Grandma Grace

I spent summers with grandma in her cabin about half-way between Peckwan and Weitchepec in Northern California.  Bigfoot Country. Tall trees, clear rivers, bone-deep poverty, and wild salmon. Land of the Yurok. Grandpa lived in the cabin too but he owned a gypo logging company and was mostly gone, working in the woods.  Grandma didn’t have a dog or a cat but she had dozens of pet toads.

toad II

I’m not making this this up, I swear.

Peckwan summers are hot and dry and dusty. While Grandma did her daily housework, I dug around under the cabin and poked through the leaves under the oak trees and gathered worms and bug.   Each afternoon grandma and I carried bucket after bucket of water from the creek behind the cabin to the big flower pots strewn around her front porch.

This was the beginning of the high point of my day.

Once the pots were all peeing a stream of runoff, Grandma gave me the nod and I tapped on the wooden porch with a magic rock. (That rock HAD to be magic. How else to explain what happened next?)

Dozens of toads pushed bumpy heads and flat, lumpy backs out of the wet dirt of the pots, leaped with abandon and landed with soft belly-flops onto the deck.  I sat, flat-butted, on the porch beside Grandma, bug jar clutched tight, trembling with the joy watching those toads come to me for their afternoon treat.

The slap of toad bellies on wood, Grandma’s encouraging voice in my ear, that moment is still the quintessential moment of anticipation for me.   More than anticipation, the memory of those moments–sweat trickling down my spine, the smell of fir and pine and oak dust in the air mixing with wet smell of the mud we’d just made in the pots lining the porch–that moment is my grace.  My go-to memory when the world seems a complicated and undecipherable place.

We all need those moments, those memories.

What is yours? Will you share it with me?


About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
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10 Responses to Grandma Grace

  1. Love this! My go-to memory is standing next to my grandmother–who always wore pink and smelled of roses–as she beat the heck out of bread dough. The yeasty smell and the flour flying into the air was as magical as Grandma’s hands. The slap, knead, turn rhythm pounding into my ears was like a cadence. I can still close my eyes and hear the plop of light, airy bread dough against the counter top. Even better? Was 2 hours later when the baked bread came out of the oven and we slathered it with homemade butter. Wow. Think I’ll go whip up a batch a bread now. 😉

  2. Jan Morrill says:

    My moment involves my grandma, too. There was a field in the middle of a forest behind her house. In my memory, it was filled with beautiful yellow flowers (they were probably dandelions) and somehow, the sun always shone right smack on that spot. One day, we found what we thought were magical creatures dug into the ground near a creek in the forest.

    One of my siblings–I don’t remember who, that’s not important–ran back to my grandmother’s house to get her to come see our magical creature. In my child’s mind, her house must have been a mile away, but it was probably only a couple hundred yards.

    Like grandmas always do, she dropped everything. Bear in mind, this was a era when everything was done from scratch. Not like she turned the microwave off — she was probably making biscuits, or de-feathering a chicken.

    How excited we all were to see her coming over the hill to share our magic. When she got there, she peeked into the hole, rose again and smiled. “Why, it looks like you’ve found a mud puppy.”

    A mud puppy? Why those two little words hold more magic for me today that “abracadabra.”

    Didn’t mean to go on that long, Pam, but thanks so much for sharing your happy memory, and inspiring mine. 🙂

  3. keliwright says:

    I have 2 Grandma Graces! I think you and I must be soul-sisters.

    One of my go-to memories occurred when I was 8 or 9. It was summertime, and I was sitting by Lake Chelan pondering the stones on the lake bottom near the shore. It was the first time I remember having a literary epiphany: the water was alabaster. For some reason that memory gives me great peace.

  4. One of my many go-to memories happened in the late summer of 2003. I was with my Ya-Yas, on a road trip to Prince Edward Island. It was our first full day there, and we were itching to see the fabled red-sand beaches. Our innkeeper directed us to two places; the first an overlook, and the second a beach.
    We stopped at the overlook on our way to the beach, and had our collective breath taken away by the spectacular view. It was all bluebell sky, denim ocean, and rust-red sand. Once we regained our breath, we sang a verse of “Amazing Grace” in four-part harmony, as we’re wont to do. Magic.

  5. tvonzalez says:

    My “G” post features a toad – I lurvs them and they are so good for the garden!

    AtoZ Mighty Minion giving you a visit.

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