Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Memory of a Farmhouse

It was always cold on the second floor of the old farmhouse.

The only passive source of heat was through an iron register cut into the second story hallway connecting it to the large dining room below.




Transoms above the bedroom doors were supposed to help pull the warm air up, but it was a chilly proposition at best. The only augmentary heat on that floor was a space heater used to warm the bathroom on the morning before school.

In winter, baths were always hurried affairs...shivering little bodies rushing to get dressed and escape to warmth and sustenance down the steep flight of stairs. I told my children to think of themselves as pioneers...I don't think that idealization ever really worked with them.

On days when the temperatures weren't quite as frigid upstairs, the register was a great source of amusement and entertainment for my children.

Often you would see a string dangling down from the high ceiling with a rolled up note. Sometimes the notes said, "Can we have cookies?" and sometimes they were written in secret code and I received an irritated "Mo-ooomm!!! That wasn't for you!" for my nosiness.

Sometimes little ears would gather around the opening to eavesdrop on adult conversation.


And any time the children were playing upstairs and there was a knock at the porch door, you could be certain that three pairs of eyes would be peering through the metal of the register to see what was happening.

Twice each year the register would be a gathering place for three little tow heads trying to discern if Santa or the Easter Bunny had stopped yet.

It was during those years, that I would leave clues directly below the register...a trail of a few bright colored plastic eggs along with some leaves and grass from the yard...a bootprint or a sprig of pine to show that Santa had already visited.


On holiday mornings it was my custom to get up quite early to prepare a special breakfast to start the day. The house would be filled with contented quiet...the sound that only occurs when things feel right in our own private worlds.

Soon after breakfast preparations began, the quiet would be punctuated with excited whisper and giggles. I would stand at the bottom of the steep stairs going up and listen.

"Look, look! He was here!" More giggling and excited rustling around. "Do you think Mom is up? I smell something? I'm sure Mom is up! Let's go downstairs!"

I would quickly return to my little kitchen and continue preparations for our special meal.

In they would burst...voices rising in an excited crescendo of suprise! "Mom, Mom! He came! Did you see the grass on the floor? (or the muddy boot prints?) Are you mad he made a mess, Mom?"

The quiet of the expectant morning would be broken...unlikely to return for the rest of the day.

Treasures needed to be exclaimed over.

Children, tired and wired from too much excitement, needed to be calmed and quieted.

...

After the days events were over and the last story read and the last glass of water fetched...

The house would grow quiet and still...

And I would peak through the register before I went downstairs...

Another year.

Another memory.

Another page for the quietly lovely scrapbook of family memories I hold in my heart.


This little memory is written in honor of the letter "Q". Q is for Quiet.

To read other 'Q' offerings, just click here.




post signature

29 comments:

Simone said...

I live in a house with one of the heat registers. There is no warmth that comes from it although the noise is sometimes deafening from the kids below. I hope that one day, I will see the register the way you do, special memories tucked quietly inside.

Nezzy said...

You had a register??? You were lucky. Two massive rooms covered the top of our farmhouse and we had one wood stove in the livin' room.

Let me tell ya...not a whole lotta heat came up the stairs two rooms away from the wood stove.

I always enjoy your memories from the old Farmhouse.

God bless ya and have a relaxin' evenin' sweetie!!! :o)

It's All Connected said...

I have one register on my second story and it is in the hall. It has been upgraded to actually be connected to the furnace and that is a blessing on cold, winter nights. Loved this story! ~ Maureen

Leovi said...

Yes, these pretty delicious memories you share with us. Greetings.

Marnax said...

Awwwwwww. Such a nice read.

Ames said...

I love that you went to such lengths to make your children so happy. You're a good mommy! And those memories are the best!~Ames

Ms. A said...

I always enjoy your farmhouse memories!

anitamombanita said...

Ahhh. I love the image in my mind of faces pressed to the register searching for clues of Santa or the EB.

beckyp said...

we had one of those in our house growing up and we did the same thing your children did

The Quintessential Magpie said...

How absolutely delightful! Oh, how I have missed you, Jenny.

I'm so sorry I haven't been blogging. I've had computer issues and am on Mr. Magpie's work computer tonight. Don't know when I am going to have a chance to get a new one because I am up to my eyeballs in life stuff... Adelaide's husband had a triple bypass (unexpected), and another friend's husband is in the final days of pancreatic cancer. I have had no time to blog which I miss SO much.

I hope to be back by the end of spring. I miss you and all of my blogging buddies.

Take good care, my friend...

XO,

Sheila :-)

Cheryl D. said...

What happy memories! I can picture everything so perfectly! You did a beautiful job writing your farmhouse memory. It sounds like such a lovely way to live!

Pondside said...

I remember my son peering through the register from his bedroom down to the living room at my in-laws'. Christmas was a hoot!

Gattina said...

your Farmhouse memories make me melancholic !!

Maggie said...

Such a lovely nostalgic post, thanks for sharing more tales from the Farmhouse.

J. Kwiatkowski-Schuler said...

I love that quiet kitchen morning feeling. It's an absolute treasure, as is this little farmhouse remembrance.

Theresa said...

Our warmth was provided by a single gas heater:) We would stand in front of it to get warm in the mornings! My Daddy would put a pan of peanuts on top to parch:) Sweet memories! Hugs to you dear Jenny! Hope your new home is feeling like home:)

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

You could write a book of these, Matlock. They're as charming as they are heart-warming.

edenhills said...

What a beautiful chapter to your story.

Gail said...

What a beautiful memory.

Sue said...

"Another page for the quietly lovely scrapbook of family memories I hold in my heart."

And they ARE lovely, Jenny. Thanks so much for sharing them as you do.

=)

Robin Lynn said...

Ah Jenny, you've done it again. You know how to pull at the heartstrings in such marvelous ways ... especially for this Momma who had 3 flown out of the nest... those sweet innocent days went by far too fast but thank God for precious memories! and thank you for hosting your party and sharing a little of your self. Blessings and hugs!

H said...

I've never lived in a house with a register but peeping through and lowering notes sounds like heaven for a child.
My childhood home was totally unheated upstairs. On winter mornings, there would be a pattern of frost all over the inside of the window pane.

Jo said...

Beautifully written Jenny. I am enjoying this series ... I look forward to it each week. what wonderful memories!!!

Kara said...

I had a grate just like that in the house I raised my children in. It sure wasn't a very effective way to heat the place!

☆☆Mumsy said...

Love this story, Jenny! The iron register looked like a wonderful place for all sources of fun.

Andy said...

My sweet Jenny,
Vivid as always. You really do transport us back to this time. I can envision all the laughter & happiness...smell your lovely cooking...just magical memories. Thanks as always. See you next week!

A Quiet Evening

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I had to walk five miles to school each way in the snow. When the bridge was out it was ten miles. OK, not really. I was reading the other comments and felt pampered since we always had hot air heat with duct work and everything.

I enjoy your memories. I've always wanted to live in an old house and your old farm house sounds perfect to me.

Naperville Now said...

very dear, Jenny.

Melinda Cornish said...

My grandma always left little holiday hints for us too...one Christmas eve she even climbed on the roof and stomped and jingled bells. she is lucky she didnt break her neck....that roof was one huge steep pitch.....She is still my hero.