Friday, June 14, 2013

Food Memories

I finally got my garden installed and lookie...I have tomatoes.  This little wonder plant is called "Juliette" and last year it produced tons of grape-like flavor filled tomatoes.  I also have tiny cucumbers, and potatoes that were left over from last year and popped up this year!  We'll see how that goes. 
Since we've done some landscaping in the backyard we also added some fruit options:  thornless blackberries, grapes and figs.  The fig trees are just loaded and the grapes seem to be doing fine too.  I don't care if I use the grapes, the birds can eat all they want, I am quite capable of making some tasty grape jelly.  We had grapevines at one of our other houses and they were wonderful.  The Hubby has an obsession for "vines" of any kind so to appease his desire we settled on grapevines.   That same house we had a neighbor who was of Lebanese decent and made grape-leaf rolls from our grape leaves of which she shared with us and her homemade yogurt...drooling!

Figs bring wonderful memories for me.  When the landscaper said she was going to plant them I smiled with the sweet memory of yet another neighbor when I was a child.  Next door to us growing up was an elderly couple named Mr. & Mr. Schumacher.  His name was Herman and her's Elsie.  The neighborhood kids thought they were mean and said she was a witch.  They didn't have children together but he had a daughter I never met.  When my brother, sister and I walked to school he would sit on his front porch or in his front picture window when cold and wave to us, every morning and every afternoon.  We drew pictures for them and gave them gifts for Christmas as they did us, inexpensive dime store gifts that we could afford with our small amount of savings.  Mrs. Schumacher was a heavy-set woman who was of the generation of wearing dresses everyday.  She had the most wonderful gray hair that she kept braided and wound around her head.  On the days she washed it she would take that braid down and her hair hung nearly to her knees.  She would walk up and down the sidewalk with it flowing behind her drying in the breeze.  It was a sight that made an impression on this young girl.  We all still thought she was kind of a shrew but we three children kind of mellowed her.  

Mr. Schumacher was a jewel.  He was a kind man who loved us.  When he wasn't in the window or on the porch we knew he would be sick and we would take him candy or cake or something to make him feel better.  I think I was his favorite because one day when I got home from school he called and told my mother he had a surprise for me and to meet him over the fence in the backyard.  I went out in the back to see him standing at the fence and he showed me a little tree that he was always fussing over.  There on that tree was a fruit, a fig.  It was a fig tree.  I had never seen anything like it.  He picked that fig, showed it too me then cut it open and let me have a taste.  I had never eaten anything like it.  It was the first one off of his new tree and he shared it with me.  So these fig trees make me smile with such a sweet memory of a gentle elderly friend.
After Mrs. Schumacher passed away, he sold the house and moved to Wagoner to be closer to his daughter.  I was married but continued to correspond with him and still have the wonderful letters he sent and signed in his shaky elderly fashion, Herman Schumacher.  It broke my heart when he died I heartbroken and attended his very strange funeral (they spoke in tongues and fell on the floor) for my friend.  I still have a little glass jar containing a pine-scented candle that he gave us kids for Christmas one year.  It is very special and I will never get rid of it.

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