Author Topic: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past  (Read 3502 times)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« on: December 23, 2012, 12:57:44 PM »
This is something that invaded my mind this morning and wished to share. If you spot a misstep or wish to offer a critique or comment, feel free.



A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past

Early one winter morning I entered our farmhouse kitchen and found Grandma busy cooking breakfast as usual. There was the smell of biscuits baking, the sound of ham sizzling in the skillet atop the stove and a tang in the air telling me someone had placed orange peels on the heater in the front room to fill our home with a pleasant smell.

I loved the aromas from our kitchen, there was a feeling of comfort about the smells, assuring me my world was as it should be. Something was almost always cooking or being prepared to cook to feed our large household of three adults and six children.  But that particular morning it was the kitchen window that captured and held my attention.

“What is that, Grandma,” I asked as I pointed at the window above the sink.

She looked at me then turned to see what I was asking about. “Oh, that’s a picture Jack Frost left for us when he came to visit during the night.”

She spoke in such a mater-of-fact tone of voice, I had no doubt Jack was a real person, one I wanted to know more about. So, like most young children, I asked questions about this unknown person she seemed to know but I didn’t.

Grandma was great at spinning wonderful stories that filled my head with dreams of places and people I had never seen or met. So as she cooked, she told me how Jack Frost so loved the cold weather, he traveled from place to place when the weather was just right, decorating the windows of homes so others would see the beauty he saw when the land was frozen and people tending to stay indoors as much as possible.

"Doesn't he get cold," I asked.

"Not like we do. You see, his home is in a frozen land far from here, so he is used to living in a winter wonderland all year long."


For a long time after that morning, the kitchen window was often the first thing I checked to see if the mysterious Jack Frost had visited while I slept. Some mornings I was rewarded with a fantastical picture sketched on the glass. Other times it was clear to me he had passed us by, moving on to someone else.


As the years passed and I grew physically as well in understanding, I came to know many things about the world I lived in, including the fact that Jack Frost wasn’t a flesh and blood person. Rather he was the creation of someone’s flight of fancy to explain a thing of beauty gifted to us when the weather conditions are just right.

But I still prefer Grandma’s explanation. 
 

MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2012, 02:59:58 PM »
Lovely story Alice, very evocative. One thing thoIMO, the "someone" who put the peel on the radiator, as there's only you and your granny in the piece, then I'd change it to, "I could smell the peel that she always put on the radiator". Again, only in my opinion. Thanks, bri x
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2012, 04:54:55 PM »
Lovely story Alice, very evocative. One thing thoIMO, the "someone" who put the peel on the radiator, as there's only you and your granny in the piece, then I'd change it to, "I could smell the peel that she always put on the radiator". Again, only in my opinion. Thanks, bri x

Thanks for the tip Brian . . . Grandma and I were the only ones in the kitchen, did you miss where I say it was a household of seven though?

I didn't show others up and about though. I'll take another look at that.
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2012, 06:03:00 PM »
I have many happy memories of Jack Frost drawing patterns on our caravan windows.  Between him and the Fire Sprites we could see dancing on the coal when we peeped through the little window of the pot bellied stove we were well equipped with semi-mythical creatures ;-)

As for the kitchen smells I find a lot of childhood memories revolve around smells.  Lavender scented wax polish, the sinus grabbing bite of ammonias based cleaners, the difference between burning coke and coal.  The smell of wet coal drying out in the scuttle by the stove, sometimes giving off a chill if Dad had to dig through snow on top of the coal pile.  We never had a proper bunker until we moved into the house.  Dad just threw a sack on top of the pile.   I remember him needing his pickaxe one year when the damp coal had frozen together.  (That was a hard winter all round, with no civil engineering work for six weeks on the trot.

Different woods added a range of smells when burning.   Ash and hazel were two of my favourites, still readily recognised by the small alone.  I was never that keen on the sharp resin smell of burning pine.  It's okay outdoors but in the confines of a van it's a bit overpowering.  We burned apple wood sometimes and that was sweet(ish).  I can see why it's sometimes used when people are 'smoking' wood or cheese.

