This morn I rose at 4:30 am, a full hour before our normal rising time. I crept silently past John and down the back hall steps and entered my clean kitchen with a smile. It had been many years since I started the day in a clean, orderly kitchen. I felt a new zest for life just bursting within me!
I started the stove and got the large pots on to boil for a bath. I took a nice soak and scrubbed my hair. A nice dash of rose water graced my bath and it clung to my skin when I got out and dried off. My hair took longer to brush than I thought, but I wanted it to lay like silk so I brushed every tangle out thoroughly. After dressing in my best dress again, I put a large pot of oatmeal on and the coffee to perk. I went out to get some fresh eggs from the hens and came in to work on making John and the children a delicious breakfast. No more hastily prepared meals was my hope. I set the table up real pretty with a little vase of my own sunflowers I had grown. The field of sunflowers I had planted, in hopes of harvesting and selling them was wasting away. But, I wouldn't dwell on that today!
After waking everyone and getting the children washed and into clothes , I dashed back to the kitchen to put the last touches on breakfast. Pipin' hot oatmeal with a generous dressing of maple syrup, bacon fried up crisp but not overdone and some fresh scrambled eggs--oh it looked all too delicious on the table! I think John was in shock as when he came down the stairs he just muttered a bit sleepily, "What's this all about"? I could tell he was pleased though. The children had smiles a mile wide as they sat down to our little breakfast feast. I wanted a cheery table to start the day.
John finished his coffee and sighed most contentedly. He said, "I am off to do the milkin' now". This was a moment I was secretly dreading as I usually go and help him. I gave him a peck on the cheek to his surprise and told him a hearty lunch would be waiting for him at noon. He looked a bit puzzled, but went on his way.
I sent little Jim off to school with his tin lunch box packed with a nice slice of ham from last nights sup and bread with apple butter and a wedge of apple pie. That spotted shirtwaist still bothered me, but no bother, I knew that wouldn't happen again after today!
The little ones were going to go off on their own adventures , but I decided that from now on they would be stayin' close to me. RuthAnn and Bobby were sent up to their rooms with instructions to take the quilts and sheets from their beds and bring them down to the kitchen. Autumn has arrived and I really needed to get the warmer bedding on. After putting the kitchen in order I stripped my bed of the summer quilts and sheets and opened the windows to air the room. I took all the warmer bedding to the clothes line to air out and was thankful I had the forethought to spread my homegrown lavender buds between the layers before packing them for the summer. Everything smelled heavenly! Then I attacked the wash which had piled up for well over a week! All ten ropes on my clothesline had fresh, clean laundry and bedding blowing in the breeze. The children and I dusted and mopped the bedrooms til they were shining. After we were done, RuthAnn wanted to play with her paper dolls and Bobby wanted to play with his blocks in their bedrooms. They never wanted to stay in their rooms before, but how could they, with such an unorganized mess! Now there was order and it all felt so good.
While the children were occupied I made a dough for a crust and wrapped that in a damp tea towel to put in the icebox. I also put a chicken on to boil and made a cup of tea. John had done some figurin' last night and now it was my turn to put some thoughts on paper. The tomatoes would be too far gone by now, but that didn't mean I couldn't make a fair amount of tomato soup,relishes and sauces for canning. I could fill my pantry shelves with the bounty of the farm. We certainly won't starve that way! The children needed some warm sweaters and mittens. I would start taking some time here and there and get to my knittin' basket. A whole basket of wool I dyed last year with the goldenrod was just waitin' to be spun and knit up. I still can't believe I am thinkin' this way, what with the tomatoes and apples going to waste! I took that little hanky from my bosom and breathed in the feminine fragrance that lingered and quickly put those thoughts from my head. I would see that as much as possible didn't go to waste--that was my job! Creative ways to use the surplus produce swirled through my brain! Some sewing needed doing too. A few new dresses for RuthAnn and I . Shirts and pants for the boys and John. I do wish I was a better seamstress, but I will do my best.
Lunch was nearing and I put the finishing touches on a tasty chicken pie. Into the cookstove it went and it was bubbling and had a golden crust when I rang the big bell for John to come in to wash up. I do believe John was still in a bit of shock with all this, but he did comment that lunch was right tastey and the braids in my hair looked pretty. I was a bit lighter on my feet this afternoon from the compliments!
Little Jim came home from school with a note from his teacher, Miss Bradford. She said he is having a bit of trouble with his math facts and spelling. A pang of quilt rose hot in my chest as I realized that if I had taken the time to help him with his homework this may not have happened. The children had a glass of milk with a slice of bread and strawberry preserves, put up last year from our strawberry patch. When they finished I told them we were going to harvest some of the potatoes. We all worked hard to fill that bushel basket and little Jim loaded it onto his radio flyer wagon and brought it to the house for me. I put a bucket of water and the scrubber on the porch with instructions for the children to wash the taters clean of dirt. While they scrubbed I set the table and started a base for a ham and potato soup. I also made some more of my light and fluffy biscuits and got a pumpkin pie into the oven. I can't say how much I was enjoyin' cookin' again---it sure felt good takin' care of my family like this! While Jim went out to finish the evenin' chores I had the children help wash the dishes then got them all bathed and scrubbed clean til they were pink! It felt so good to take care of the children. Women are the nurturers in the home my Ma used to say.
John came back in and I had hot coffee and pumpkin pie for him and he sat with little Jim and went over his math facts and spelling words with him. I had shared Miss Bradford's report out of little Jim's earshot. I didn't want him feelin' bad when it was our fault for neglectin' his education. The little one's and I went upstairs and read a bit of Winnie-The- Pooh. I tucked my children into nice warm, clean sheets and quilts that smelled faintly of lavender. When was the last time I had read to my babies?
When I came down I put more water on to boil and told John it was his turn for a nice relaxin' bath. He was so surprised I had to repeat what I said! Little Jim was sent upstairs to do some reading. As he gets a bit older I will let him keep the lamp on for a spell and read a story of his choice. Seems Treasure Island has caught his fancy. While my husband enjoyed his bath I sat down to do a bit of mending by the fire I had lit earlier. When he came down he looked like a new man! All clean shaven in his pajama's I had washed that morn. John said he tucked little Jim in with an encouragin' word about his schooling and told me he would keep an eye on his learnin'. I put my mendin' basket aside and ironed a clean shirt and pants for little Jim. I won't have him going to school all disheveled and dirty anymore. John did a bit more figurin' by the light of the oil lamp while I got him a shirt and pants ironed for tomorrow too. John told me, " On my way home tomorrow from deliverin' the milk I think I will stop by Percy's General Store and see if he needs any hay. That south field is full and we will have enough for our own animals and plenty left over." That got me to thinkin'. "John", I said, " Do you think you could inquire of Percy if he needs any eggs, the hens are laying plenty for us and then some". "Sure, it can't hurt to ask . All ol' Percy can say is no I reckon", John answered.
John and I headed up to bed and by the light of the lamp I have written my day down. It's been a good long time since I kept a diary. I think I shall like keepin' one again and it will be good to record how my days progress. Tonight I 'm fallin' into bed tired, but not the exhausted , defeatin' kind of tired I have felt for years now. No, this was the kind of day I dreamed of when I first got married. Sleep tonight will be sweet indeed!