"I've discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it."
- William Faulkner

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

memories...like the corners of my mind...

I talked to someone this morning about growing tomatoes in a pot.

I've seen it done - I know it can happen. Dr. Dirt told me which ones worked and which ones didn't. I would love a fresh tomato every night with my dinner. I had some heirloom tomatoes at Haley's house this weekend, and they were wonderful (she of course did not grow them, but they were delish nonetheless). For those of you who that love a mater, these are worth searching for and spending a little money on. But I digress.

This post started out dedicated to tomato growth. I know nothing of the subject. I wasn't going to act as though I did, just share what I learned from Dr. Dirt. Instead, I felt led to tell my loyal following about my Mimi - something about tomatoes makes me think of her.

It is no secret that I have a black thumb. My grandmother, Fisher Hubbard, in her heyday was a renaissance woman - seamstress, master crafter, chef, do-it-herselfer, fisherwoman and gardener extraordinnaire. I can still remember looking out her back windows and seeing the rows of veggies and herbs she grew in her own backyard. That yard always looked so big to me, and a part of me is glad I may never see it again so I can keep my own image of it. She's not able to do a lot of the things she loved doing once, but I hope just a little of her lives on in me. I learned so much from her, and many of my fondest memories involve her.

We never wanted for anything at Mimi's house. There were always good snacks, she had Nickelodeon, and there was always something to do. She once bought us a few yards of stretchy pink lace fabric with little gold threading. I'm sure it didn't cost her much, but Harris and I thought it was beautiful. I can still remember us trying to decide what to make with it and Mimi patiently teaching us how to thread a needle and make our first simple stitches.

She always had tomatoes in the window in her kitchen. They sat among a Bluebird of Paradise above the clean dishes drying in the sink. Most of the time they came from her garden outside and I suppose were placed there to ripen in the sun. To this day, the smell of a fresh tomato reminds me of her. And it was in her garden that I learned what dill smells like. She doesn't live in that house anymore, but I could still describe nearly every inch of it to you.

Mimi's kitchen table is in my apartment right now. Some of the best meals I remember were eaten at that table - not that I prepared, mind you. She never was a complicated cook, never used fancy ingredients like truffle oil or saffron (that I know of), but her fried chicken was the real thing, and she was never afraid to make caramel icing, which she referred to as caramel candy when unaccompanied by cake. Leftovers were always stored in a Cool Whip container, labeled with masking tape bearing the contents and its date.

I can see now the sewing machine that sat in Mimi's bedroom, right in front of a couple of small drawers that always held Doublemint gum. The thought of making something wearable or useable out of a piece of fabric was always fascinating to me, and she made it happen all the time. She would sit on a stool with a cross-pointed seat and make everything from clothes for us and clothes for our dolls to exquisite quilts, which Harris and I will undoubtedly fight over one day. One such quilt was on my bed until I was about 12 years old.

I could go on and on about Mimi, and even the memories I've recounted today don't do her justice. Most everyone has grandmothers who were great cooks and sewed or quilted, but I can assure you none of them were like my Mimi. I'm not able to see her as much now as I'd like, and it wouldn't be the same anyway. I'll still ask my mom, as I always have, to re-tell stories of my grandmother and the crazy things she did, and we'll pass down her recipes, home remedies and creative shortcuts to family and friends alike from years to come.

Mimi will be 89 this August. I'd love to plant a tomato plant in her honor. I know she'll be proud.


KK said...

You go and plant those maters! Did Dr. Dirt happen to tell you what time of year is best for mater growing?

I can taste a fresh tomato sliced and seasoned with salt & pepper, a couple of pieces of crispy bacon, lettuce and a littl mayo. The best mater sandwiches are with good old white bread. My Granny could make one to die for! Does anybody even use white bread anymore?

Harris Helen said...

i LOVED that pink fabric! and i know exactly the drawer that had Doublemint gum in it! she had some great stuff in her attic! remember gluing sequins on magazine pages?

Jess said...

Definitely plant some pot tomatoes! My dad (now retired) loves to garden in pots on the patio and has good luck with it! Go for it! :)

Emily Gnemi said...

Hey MS! You just about made me cry! My Mamaw always had Doublemint gum too and she made the best fried chicken but her gravy was the greatest - my sister and I ate it on everything! My sweet Mamaw passed away last March.... I miss her everyday and you just made me smile so big thinking about her. Thanks!!

The Beidleman's said...

My grandmother is also 89 and I am still fascinated by her. She still makes the BEST homemade rolls.

Plant you some tomatoes! :)

Anisa said...

really sweet and special post. very touching.

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