the house that built me

This is the “story behind the story” of my first piece with Eat Boutique – a farm-to-table, concord grape editorial. It’s a story that has roots and a process that I have been meaning to revisit for years.  I lost my remaining grandparent just over a year ago – my paternal Grandfather, in his late nineties.  Many of my childhood memories circle around my grandparents and their home…I think of them often and when I open that door, the snippets of a life gone by rush the memory gates.  Concord grapes grew on their property – and in the years when there was a good harvest, the bushel baskets came out of the basement, the grape picking commenced, and jelly and juice making followed.  I can picture the baskets still, the apron, the stained hands, the worn linoleum in their kitchen, and feel the comfort of home – all like a warm blanket.

In the spirit of my childhood, I headed out with my mother on an hour’s drive to a farm at the end of a tree-lined and winding New England country road. We spent an afternoon picking off the vines – humid air filled with the aroma of concord grape.  Harried jelly and juice making ensued.  Tired feet, bug bites, irritated voices, a sea of canning jars, stained everything, a steam-filled kitchen and then – a beautiful yield of jelly and juice, made by my very own hands.

The memory gates opened again, and all of this left me longing…longing for a time when simple homes and simple pleasures were a mainstay…when camping was the only summer vacation and collecting stickers reigned supreme…when you played outside until it was dark and Wednesdays were for beef stew…when you missed the bus, you walked, and when you wanted to ride, you mucked stalls to earn it even when the wheel barrel was bigger than you…when solid values came first and there was always a parent home after school…when Dads made all things safe and Moms made everything all right…when bread baked in the oven and jelly boiled on the stove…when Nanny & Grampy were just a short car ride away and the grapes still grew on the vine.

I know they say you can’t go home again,
I just had to come back one last time,
ma’am I know you don’t know me from adam,
but these handprints on the front steps are mine.

If I could just come in,
I swear I’ll leave,
won’t take nothing but a memory,
from the house that built me.

- Miranda Lambert

click *here* to visit the Eat Boutique post featuring “all things concord grape” + the recipes…

8 thoughts on “the house that built me”

  1. Tears welled up. That was so well written. I wish for those times again too and strive to bring a little of the good, simple life to my boys. It’s not easy these days.

  2. beautiful heidi. sweet memories that remain forever. so many reasons i gladly walk in the rain on a chilly day to get annie at school. it’s gone in a blink. cherish it forever as i know you do. xo

  3. Dearest Heidi – As always…..I LOVE your work (and your heart). You never cease to amaze me! What an honor to be remembered like that. Heart strings and memories……OMgosh. xoxo Mum

  4. “…..when Nanny & Grampy were just a short car ride away and the grapes still grew on the vine”
    Longing for these memories brings your life closer and closer to that which you experienced and, as you have so beautifully articulated, will give essence and substance to all that you do. Your writing says this to me. You are the gathering of all that was ripe in your life and now you are growing your own vine. And say what, your mom is still only a short car ride away.. !!! wow I like that! Thanks for this lovely piece of you.

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