Monday, June 04, 2012

Mint Jelly

Every night Grace pleads for a "Little Girl Story".  These are stories, simple little anecdotes from my childhood - some rosy, some not so rosy, and some so mundane that it blows my mind that she asks for them again and again.

This particular one had her begging for more, more detail, more information,  MORE STORY!
I call the story Mint Jelly - it goes a little something like this, with Grace's questions added:

When I was a little girl, I loved mint jelly, the kind you eat with lamb.

*We don't eat lamb, do we?*

No, it doesn't agree with me now that I am old, and I have no idea how to make it.  Anyhooo, I loved the green stuff, but Nanny had to hide it from me so I wouldn't sneak any when I wasn't supposed to.

*Where did she hide it?*

Oh, um, on a shelf.

*Was it a high shelf?*

Yes,  a very high shelf.

*Could you reach with a chair?*

Errrr, no.

*But maybe you could have with a high chair*

Yeah, a high chair would have been good.

*Or a ladder, Grandad's ladder*.

Yes, and it wasn't' just Grandad's ladder, it was Nanny and Grandad's.

*But mostly Grandad's, because he does all the hard chores around the house*.

No, no that's not right, Nanny does lots of hard chores too.

*Like what kind of chores does Nanny do that need a ladder?*

(omy efffing god) I don't know Grace, windows and stuff I guess.


Okay, so I decided one day to make my own mint jelly.


I'm getting to that. I grabbed a big old ice cream container...

*What kind of ice cream was it?*

Oh, I don't remember.  Probably vanilla or butterscotch ripple, those are the only flavours I remember Nanny ever buying....

*But now she buys fun flavours*.

Yes, now she buys fun flavours.  Anyhooo, I filled the container up with mint leaves, gelatin and water and stirred it...

*Wait.  Like Jello?  She let you have that? Did you have to ask?  Where did she keep it?*

Oh, ummm, no, it was gelatin that had no flavour.

*Huh?  Why would you have that?  Did Grandad like that flavour?  No flavour?  Did you get in trouble for just taking it?  You would never let me take something without asking*.

Ah, no, gelatin can be used in recipes....I think.  I don't use it myself.

*You should ask Nanny how to use it, she's a good cook*.

(Burrrrrn).  Yes, she is a good cook.  No I didn't ask - things were different then, I played by myself a lot and just sort of helped myself to stuff.


Yeah really lucky.  So I let the mixture sit in the sun for a few days and nothing happened.  I just got stinky and gross.

*What did it smell like?  Was it minty? Watery? What EXACTLY did it smell like?*

Errrr, (I was kind of intimidated by this line of questioning) it smelled like rotting mint (I don't actually remember this detail).  So I brought it to Grandad's potting shed.

*What's a potting shed?*

Oh, it was like a little house in our back yard.

*A house?  You had a house in your back yard?*

Well, it wasn't really like a house more like a little cottage.

*You were rich*.

No, we weren't rich.

*Well, you were richer than we are now, we don't have TWO houses like you did*.

It wasn't like that, it was just like a big shed.

*How many rooms?*

Well, two, with little tiny other rooms.

*You were totally rich*. was just this little odd house where Grandad kept his lawnmower and tools, and there were all these cool treasures in there, like neat antique-y things.  I could spend hours in that shed.  And I Ioved the smell, like gasoline and grass cuttings.  The best. (pause, waiting for another question, but she seemed to have accepted that we were not rich at this point).  So I brought the mint mixture in there for a few days and nothing happened, it just became more and more gross.  I finally decided to toss it when I realized my experiment had gone bad and would never be good enough to serve with Nanny's lamb dinners.  I marched it out to the creek and tossed it in there off the little bridge.

*What creek?  What bridge?*

Oh you know, that little creek that ran behind my back yard.  There was also this old half bridge, that only went halfway across the creek - the other half had broken off.

*You went there alone?*

Oh yeah, I spent hours poking along there, pretending to fish off the old bridge, racing leaves down the creek....tracking squirrels and chipmunks.

*But where were Nanny and Grandad?*

Oh, I dunno, in the house somewhere, or doing gardening, they didn't really keep track of us.  We kind of came and went  when we were kids.

*Weren't they scared something might happen to you*?

Nope, I really don't think they were.  And nothing ever did.

The story kind of faded from there, but Grace's line of questioning drew out such strong, vivid memories for me, and frankly in some ways it made me a little sad.  Sad because today she knows a million kinds of different ice cream flavours and isn't particularly excited by any of them (I practically birthed a cow when my mom brought home Tiger Tail one day).   She will never be allowed to play by the creek in the trails behind our house on her own, getting lost in her own little daydream world.  She would never dare poke around our cupboards rummaging for a snack because I prescribe everything for her.  Oh, and I'm a little sad for her because I will never be the cook that my mother is.

Sadness aside, those are some kick ass memories, and I thank my little girl for pulling them out of me.


Lynn said...

My middle daughter is really into this too - asking for stories from "when you were little." I am surprised at the things I have remembered while racking my brain to come up with something new. Lately I've been thinking I should write them down before I forget them again - and it might help her remember, too, the things I told her.

Loved the mint jelly story - you should buy some for your girls to taste!

alison said...

That's Rachel to a tee. She is constitutionally unable to let the narrative flow. She has to ask question after question. Your childhood sounds rather idyllic, really.

zoom said...

Great story. I love the way you captured the dialogue, and how she lined her childhood and yours up side by side and compared them!

sparklypear said...

I <3 reading your blog, Meanie! For Reals! One of my faves. That's all....just wanted to say it. :)

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