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.”
What a wonderful tribute to Peggy. I hope many of us have been lucky enough to have known someone just like her. I know I have.
Reading your post as I sit here sipping my first cup of coffee has been the perfect way to begin this Monday morning. Just reading about Peggy made me feel warm and cozy. How nice to have had a neighbor like her. I love your description of her being round and soft … like a baking powder biscuit :-).
I have many of your books, but not Sweets to the Sweet. Don’t know how I missed that one, but I will be on the lookout for it now. Your Peggy Pie recipe is so very sweet.
Thank you, Susan, for deciding to do your blog. It is simply delightful.
Have a great week.
oh wow I have a huge lump in my throat…but in a good way.. thank you for sharing that story.. a reminder that it is the smallest of gestures that are forever remembered. I believe whole heartedly that gifts that are homemade are truly from the heart… thank you for always inspiring us to live that way..
I also loved the comment “round and soft”. Whenever, I make the comment that I need to loose weight, my daughter says, I want my children to have a round and squishy grandma not a a skinny one. Your posts just make me want to stay home and nest. Love you!
Oh Susan what an amazing post, I think they can’t get any better and then here you go with such a great memory!
Now having a new Willard in my inbox is so exciting!! How do I say thank you ??
You are such a blessing!!!!
That “how do I say thank you” goes both ways . . .xo
Thank you for sharing a touchingly beautiful memory…
A heart-warming story to begin my day. Been on the road driving, driving, and more driving up Florida…nice bit of warmth to read in my cold motel room this am. Thank you 🙂
Dear Susan, Isn’t just wonderful how the smallest kindnesses are sometimes the most meaningful? Peggy sounds like she was always a kind and giving person from the time that her parents passed until she finished raising her 7 sons.
Your blog and all of your beautiful, artful writings are such wonderful examples of that lovely philosophy. No matter how sophisticated we become, the simple things are what atter the most.
Oh, I love the Peggy story. Seven boys! I am sure you blessed her with your listening ear and your admiration. Talking over the fence is almost a lost art!
I have the sweets book on a shelf right here and I’m going to find that dear little puff of lovely Peggy in just a moment and have a read. Happy new week, Susan. Oh! You’ll like this. Yesterday I needed a little antique store dose so I browsed around a booth mall and found an adorable Beatrix Potter RIBBY (the one where she holds the BUTTER) for $32. I bought it for myself. I came home and looked Ribby up online and found this one sells for $295! Yikes. I put her in MY studio (aka room full of my stuff). I noticed you have little BP figures, too. Isn’t that fun?
That is so fabulous! Love it!!!
What a wonderful story to have on a Monday morning. I hope that we are all blessed to have a Peggy in our lives at some point, or to be a Peggy to someone, too, more in the essence of kindness, thoughtfulness and neighborliness than anything else. Thank you for sharing her with us!
It is looking quite stormy here again today, but yesterday was a picture perfect summer day; bright blue skies, fuzzy cotton ball clouds and a wonderful breeze stirring the branches of the trees outside. Had a wonderful picnic on the lawn at our local outdoor concert theater, and just enjoyed everything! Hope your day is like yesterday was; enjoy it!
Hello sweetie – I had to comment on this one, it is so beautiful: “she put dinner into the wind every night…” perfect! You KNOW that I had my own Peggy, although I knew her very well. Magical memories, thanks so much. Love you xoxoxo Me
Love the story about Peggy, she was a one of a kind and some of us are lucky enough to find one in our lifetime. Really makes my day when I can sit back with a cup of tea with you and enjoy a time when we can all be transformed to a memory that you share. You are a beautiful person and very caring<3
What an amazing story you have shared with us! Peggy was truly one in a million!
Is that a blueberry pie in the picture? Our blueberries are ripe now, and I baked a blueberry pie yesterday! Also, I LOVE your clover lawn, just like ours.:-) I look forward to the new Willard. Have a great day! xoxo
What a lovely story, Susan! Shades of times not so long ago…can still see my mom talking to Sally (on the north), Darlene (on the south) and MaryJo (behind us). Like a little village, everyone looked out for everyone in the neighborhood. We travelled from house to house and yard to yard…lots of kids and our parents knew us all. ☺
I have never personally met you…. we don’t share a neighborhood ….and you haven’t baked me a lovely pie, BUT, you certainly are my Peggy. You are all the wonderful, heartfelt, and joyous things that are good in this life. I turn to your writings and art for comfort, inspiration, and to have a chuckle over everyday happenings and shared memories. Your new blog and Willard offers joy to us all and I thank you, Susan.
Well said! I completely agree.
What a wonderful story….God rest Peggy’s soul and bless her memory ! Thank you for sharing…and the wonderful way you have of writing about it. And a shout out to my first next door neighbor… almost 35 years ago she would give me plant cuttings and when I would try to thank her she would say “Don’t say thank you…it won’t grow !”
