Who We Are

The past few years, the area where I live, Crawford County, Ohio, has seen a wonderful explosion of younger families who are embracing the joys and challenges of living off the land. Because of them, amazing things are happening which have been embraced by our community. Farmer’s markets have been created and on-farm stores have opened. Families dedicated to growing organic produce and naturally raised meats are meeting the public’s needs for locally raised foods. And at the heart of this movement are the women.

Ohio Country Journal is my attempt to share the essence of farm life, focusing on, but not limited to, women. My goal is to bring you into our circle of friendship by inviting you to share your stories and experiences with us. You don’t have to be a full time country woman to benefit from joining us; you just have to be you.

The full-time country women featured in Ohio Country Journal are an inspiration to anyone who dares to follow her dreams, whether it is to live in the country or to bring the country life-style to their urban neighborhoods.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Grandma's Flower Garden

One of the things that I found interesting about Jim's family when I met them was that they have been farming Crawford County for generations. He lived on the same farm as his mother's folks and not far from the farm where his father was raised. He had aunts, uncles, and cousins galore that he saw often.

I also have aunts, uncles, and cousins galore, but only one family that moved to Ohio with us from Virginia. Instead of seeing extended family weekly, I only saw mine a few times a year.

But that does not mean that our family traditions did not run deep, or that they were not passed down to our generation. In fact, I believe that it is several of these traditions that held us together.

My mom's mother, Myrtle, was an avid sewer and crocheter, but she is most remembered for her quilts. My sister, Debbie, sent me an email pondering just how many quilts grandma made. We have no idea, but the amount is staggering, considering that she hand quilted each one after months of cutting out shapes from fabric scraps and piecing them together on her sewing machine to make the quilt tops.

Grandma moved to Ohio in the late 1970's to be nearer my mom and "us kids". She taught Debbie to make a quilt top. In this picture, taken by mom and sent to me from Debbie, our great aunt Alla, Debbie, and grandma are working on Debbie's quilt in mom's basement.

The quilt design is "Grandmother's Flower Garden", which was a huge undertaking for a first project because of the difficulty in getting the pieces to fit together. But that is how grandma was, nothing daunted her. My first sewing lesson from her, at age 12, was an empire waisted dress that zipped up the back and had fitted long sleeves with plackets at the wrist that were trimmed with lace and buttoned shut (meaning buttonholes were also involved). No 'just sewing square patches or making a simple apron for your first project' for grandma...she got right into the nitty-gritty, and we loved her for it because we ended up with such wonderful projects. These huge projects taught us that making things is a process and that it takes patience and time to accomplish them.

In this picture, grandma is the one with the big smile. I am not sure why Alla and Debbie look so solemn, but I think maybe mom caught them by surprise and took their picture  just as they broke their concentration and did not realize that their picture was being taken. This says a lot about grandma, who always seemed to be smiling and was happiest when she was sewing or making something, and especially when she was with her family because we had lived so far apart for such a long time.

The fancy dress is long gone (probably living a second life somewhere in one of grandma's quilts), but grandma's quilts are still around, comforting two genrations of people; her great grandkids and great-great grandkids, after the quilts were first crafted by a loving woman. It is almost like Debbie's quilt is made of everlasting flowers, isn't it?

Winter is a good time for remembrance. What family traditions do you remember?

Marcheta *loving those winter flowers

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