Winter’s north wind swept across fields and pasture leaving crystal gowns of white on every twig and blade. Soft mountain soil turned hard as rock, and Kelly’s Creek was framed with snow and icicles that hung like big clothespins holding mountain laurel leaves in place. It was winter delights.
Sounds of Mama loading the firebox in the end of her wood cook stove signaled the start of the day. From my tiny bedroom I could hear her breaking ice in the water buckets with a rolling pin on the back porch. A squeaking door hinge told she was bringing the water bucket inside to heat it on the stove. After she washed her hands in the warmed water, she sifted about two pounds of White Lily flour into a tan wooden bowl. Unclothing the top of a five gallon churn that sat in the corner, her fingers scooped lard she had rendered in November and added it to the flour. Next she poured risen whey off the top of fresh buttermilk and poured the thick milk into the flour and lard mixture to work the dough for biscuits. Once she finished kneading the soft dough, she pinched off perfect size portions to shape into cathead biscuits. A piping hot pan of morning delights soon emerged from the oven. Added to the morning feast were fried sausage, cream gravy and hot buttered applesauce. This is winter delights!
Outside oak wood smoke moved slowly upward until it dropped and settled close to the ground mingling with falling snow.
A bone chilling wind blew thin dustings of powdered snow underneath the weather cracked front door. Sometimes it whistled down the rock chimney sending gray smoke through the house. Mama said, “Durn th’luck! I get one gaum cleaned up and here comes another ‘en! She grabbed two empty dishpans to fan the smoke back outside. It looked like we were going off on a train.
We waited long winter days near the warmth of the mud-daubed fireplace. Flickers of amber glowed against a plank ceiling as we waited for the spring thaw, with full tummies and hope of warmer days.
Let us know how you like this article by Barbara Woodall Taylor in the comment window below.
Her book is available and you can find it on the right side of this page or order it below. It is well worth the reading. I can hardly put mine down!
~BLESSINGS TO Y’ALL~
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