To Ponder Photography

Diane Vetter, Photographer
St. Paul, Minnesota
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Grandma's Quilt
Grandma's Quilt


Grandma's Quilt

The light of day brings more to do. There are the family, the crops, and the animals, which all need attending to.

"You gotta eat a bik breakfast so you can get all de farm work done, ya!?"

I can hear her accent smiling and laughing, looking into my eyes with the excitement of love and happiness that you feel when you get to visit your grandma. Sometimes she'd clap my cheeks, and I could feel the love she has towards me. She always seems to be completely thrilled to have us there visiting her.

Grandma is usually up early cooking breakfast of keugen and coffee, usually some freshly scrambled eggs from her Indian River chickens. Sometimes she lets us bring their eggs home for our own good cooking and eating. But today we will bring them to market. I will help her collect them, and clean them, and package them, and carry them out to the truck from the summer kitchen in the basement, but she won't let me cook them and eat them today! Not today. Perhaps later we will go to the garden to pick some sweet succulent iridescent round green ground cherries with the paper wrappings. But not until after the morning chores are done which include feeding the pigs.

I am so terrified of those pigs, ever since that one sow chased my sister through the farm yard. The look of terror on her face was enough to scare me out of that field forever. This morning I will not think of those pigs.

This morning, as I stir about under the warm blankets, he nuzzles close to me reminding me to stay quiet. "If you just wrap your leg around to the left a bit, I can get under you without waking Jacob."

Our border collie loves to snuggle on the bottom of the bed. He would stay there through the morning prayers before he would wake and start his howling around for a left-over morning morsel. As if by now, he didn't know that what he was craving went out the door as slop for the cattle. His dish was in the kitchen, but the bedroom was always a warm morning nap before brunch.

This morning Dan wanted a little hot breakfast of his own before chores begin. The sweat of the chores is not in comparison to what he likes to sow before breakfast. This form of nutrient always gives me enough energy to get through my day. After the cock crows, it's time to get up!

Before I get up, however, my morning offerings are made by saying the rosary and thanking God for all the riches of the world I have in my life. I usually spend this quiet time of prayer while in the shower. Even though the quiet chatter of the family is all around me, I know that without all those helping hands, I would never be able to dance through the fields of gratitude while harvest begins.

As I prepare for my day on the farm with Grandma, there is much to remind me of where I come from. I remember the stories of how they left Germany during the war. After settling in what is now Ukraine, all my ancestors came over on boats and settled on similar land of flat fields to harvest grains and raise cows. My grandma Rose was six when she arrived in America. She knew no English then, and there was no time for proper schooling. The farm had to be attended to. She has been doing that ever since. She has picked up the English language to read and write and speak, yet her strong accent, which I adore, still prevails in her every word.

When we are not around, she and Grandpa speak their native tongue, but since we are there, they speak English.

"Da cows are headed to the sawt field. We gotta move dem now before dey break da fence."

"But, Dad, the boys are already in the field with Al. Who can do that?" My mom was talking to her father about how my brothers and dad were already out there working. "You know you won't let us girls near the cows."

"Today you will do dat, MaryAnn."

I heard my mother moan. I know that her weak back would never allow her to work that hard in the fields.

As I step out of the bathroom, I whisper an offer to help. "Hey, Mom! How 'bout if you feed the pigs, and I'll round up them cows for ya, K!?" The smile on my mom's face means Good idea, daughter! For sure that's how it will go.

We all know that if we do that and my grandfather finds out, the dinner table tonight will either be really loud with him not letting us hear the end of it, or it will be really quiet with fear of revealing anything at all.

While enjoying my morning coffee and supplementing my energy with Grandma's breakfast, I plan my day. To round up the cows, I'll wear one of my aunts' old bib overalls and boots which are down near the cellar door. I'll use Jacob to help steer the cows in the right direction. When I get back this afternoon, the shadows will be getting long. The berries and other vegetables from the garden will have already been picked, but they all know to leave the egg collecting for me. I better do that before I attend to the cows. By then the sun will be setting and supper will be on. Our aching muscles will subside, and we'll sit around the kitchen table talking about all that we have done. I will have to remember to watch what I say so Grandpa won't suspect that I helped my mom out. He'll probably find out anyway; he always does!

After supper is over, the dishes done, and the kitchen cleaned, while we're sitting around the table chatting, I know I will be sleepy, once again to be wrapped in the warmth of Grandma's quilt for another good night's sleep.




The sun is shining through
those squeaky clean windows.
Those windows so huge, so
many of them to clean. They
get dirty often since they stay
open most of the time. Mom
says it helps to pull the draft

When the huge windows are
open, and the draft is pulling
through those huge rooms,
those pretty crocheted curtains
turn to butterflies, when the
sun is shining through.

But who wants to stay inside
on such a nice day. To slip
and slide over that shiny
wooden floor is part of getting
outdoors, but leave not a
scratch on that shiny wooden
floor or you will not be
playing outside on such a nice

The huge windows are clean;
the shiny floor is not
scratched. It is ok to go out
and play on such a nice day.



Grandma's Quilt

The light of day
brings more to do.
The family, the crops, the animals

I stir then.
The warmth of His love
vital for the energy I need.

It's 6:20AM.
The aroma of hot black coffee
Red oaks chilly from the night air

Bath water running
Bacon sizzling
The cock crows

Morning offerings are made.
The quiet chatter
of helping hands
dance through fields of wheat.

Harvest begins.
The sweaty brows
strain for sight of the unfolding

It is noon.
The wagons roll through the hills
for there is still far to go

The cuts are made
with immigrants' strength
History is formed

The afternoon falls loose.
Storms move in
Ropes come undone

Father's concern is noticed.
Rage passes through.
Courage falters.

To get through it,
We come together.
The land holds firm.

Our stubborn faith
Teutonic cladding
the harnesses hold

The shadows are getting long now.
The sky is clearing
Promise of abundance to come

The sun is setting.
Virtues secured
Our aching muscles subside

It is time to rest.
Our future wrapped
in the warmth
of Grandma's quilt.


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