Gran's Apple Butter Blog

August 16, 2010

2/IV Hill of Beans

Filed under: Books,Going Home,Gran,Grandma — Mary Batson - FrontPorchRambles @ 5:58 pm

Chapter 2.  Gran
Excerpt from Going Home, by Mary Batson

Thanks to Gran’s colorful character and even more colorful storytelling, she was well-known around the community. Everyone knew her as Gran. No one left her house without a quilt top or at the very least a jar of apple butter and a piece of fried chicken or green tomato fresh from her well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Gran reckoned she’d pieced at least one quilt top a week since she was about eight – more as she got older and her knees got weaker. Bearing in mind that she lived to the ripe old age of 92 (at which point she could still cut a rug with a jig-from-the-knees-down), she must have worked her way through an awful lot of thimbles.

And of course, every Sunday Gran went to church. You know, the little white clapboard one down on the corner with the bell tower. She’d gone there for decades – the better part of a century by the time she said goodbye. She’d put on her good dress and hat and pack up her picnic basket for Sunday-Go-To-Meetin’ Time, All Day Singin’ and Dinner-on-the-Ground.

In that world Gran was famous for her blackberry pie. Come Sunday afternoon, anyone looking for Gran could find her seated in the middle of an over-sized red-checkered tablecloth spread among the acorns under her favorite tree in the church yard, surrounded by grown-ups and children alike. When one pie pan emptied, another would mysteriously appear, to the delight and pie-smudged faces of all.

Everyone would eat, and Gran would talk. She always was a talker. But she could be an equally good listener. Some of my best conversations with Gran ended without her saying a word – just looking at me with love in her eyes and occasionally reaching out to touch my shoulder or wrap me in a shawl-scented hug.

After the pie was gone and everyone had walked home, come Monday afternoon, it would all begin again. You see, Gran had gained the reputation for being something of a miracle worker. No, not that kind of miracle. Gran did her miracles with words. This was no small skill, and served her well throughout her life, as many came to view her as the best mediator in Newton County. No matter the problem, if you truly wanted to resolve it in a way that was highest good for all involved, you could bring it to Gran’s front porch (office hours: 1-4 PM Monday-Friday and all day Saturday, tea served every hour on the hour.)

By the time you left hours later, all liquored up on iced tea, rhubarb pie, and coffee with just a touch of Mr. Smith’s Cure-All Cognac (boiled ‘til the alcohol was gone, she’d reassure anyone who seemed concerned), you’d have found your answer. You see, Gran never gave out answers. People would ask, that’s true, but Gran said she probably didn’t know the answer, and even if she did, until a person found her own answer, inside herself, the words wouldn’t ring true, and consequently, wouldn’t be worth a hill of beans. So that’s what Gran did. She grew her own beans, and ate ‘em up regular. If you were inclined, she might share a few gardening tips, but overall she kept her beans to herself.

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010. All rights reserved.
Download Chapter 1 or order your copy at!


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