Sunday, crossing my clover lawn in the early morning to go fool around in the garden, I saw the light come on in the kitchen of the house next door, which made me remember a wonderful woman named Peggy who lived in that house, years ago. You would have loved her. I took to her the first time we met which was right after we moved into our house on Spring Street. She was little, round, soft and floury, like a baking powder biscuit, and she always wore an apron. Something about her made you want to get under her arm and have her tell you a story; (and then, maybe put you down for a nap). We’d visit over the picket fence that separated our houses; I’d be working in my garden, she’d be coming out her kitchen door to hang clothes on the line; we’d meet in the middle and talk over the hydrangea bushes while birds sang and bees buzzed around us.
See the light in the kitchen door? That’s her house, on the other side of the garden.
I always loved the way her house smelled from across our lawn; she put dinner into the wind every night, pork chops frying, meat loaf baking, chicken stock bubbling, always something. Over time, I learned that she was the mother of seven boys and the oldest sister of five girls. Her parents had died together in some sort of terrible accident when she was around 17 and so she raised her sisters alone. She must have been made of pure fortitude.
One blustery fall day she called me to the fence, saying,”Susan, I have something I want to give you.” In her hands was a freshly baked! Still warm! Sweet Potato Pie! She was giving it to me! It was covered with a very old, many times laundered, linen cloth that had a green stripe down one side, and a tiny frayed hole in the corner. She had baked us a pie for no reason. The cloth alone was enough to make me cry (something about that little hole), but the pie! At the fence! By the kitchen door! When the leaves were falling! It was too much.
That’s how she was. Once I found an old bud vase, etched all over with tiny roses, filled with wildflowers, waiting for me on the porch when I came home, with a note that said, “Thought you would like this.” Like it? Like it???
I never knew her as well as I wished; she and her husband only came down for summers; we were respectful neighbors, giving each other space; I learned a lot about her just from our visits in the garden. You always think there’s time; but that clock never stops ticking, and as it turned out, Peggy didn’t have many years left.
She’s been gone for a long time now; between the two houses, her roses and my hydrangeas are tangled and overgrown…but I won’t ever forget her; her kindness is as fresh now as it ever was. For no reason, she baked us a pie.
I wrote about Peggy in my Sweets to the Sweet book, but there’s never enough room on a page to say everything — I ended that story with How to Bake a Peggy Pie….She was one of the people who taught me how important the little things in life can be. ♥
Speaking of little things, (much littler than pie tho’) a new Willard starts going out Tuesday morning! It takes a couple of days for them all to go, so don’t
worry, it will be on its way. If you don’t know what, who, why is a Willard, go to the column over there→ and read all about it.♥ Just another way for me to thank you for all the support and inspiration I’ve gotten from you over the years! Read it, you are almost entered in our Bag ‘O Books Contest!
That’s all for today… here you go, deep breath,
“The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn (yes they do!); the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops (I see that!) and summer sweetens all to me.”