Mum baked cakes and biscuits.  She often made something called Irish Treacle Bread, which was more of a cake than a bread.  (The recipe has long been lost  If the wind was in the right direction I could smell that from a hundred yards away when I came home from school.  A rich dark molasses smell.  With a couple of hours to go until meal time Mum would cut a thin 'secret slice' off one end to share.  It was usually still warm.  Magic moments ;-)

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2012, 01:07:42 PM »
I wish we had been where different kinds of wood, or any wood had been available for burning in our kitchen stove and the heater in the living room. But alas and alack, our home was on the Cap-rock, a land of sand, tumbleweeds, cotton, wheat and a few other crops. But very few trees and no one would have cut them down for heating short of freezing to death. Even then it would have been useless since green wood is not know for burning well.

Our fuel for such was kerosene, not a bad smell when you are use to it, but not noted for its fragrance either.  ;)
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2012, 01:12:53 PM »
Isn't kerosene a bit like paraffin, if it is it has a very heady fume that used to roll along the ground till it escaped thru the cracks in the floor or out a window!(at least it seemed like that when I was little!)  During the Miners Strike in 84, we found that you could get a telegraph pole(dis-used) down in 3 minutes! You had to be sly though cos some of them have a thin metal shaft running down the middle, so you have to take a hack-saw with you! ha ha. bri.
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2012, 03:26:28 PM »
Alice:  Ask and hazel burn quite well even when green

Brian.  We used paraffin heaters as well.  (In fact we still have tje one we used in the van.)  The fumes aren't good for Asthmatics, but that only became a problem later in life.

At one time we nearly bought a French stove.  This burned the paraffin once on a lower burner, and then captured the fumes and burned them as well.  We saw it demonstrated and it was a) very hot, and b) almost odour free.  What turned us against it was the bulk, comkpared to the flatter and neater English oil stoves

Kerosene and paraffin are effectively the same thing.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline DC

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3469
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2012, 03:28:43 PM »
Hi Alice. Lovely story/memory.
 
When I was at Uni, I was talking to a girl one morning about the 'Frost Forests' I used to see on my bedroom window of a morning when I was a kid. She couldn't understand what I was talking about. She was 18, I was 37. I thought it very sad that she'd never experienced these wonderful pictures.

One of the 'curses'' of central heating...
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to
skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - open throttle in the other -
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming : "Woo Hoo, what
a ride!"

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2012, 03:33:42 PM »
Another world, Dave.  Another world.

Yo, Dude, listen to the beard talking ;-)
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline DC

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3469
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2012, 03:40:02 PM »
Yep, Gyppo. We're becoming the 'Old Folks' who used to tell us such stories when we were kids... :o
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to
skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - open throttle in the other -
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming : "Woo Hoo, what
a ride!"

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2012, 03:52:55 PM »
Scary thing is, I don't feel old.  Except on the odd days when everything hurts.
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2012, 03:59:55 PM »
You know somethin else that sets us apart gyp? We thrive on useless facts just for the sake of knowin em, the young uns of today, don't bother cos they can get anythin they want off the net!(actually I jus realised the thing that sets us apart is when we use the words, "Those young-uns!" ha ha) I'm like you bearded and wise(er) but feel 30. ha.
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2012, 04:57:08 PM »
A few years back I compiled pictures and information for all four of my son's. Some of it covered my grandparents, both my father and mother's families, making sure I listed the names of each relative shown. I also included some pictures and info. about my younger years.

So a copy of my Jack Frost will be included in their gifts this year . . . just because I doubt they've ever seen his handy work.  ;)
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2012, 05:25:48 PM »
When it snows, Ali, line your boys up and lob a snowball at em, when they ask why? Jus tell em youre introducing Jack Frosts older brothers to em!  ;D
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: A Memory Frozen In The Distant Past
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2012, 05:30:40 PM »
Brother?  More likely their 'Well Ard' Cousin.
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1