Sunday, September 07, 2003

The Long Walk Home

The summers that my mother sent me "back home" to my grandparents are some of the best memories I have.
My grandparents home was always the same.

All my life.

No matter how many times my mother and I moved, whenever I went "back home", it was thankfully always the same.
That gray house, with the walls that were three feet thick, with the outdoor hallway that led to the cold storage and the kitchen, the kapija (very large gate) that squeaked when you opened it...was my touchstone.
There have been times when I've passed a farm, and I smell the familiar smell of cornhusks shoots me back to my childhood on my grandparents farm.

My grandmother was a hardworking woman.
She was never to be seen just sitting around, and she didn't like to see anyone else just sitting around either.
They used to say that she could find something to keep every member of the Yugoslavian army busy, and I believed that it was true.
She used to wake me up at the crack of dawn (she had already been up from 4:30am) by pulling the huge feather comforter off of me and slinging it over the open window ledge, to "air" it out, and then she'd say, "you didn't still want to sleep did you?".

I know that she rose at 4:30am because I once asked if I could see her hair (she always wore a kerchief).
I had to get up at that time to watch her comb her waist length hair and pin it in a bun, and cover it with a kerchief for the day of work to come.

One afternoon, I was helping (along with a number of other family members) pick cucumbers and pepper corns.
I hadn't taken gloves, and much to my city slicker surprise.....they've got pricks sticking out of them...and they freakin' hurt!
Well, I whined about that.
I imagine a whined just about enough for my grandmother, because she sent my whiney ass home.
I walked all the way back to town from the field.
It was miles.
She didn't tolerate my whiney, sucky attitude, and showed me so.
Hmmm...I think that (and many others)experience might have something to do with my lack of tolerance for the sucky and whiney.

PS. Did you know that peppercorns grow in a pomegranite type of plant, only the texture of the surface is like the outside of a wasp's nest?