How about joining Julia, Austin and me on our one-mile walk to my parents house? Since we don’t have a pasture for the horses at our new home, I didn’t have a horse to take me there, so this left me with the option of taking a walk on this beautiful autumn day. The weather was perfect, with a gentle breeze flapping our dresses as the sun shone its soft rays on our little trio as we walked down the road in the quiet countryside.
It does take some extra time with two little ones, so I decided I’ll just relax and enjoy the walk with my two darlings. We hadn’t gone far when Julia began spotting wildflowers here and there beside the road and started picking them for me. Soon she and I were both gathering flowers and collecting as many different kinds as we could find. You may call some of them, such as dandelions, a weed, but this time they were all beautiful flowers, each adding their own and unique designs to the rapidly growing variety in my hand. It didn’t take 2-year-old Austin long to catch on. He spotted a brown crunched maple leaf on the road which he eagerly picked up and handed to me.
“Thank you, Austin!” I praised him, my heart swelling with joy. Surely God has blessed me with two little darlings.
By the time we had arrived at Dad and Mom’s driveway, we had gathered a variety of 16 flowers (or weeds, call them what you want), plus the crinkled maple leaf that had been given to me by a little heart full of love. Soon we arrived at Mom’s. After we gave her a bouquet of wildflowers, she asked if I had time to sit down for a cup of tea. Sure I would! How could I possibly resist a mug of Mom’s delicious peppermint tea? She sat across the table with her cup of coffee. Even my Mom is a coffee drinker. I am personally not a coffee drinker. Perhaps I never grew up enough to learn to enjoy the coffee flavor.
My sisters joined in as we chatted about various happenings over the past weekend. I told them how I had been sitting at a table full of people and they started laughing at an inside joke and how that kind of made me feel like a “fifth wheel.”
As I made that remark, my brother Jeriah, 21, walked into the kitchen looking for something to snack on (are all boys always hungry?). Overhearing the conversation, he turned to me and said “Gloria, that should make you feel good to be the fifth wheel. Didn’t you know the fifth wheel is actually the steering wheel?”
We ladies resumed our conversation and a few minutes later Julia was at my side with an important question:
“May I go squirrel hunting with Uncle Jeriah and cousin Japeth?” she asked with wide-eyed anticipation. After conversing with Jeriah about it, I gave her my consent. I smiled as she hopped up and down with delight. Uncle Jeriah is very special to her, especially so since all my other brothers are married.
Hunting was an important part of my growing-up years. Hunting produced our main source of meat for our family. My dad grew up the same way. His mother would prepare all kinds of wild game: squirrels, rabbits and deer, for example.
A short time later, our conversation was once more interrupted when the back door opened and there stood Japheth and Julia each holding up a squirrel for us to see. Their smiles just barely fit on their faces. They both wanted to save a squirrel tail as a keepsake. Thanks to Uncle Jeriah, who patiently skinned the squirrels and showed Julia and Japeth how he needs to cure the tails to keep them from rotting. Years ago, Dad had taught Jeriah how to cure tails and preserve other wildlife hides so that nothing from a hunt is wasted.
“I’ll take a squirrel home for supper,” I volunteered, knowing that Mom doesn’t really care for that kind of meat. I was tickled for the chance to serve squirrel meat to my family. I’ll probably cut it up into eight pieces, then cook it in a marinade-type sauce before draining and rolling into a breading of flour and seasonings such as onion salt, seasoning salt, paprika or whatever I get a notion to dump in. Then I’ll finally fry the pieces in oil or butter and enjoy.
My guess is that most of you are not interested in squirrel meat, or even have access to it. So I’ll share my sweet potato casserole recipe that I’ll be making along with the squirrel for supper. A friend shared this recipe with me a year ago. It’s the perfect casserole for me to be making with our bumper crop of sweet potatoes we got this fall. In fact, one that I plan to cut up for my casserole weighed 7 pounds! With Thanksgiving so close at hand, this would be a perfect way to serve sweet potatoes for your special meal!
Yoder’s Easy Sweet Potatoes
2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons flour
Blend together first four ingredients. Beat eggs, vanilla and flour together. Add to first mixture Pour into a greased 8-inch by 8-inch pan.
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix together, sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Gloria is Amish and lives in a rural horse and buggy settlement in Illinois. Readers with questions or comments can write to Gloria at P.O. Box 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.