I had read “How to Bake a Peggy Pie” in your Sweets to the Sweet cookbook, but today when you told more of the story about Peggy, it gave me goosebumps! I loved reading your post today. It is important to know how little acts of kindness can leave a mark for a lifetime! Thanks so much for sharing Peggy with us. You are such a sweetie pie! xoxo
Thank you, Susan, for that touching remembrance of what sounds like a truly beautiful woman. Everyone should have a neighbor like Peggy in their lives…and maybe WE need to be “Peggy” to those around us?! Happy Monday!
There’s nothing I can add except I just love you, Susan Branch! Your uplifting reminders to live life every day, your words, drawings, love that you show, all just lift my hopes that the world will really be OK. Thanks for the sunshine, sunshine!!
Thanks Susan, some friends stay with us always…and thats as it should be..
Peggy brought to mind my grandmother, Pearl, who was the same kind of woman, only a red-headed, feisty mountain woman. I adored her….a psychic once told me that she was my guardian angel and I like to think that is true. Thank you for reminding us all of the many “Peggy’s” in our world.
It is little kindnesses like Peggy’s that make life so good. And it’s always such a right-down-to-your-very-soul sweet thing when you meet someone who shows/reminds you of the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to live. Your own illustrations and writings always do that for me, which is why I love you. 🙂
I have a feeling that somewhere in this world there will be neighbors giving Peggy Pies and neighbors receiving Peggy Pies because of you sharing this story. Ripples.
Hi Susan: Thanks for the Peggy story. It has set off memories in my mind of one of our neighbors when I was growing up–she was a “Peggy type” who was also like a adopted grandmother to me. When I think back, it is amazing to realize what an influence she was on my life. Thanks for your writing and inspiring us to be “Peggy” to others we come into contact with. One never knows the effect a simple act of kindness can have on another person or the wonderful memories it can make…
So lovely! You are the master of teaching us how very important the tiny details are! How many times do we miss these sweet and tender moments?…How many events can we go back, in our minds, and recall, only adding the tiny colorful warm details? You constantly teach us that we must not: overlook the finer things in the every day paths our day takes us on. There is a story and a smile in the simple things….we must seek to capture it, to embrace each part of our day, and, Oh! how it will enrich our lives!
I read this on my break during my work day, and just the pictures alone bring me to a very comfortable and special ‘zone’ that will defy the seemingly big issues, the taxing problems and demands in my ‘office life’. I can smell the doughy warmth of the kitchen, and hear the birds near the window, and in my mind I have my apron on, not heels.
Thank you for your precious tribute to Peggy and the importance of the ‘light in the kitchen door’.
You made me cry today as I read the post about Peggy and her generosity and spirit. Love the phase “put dinner into the wind.” Think you should coin that one. I’m going to use it next time I make something for dinner that smells good and open all the windows. It would be a great blessing to become a “Peggy.”
What an inspiring post, thank you the the sweetness you spread in a sometimes sour world. Love you xoxo
I love it that you’re going to open all your windows! Now I want to move in next door!
I’ll move next door on the other side–especially if you share what you are baking!!! 🙂
We would have the best smelling prettiest neighborhood in the country!
Thanks for sharing such a touching story. I wish more people did nice things for other people “just because.” Unfortunately, many people today aren’t as generous or as friendly as they used to be. What some people don’t realize is how wonderful an act of kindness can make us feel, not to mention how great it makes the recipient feel! Please keep sharing your life with us, Susan!! Your blog is a great place to visit!
You are Killing me with those wonderful words of fond memories, garden flowers and green grass worth waiting a winter for, and warm homemade pies I want to dive into. STOP before I die from just imagining the everyday happy blessings on Spring Street.
And now you take over where Sweet Peggy left off – a very nice legacy indeed.
Can I be your neighbor?
Your Pal, Sarah
Wished I had a Peggy in my life. I have some wonderful neighbors, but why don’t neighbors stop and linger any more? We are all always in a hurry now a days.
Your stories just make me smile. I’m so glad you have a blog now!!!!!
Hugs to you dear lady.
Laura in Illinois
My Peggy came in the form of a retired spinster school teacher – Miss Bessie. She taught me how to tat & make rag rugs while serving the most delicious home made sugar bread in the world. She was so patient with me from the young age of 5 until my teenaged years when she passed. I recall her story about how she fell in love and was engaged to a gentleman who went off to fight in WWI – he didn’t make it back. Her heart was broken but she said she’d love him until she died – and she’d take his picture out and show me how handsome he was….. tears then…..tears now. Thanks for sharing your story!!
