With the constant anguish of collective life from covid, climate change, racism, and war, I call on the Great Mother to be with me and comfort me. This week, she appeared–not as a winged Goddess from Greece, Sumeria, Europe, or Egypt, but in a dream-like memory of my Grandma Edna, a Missouri farm woman who died in the 1970s.
When I was a child, Grandma baked bread, biscuits, and pies fit for the gods. When she wasn’t in the kitchen or garden, she wore her whale bone corset and pearls, played the piano and sang in a rich big voice. She demanded respect. My older brother was afraid of her and my mom kept her mother-in-law at a distance, but I loved Grandma’s ample body, big voice, and clear emotions. This sweltering week, I remember her love in the form of peach ice cream.
Grandpa hand milked their one cow and Grandma separated the cream. She picked, peeled, and chopped fresh ripe peaches dripping with sticky juice from her orchard. She mixed the peaches with sugar, a dash of vanilla, and heavy cream, giving me fragrant tastes as she mixed.
Grandma filled the quart-sized container in the middle of the wooden ice-cream churn with the fruity mix while Grandpa fetched ice from the ice house (pond ice harvested in winter and still hard and cold in mid summer). He surrounded the ice cream mixture with crushed ice, added rock salt, put on the lid, and cranked. Sometimes, my dad cranked, too. The whole family gathered outside in the shade of the old catalpa trees and drooled with anticipation
I felt safe in my Grandma’s rural Missouri home. Instead of plumbing and running water, there was a pump in the yard for water and a well-maintained outhouse. Grandma magically transformed when she played classical music and show tunes on her well-tuned piano in the parlor when the temperature cooled. She was a classically trained pianist and contralto who met my granddad in Chicago, but that’s another story.
For this last post of the summer and as a memory of the Great Mother’s gifts, I’ll stick with peach ice cream.
Do you have a personal image or two from your childhood of someone who felt like a positive Great Mother or Matriarch? The memory of homemade peach ice cream is all I need.
For other posts about Grandma Edna, see Safe in the Great Mother’s Bed. For another post about my early girlhood on my grandparent’s farm and my deep love for Grandpa, see How I Learned to Trust a Man.