My Celtic Connections
My Irish Grandmother, Anna Mae Hammond Gresham, lived in a lovely cottage adjoining the city limits of my hometown. My Grandfather, Garland Alvin Gresham, died when my Mother was young, but my Grandmother continued to live in the little cottage with her four children.
There was a lovely old picket fence, with matching gate in front of her house. Opening that gate was surely an entrance to Ireland. The flowers in her doorway were profuse, leaving only narrow brick trails between the flower beds, one for entering the house, one to the right and one to the left which led into the side yards. During the Spring, Summer, and Autumn, there was always a riot of color and of wonderful scents.
The yard space to the North of the house was the same, with only a trail between beautiful beds of colors and scents. My favorite plant, nestled among the flowers and against the fence was a wonderful pomegranate bush. When the pomegranates were ripe, who would have wanted (or needed) to go into the house for a drink of cool, fresh, well water? The sweet, cool nectar of the pomegranate drew me like a hummingbird to a flower.
The left side yard had many more beautiful shrubs and flowers. My favorite was a very fragant flowering shrub which my Grandmother referred to as a Cape Jasmine. The space to the South of the house was mostly used for work and play. There was a large wooden storage building with a slanted roof of cedar shingles. During harvest, that roof was covered with yards and yards of muslim fabric, with apples, peaches, plums, and other wonderful fruits, drying in the sun. There was a section for chopping wood, and a workbench with places to attach tools for repairing horse tack, horseshoes, and sharpening work tools. There was a section for games, such as croquet for the young people, and a court where the men could play horseshoes or washers.
The back yard was mostly grass, but contained enough space for a small orchard and many more plants and shrubs. There was a horse and cow barn tucked to the rear, and behind the barn were fields of red clover. Next to the animal barn, there was a smokehouse for hanging and smoking hams and bacon. A trail from those buildings led to a corral a few yards away, which then continued across a winding lane to access the pasture. Near this trail, attached to the corral, was a small barn for milking two or three cows.
My Grandmother’s kitchen was to the rear on the South side. Her kitchen was always filled with the sights and scents of Irish cooking – of course, being a child, my favorites were the breads and desserts. There was an old pie safe, never empty, and never off limits. Behind the kitchen was a huge walk-in pantry. There were the usual staples of sugar and flour, but also there were rows and rows of freshly canned vegetables from her vegetable garden, including fig preserves from the huge fig tree beside the house.
Behind the pantry was a very large back porch, with a well for drawing water. Running water was added later, but the well remained in use. Just to the right, under the well porch, was the spring cellar. It was fed by a very cool spring and my Mother said that when she was a young girl, that cellar was used to store milk, butter, eggs, and any other items which needed to be kept cool.
My Grandmother’s home was always a warm and friendly place. Anyone was welcome to share her great Irish cooking, the laughter, (or the tears), with no notice required.
These are just a few of the wonderful memories from the Lovely Spring and Summer Days of my Life!
My Grandfather, Garland Alvin Gresham
Other Celtic Ancestors of this Direct Line are Golden, Johnston, Jones, Wilkinson
Norman Ancestors of Ireland, Kentucky, and Arkansas