Hugs to you, Connie
I am with Sarah Powell, I want to be your neighbor too!! I will just live on the other side!! Tee Hee!! 🙂 Your blogs are such a delight and bring such joy to me every day. I enjoy your books and often pile them around me and pour over each one!! Thank you Susan for just being “you”. You always give me that “Susan State-ofMind” and I adore you for that!! You are a peach!! God Bless, Tricia
I have a green handled rolling pin; I have a glass jar containing my flour (with a silver lid and a hand written label). But I don’t have a Peggy next door. What nice memories. Thanks for the sharing of sweet sentiments.
Of course another wonderful blog post, This one made me cry. Peggy sounds like a woman who lived next door to me growing up. How I loved her. Your blog is the best, its all warm and cozy and makes me want to be your neighbor.
I can’t wait to try the Peggy Pie. You are blessed to have lived next door to her and have those wonderful memories.
Have a wonderful day today, its so beautiful out. Of course if the mosquitoes would find another person to chomp on it would be the perfect day:)
Oh, Susan! Your Peggy story was magical- thanks for the “warm fuzzy” feeling!
Susan Dearest! I just loved the photo of the light in the window! Doesn’t it just pull on your your heart strings to come home? I too was blessed with a Peggy, (her name is Esther), the precious wife of an evangelist – so crazy in love with him that she ran (!) down the aisle when they were married. She would have us young girls over for homemade Monkey Bread and her mother’s special Chocolate Pie. I keep meaning to write to her and tell her how much her example meant and still means to me, and I have tried to carry on in her shoes (hard ones to fill). Thank you for lighting a little candle under me to follow through on letting her know how special she (and You) and all the other Peggy’s of this world are.
After reading your tribute to Peggy, I feel so at peace…so mellow. My Mamma was a Peggy to a lot of people…I’ve always said she was an Angel upon this Earth. How I miss her. Bless Peggy’s of the world!
Thank you for sharing this precious story of Peggy. My mother was a Peggy. She touched everyone’s life and made it special. She had the most comforting, special aura. People were always drawn to her. I really enjoyed reading your post today- it made me stop and remember…
What a great way to end the day! Monday was a Monday! Hope to someday find a Peggy.
You blog is beautiful! I love the picture of the homes with the picket fence! Awesome! Hey, I even like the font you use for comments:)) Your story makes me think of many ladies I knew back home in PA who took the time to reach out to me. To be a Peggy:))
Thank you for sharing your Peggy for those of us who never had, but always wanted a Peggy. What a gem, and I’m sure she’s looking down on you from Heaven with a smile.
Your blog is a place of serenity for me to escape the work world. Thanks for the beauty!
Another bit of heaven. Thank you.
Susan, this is just the sweetest story! Thank you for sharing it with us. I have been a fan of yours many years now. I so enjoy your art and books – lemon linguine is always a hit at my art retreats.
Hey Sweet Sue…Thanks for Sharing Your Peggy with Us… Sweet Potato Peggy Pie…I Can Smell all Her Warm & Kind Yumminess! xoxo Poof!♫♥
Pure joy! Thanks Susan…
I’m so excited, Susan, that you have a blog. I love ALL of your books, they are so adorable. And now, I get to come here for some homemaking fun, too? Happy happy happy.
What a sweet, sweet story about Peggy. I really enjoyed it. Not only does it bring back precious memories but it also makes me thankful for the present relationships that I have with my neighbors. We don’t have the white picket fence here, but that’s okay. We still sit and visit every time any of us our outdoors. I love country living!
Oh!!! I forgot to say… Welcome to Blogland!! It is a fun and addictive way to meet new friends! =] Enjoy your time here!
Thanks for sharing! You’ve inspired me! I want to BE Peggy now… Just moved into a new home and will make opportunities to spread that kind of “over the fence” friendship and kindness!
Your Peggy story brings back memories of my grandma. She lived in an old craftsman house with a big garden on the side. She was ‘puffy’ and hugable too. She made the best fried chicken (in a cast iron skillet of course!) and mayonaise cake. Such great memories – thanks for bringing that back.
Oh I just love this Peggy Story – thank you for sharing. My grandmother from a little town called Cumberland in Iowa was small, soft and round and always baking. It made me miss her. She had snow white hair and occasionally would get it dyed pink or blue (back in the 50’s and 60’s). She had a house full of antiques and I have some of them now. She also loved her flower/vegetable gardens. Your story reminded me of my childhood in the 50’s and you have a wonderful way of reminding me of the way it was and should be. Makes me want to go back to Cumberland, pull up the earth and cover myself in love and memories.
The warmth one feels after reading your blog and also your blogers messages is so comforting. I now have you to read and learn from each and every day on my home page. Peggy must have been a wonderful person and you, in turn, must have enriched her life as well. Your story of Peggy teaches us many lessons and the best ones come straight from the heart.
Love to you and yours,
I’m sorry, Susan but I do not know how to cut and paste. My comment is up above where I wrote it. I’ll have to work on that cutting and pasting. Please forgive a new blogger. Hope that you have a wonderful day.
I just bought the Susan Branch Note Card Tin and I love it!!!!!!!