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Published on July 6, 2021


As seasons pass, ordinary memories grow sweeter

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

Seasons are always changing in the cycle of life. Some are welcomed, and others not so much.

Every now and then, we resist the changes like the child who wants, “just one more drink of water” as they attempt a final stand before falling into gentle, peaceful, and quiet slumber. It is an appointed time for their benefit, and ours.

We watch their resistance with wonder because we have reached the age of accountability. We now know sleep is a precious thing, and one to be desired. We would like to convey this sage wisdom to them and tell them to enjoy it while they can. For the most part, they aren’t buying it.

We know the day is coming when a good night’s sleep will be number two on their list of things most desired. Anyone who has reached this age stage will testify the first item on the list is rolls of one-ply, two-ply, or quilted varieties of a commodity that can be squeezed, if Mr. Whipple isn’t around.

The age of accountability also brings added benefits, like 20/20 vision. Unfortunately, it only works if you’re looking backwards. That’s why older people love to tell stories about their childhood.

These stories always appear to be centered around ordinary, everyday things that were repetitive and mundane at the time but have now reached a high elevation in our minds. Therefore, they seem magical and worth repeating, over and over.

This repeating part really gets on our kid’s nerves, which is puzzling to us. But repeat I shall, as I take you back to sun-dried sheets, bathing and the smell and feel of making the bed on the farm.

This week, as I was getting the sheets out of the dryer to make my bed, suddenly, I was back on the farm.
It was a Monday afternoon, and I was taking the sheets off the clothesline. Great skill was required to remove the clothes pins with one hand, slide the clothespin bag down the wire with the other hand, and all the while holding the sheets up off the ground. Indeed, this is one of those 20/20 chores that now evokes magical memories. How, I loved snuggling the sheets close to my face, and smelling the crisp cleanliness.

There is something intoxicating about the smell of sun-dried sheets. Perfumers have tried to capture the scent with linen scented spray, but it’s just not the same. I feel certain, if we could get close enough to the sun to smell it, it would smell just like sun-dried sheets that have swayed back and forth in the breeze all day long.

Making the beds on the farm was another learned skill. First, the sheets weren’t fitted, and this required expertise to tuck the corners under the mattress to create a tight fit. Next, you moved to the side of the bed and held the top sheet with both hands and flung it high into the air, and watched it descend like a magic carpet, ever so softly. Once the top sheet came to rest on the mattress, it was smoothed flat with your hands, and tucked neatly under the foot of the mattress.

Moving on in the process, if you had two pillowcases that matched, (we never did), now was the time to push the feather pillows inside and pick out any wayward feathers poking through. The pièce de résistance in the daily bed-making process was covering the bed with the knobby chenille bedspread.

The process was a little different Tuesday through Sunday since sheets were only washed on Monday. For those in-between days, the top sheet was removed, and used sort of like a rug beater on the bottom sheet. Then the top sheet was flung into the air again, smoothed, tucked, and topped with the bedspread.

The beating of the bottom sheet everyday was a needed function since bathing on the farm was also a once-a-week thing. That’s because bathing involving a #3 washtub that had been filled bucket by bucket with well water.

Once filled, it required two people to carry it into the kitchen, where water was heated in tea kettles to warm it up a little. Then, everyone waited outside the kitchen for their turn with the bar of lye soap, and to bath in the same water.

As I mentally returned to today and finished making my bed, I was longing for the smell of sun-dried sheets. Then, I realized one day I will look back on today and probably remember this day as a magical day. Truly, today is my season, and the best parts of life are all the little ones added up.

This soup is my kids’, Shawn and Mandy’s, favorite. When they need comforting, or the familiarity of memories, they always ask for it. I am certain it involves much more than the taste; probably it evokes a magical memory in their lives.

Cheese Soup Recipe

NOTES: Use Russet potatoes for this recipe. Pare and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. I prefer the taste of Pet Evaporated milk, but you can use any brand. Do not drain the liquid from the cooked potatoes.
In a large soup pot, combine:

1/3 Cup finely chopped Onions
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Lightly sauté the onions until translucent.
Add:
6 Cups cubed Potatoes
1/2 Cup chopped Carrots
3 1/2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons “Better than Bouillon” Chicken Base

Bring to a full boil, reduce heat to a medium boil and cook for 20 minutes.

Add:

1/3 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 Ounces Velveeta cheese
1/2 Stick Butter
1 1/4 Cups Pet Evaporated Milk

Using a hand mixer or an immersion blender - I love the immersion blender - blend until smooth.
NOTE:  You may need to add a little regular milk if the consistency is too thick, or to reheat once refrigerated.

To serve: Ladle into bowls and top with a little shredded cheese and crumbled bacon. 

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)