Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grandmaw's Water Bucket

The below poem triggers memories of my Grandmaw Mary. It conjures up visions of the old spring that rested upon the hillside above her house. It was always a great honor to be asked my Grandmaw to fetch her a bucket of water. I know I always took great care to dip the bucket way down into the cool, clear spring to get the freshest and coolest water. I remember there'd always be a chance that you'd pick up a salamander in the spring so you'd have take special care to avoid that. With the greatest of care, I'd heft the full water bucket to my side and inch my way down the hill on the old footpath, worn smooth by the generations of feet who made this very same trek. In the springtime, I'd usually stop and smell the apple blossoms on the Yellow Delicious apple tree that grew by the footpath.

Grandmaw would always meet me at the back porch and take the water bucket from me. I know now that she most likely done this to keep me from slopping water on her kitchen floor, after all, how steady could I have been, I was only a little boy carrying a 2-gallon bucket full of water. After taking the bucket from me, she would heap praise upon me and give me a cookie or a piece of pie that she always managed to make appear as if out of thin air. She'd then sit the water bucket up on the water stand beneath her cabinet near the back door.

Grandmaw Mary in her kitchen.

She usually had two buckets and kept one full of fresh water, and used the other bucket of "dead" water to heat for washing dishes. Grandmaw said that once water set overnight, it became dead and people shouldn't drink it. I do know that fresh water tasted better. Grandmaw always kept cheesecloth over her water buckets to keep flying insects out of it, and she had a little metal dipper that you could dip down into the bucket and get out a drink. Nobody ever thought anything of it then, but nowadays people would think this unsanitary. You'd drink right out of the dipper, and toss the rest out the back door. You were never allowed to put the water you didn't drink back in the bucket, but you could dip a second dipper if you were still thirsty.

I remember a little shelf behind the water buckets. Grandmaw had two little teacups there, no doubt gifts from some of her children on one of their travels. Grandmaw typically didn't go anywhere, her extent of travel was limited to Franklin and the Bartow Flea Market. I was always fascinated by those teacups, one said "Paw, Come git yer coffee" and the other said "Maw, Come git yer coffee". On the Paw cup, it showed a hillbilly man sleeping outside on the door stoop, and on the Maw cup there was a mountain woman plowing a field and the man was standing in the door way hollering out at her in the field. I found a "Maw" cup in an antique shop right before Christmas and bought one for my mother. I need to get her a Paw cup now. They have them on Ebay, where I found the below picture.

It's amazing how a poem can trigger all of these precious memories of Grandmaw Mary, one memory triggers another, and so on. I could sit and talk about my Grandmaw Mary all day long.
The Old Oaken Bucket
by Samuel Wordsworth

How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollections present them to view !
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew;
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill which stood by it,
The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell;
The cot of my father, the dairy house nigh it,
And e'en the rude bucket which hung in the well;
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-cover'd bucket, which hung in the well.

That moss-cover'd vessel I hail as a treasure;
For often, at noon, when return'd from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that Nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing !
And quick to the white-pebbled bottom it fell;
Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well;
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-cover'd bucket arose from the well.

How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it,
As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips !
Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
Though fill'd with the nectar that Jupiter sips.
And now, far removed from the loved situation,
The tear of regret will intrusively swell,
As fancy reverts to my father's plantation,
And sighs for the bucket which hangs in the well;
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-cover'd bucket, which hangs in the well.


Jason Burns said...

I actually have that metal dipper in my stuff here at the house somewhere. Mom has the bucket - the bottom has rusted out of it, though. And it's now in the backyard - full of flowers.

Janet, said...

Oh what memories this post brings. I wish I had grandma's water bucket. She also kept it on a stand beside of the kitchen door. We all shared the same dipper, that water was so good. There's nothing better than cool well water. She got her water from a well outside the back door.

tipper said...

Matthew-loved the poem-but loved the memories of your Grandmother more.

Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Julia Simpson