got to know family members, long gone, who had done incredible things, while also peeling potatoes for supper.
You see, my Grannie didn’t just ask me to help her. She lovingly made me part of everything she was working on – she made it seem as though she couldn’t have done it without me. And she always thanked me for listening to the stories of a “foolish old woman”.
Little did she know, her wisdom is still being passed down as I share stories with my kids and grandkids.
Stories of who they are and where they come from.
Yes, I helped my grannie put food by, but she gave me wisdom that is continuing for generations!.