Isabel dried and put away the last dish and smiled as she surveyed the clean kitchen before heading to her favorite rocking chair in the living room. She sighed as she sank into the gray platform rocker her daughter had given her last Christmas.
Isabel closed her eyes and basked in the knowledge that all her tasks were done for the day. She heard the screen door clap and caught a whisk of woodsmoke in the air. She breathed deeply and smiled; thinking of days gone by.
“Nannie, Nannie, look what I found!”
Isabel opened her eyes to see what treasure her small granddaughter discovered. “Leaves!” There is probably a trail of leaves throughout the house. Instead, she smiled and reached to the child who crawled onto her lap.
“Aint it beautiful, Nannie? I have more too. They are different colors,” the child said as she pulled yellow, red, orange and brown leaves from her jacket pocket.
“They’re lovely,” Isabel said and repositioned her granddaughter in order to get a better look at the treasures.”I love fall. Especially and changing leaves and the scent of woodsmoke in the air. When I was a little girl, I loved playing in the leaves too. Papa would always fuss at us for jumping into the leaves and then he would join us,” she said with a smile.
“You were a little girl?”
“Oh yes, but that was a long time ago. I had a Mama, a Papa, six brothers and two sisters.”
“Yes, wow is a good description. Some days, I don’t how Mama kept up with all of us.”
The child scooted back against her grandmother with a look of anticipation of a good story. She wasn’t disappointed.
“Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a little girl just like you. I had the sweetest mother who never raised her voice. I always knew when she was angry though. She flared her nostrils. Like this.”
“You’re funny, Nannie!” the child said as she imitated her grandmother.
“She always knew how to make learning fun and delighted us all with her music. She played five instruments, you know. I can still hear her voice singing hymns as she rocked her babies to sleep. She sang all the time. In the kitchen while cooking and cleaning, hanging the laundry or helping Papa pile up leaves for us to jump in!”
“You jumped in leaves?”
“Oh, yes. We had a wonderful time. We helped rake the leaves into a big pile and jumped into them; raked them into a pile and jumped again!” Nannie said with a chuckle. “We must have spent hours outside playing in the leaves. Mama said it guaranteed a good night sleep and she was right. That nice fall breeze across our faces felt good as we worked and played in the leaves and then when we were finally getting tired, Papa put the leaves in one final pile and started a fire, Mama would bring sausage links outside for us to roast over the fire and then we would have homemade marshmallows for dessert. We roasted them over the fire too. By the time the leaves were burned up, our tummies were full and we were ready for bed!
“Nannie, may we rake leaves and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire like you did?”
“We’ll see. Perhaps next week. Just close your eyes and dream about it tonight.”
“Okay, Nannie. I love you.”
“I love you too.” Isabel placed a kiss on the child’s head and carefully carried her to her room. “Sweet dreams, little one!”
Photography by Kathie Kingrey Photography
Model for Mama: Isabel’s granddaughter, Emily.