The Legend of the Sauerkraut

My mother told me numerous times after I finished a long excited tale about my gardening…”you were born into the wrong century-the wrong generation”.

Mom and her siblings were raised in the Great Depression…on a farm…in Minnesota. I heard the tales of milking the cows and feeding the chickens and dresses made from flour sacks. I saw the remains of the farming as my grandfather still had a huge potato field and a rusty, but working tractor. Grandma kept a fine garden and there was a smoke house down the back sidewalk between the garden, garage and the cherry tree and raspberry bushes. The garden grew lettuce and cabbages and cauliflower and strawberries, long rows and rows of strawberries.  Long gone were the cows and chickens. Long gone, too was the copper still in the basement, but that is for another story. I would gladly have lent a hand. Mother reminded me that visiting once every few years was different than living on the farm. That was why they were called “chores”.

As we grew up, I knew my mother to plant only 2 things: gigantic blue Morning Glories if there was a place for them to climb, and a sweet potato vine or two on the kitchen window sill. Both grew well without much attention or effort. Aside from that, she felt why spend all your effort on growing something that is easily acquired from the store right down the street. She said she hoped I did not drive my neighborhood Albertsons out of business. It did go bankrupt and she had a somewhat smug, knowing look years later when it happened.

I thought of her as Romeo and I grated and chopped seventeen pounds of red and green cabbage to make sauerkraut…surely she is smiling-perhaps even laughing, at us from her easy chair beside God. Perhaps, when the plate used to cover the kraut became wedged in the croc tighter  than the back of a wet bathing suit damp with sand, she shook her head in amazement-while we struggled and pondered for several days how to dislodge said plate without breaking it and ruining my nifty project. I sent prayers up for a solution and wonder if they flew right on past her and landed in my grandparent’s ether or an earlier generation than even her. On day three of our deliberations, Romeo fashioned a solution with vice-grips and metal rings bent like fishhooks and jammed in the nearly invisible space between the side of the crock and the offending plate. With all his might he tugged, I prayed with all my might “please move the plate and save the Kraut and the crock-borrowed from a friend who expected, I felt certain, to have it returned in one piece.

Eureka! Thank you, God.  Prayers were answered. The plate moved upward and the kraut continues to ferment as I type from the other room.

So many things make me miss my mother. I miss being able to call her and tell her this story. Somehow, I know she knows and think she laughed out loud.

That warm feeling that filled my heart made me smile.

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