Friday, May 30, 2008

Papaw Forsyth's Sweet Onions

Setting: Cochran Mill Road, Fairburn, GA
Time: 1960 something

I spent a lot of time at my MaMaw and PaPaw Forsyth's house. I loved it there. A lake, pasture land, creeks, an old barn, a country store within walking distance, who wouldn't love that? It was paradise for a little girl that lived in the "city".

We lived in Blair Village Apartments in Atlanta. There were very few places there that I could play outside. Traffic and other concerns my Mom had kept me indoors or very close to the apartment most of the time.

Not only did I love to go to MaMaw's house but my cousins did as well.

One summer, my cousin Donna and I had our own little play house carved out in the old barn, although MaMaw didn't like us playing in there too much, to dangerous she said. We had little chipped cups and saucers for dishes, old milk bottles and other discarded kitchen items, to play tea party with. We had our favorite doll's there for our babies, soft old hay for beds and old blankets to make our beds more comfortable.

PaPaw had a tiny little garden, he wasn't very strong due to back problems.  In his tiny garden there were a few tomato plants, maybe a cucumber or two, a squash plant and sweet onions. Donna and I helped PaPaw to plant the vegetables, most of the time we ruined more than we planted.

This particular year, PaPaw had the usual items planted when we got there. He'd put a fence of chicken wire around the tomato's so they could climb, little stakes marked the sweet onion bulbs and small mounds, or "hills" as PaPaw called them, of black soil marked the cucumbers and squash seed locations.

Donna and I stood looking at the tiny garden and thinking about all the good things to eat that would come from it. As we stood gazing at the marvelous sight, PaPaw came out and warned us about bothering the garden. In particular, he warned us not to touch the tiny sweet onions. Well, wave a red flag in front of a bull why don't you? Donna and I stared down at the Sweet Onions.....sweet he'd called them. That did it, from that minute on, we dreamed of how a sweet onion must taste. "Like candy?", Donna asked. "No, can't be, onions burn", I replied. "But PaPaw said they were sweet, sweet don't burn, and besides, I like sweet onions. I want some!" Donna had made up her mind that we were going to have sweet onions with our tea party and that was that. She reached over and grabbed a handful of the green tops and pulled! Out they popped, the tiny white bulbs with little thread like roots dangled temptingly in front of us. We ran for the well house to wash them off, our excitement grew as the warning PaPaw gave us faded from our memories.

As we were washing the sweet onions, Donna and I talked of how we'd "cook" them. We should cut them up and eat them with slices of bread or biscuits left over from breakfast was my suggestion. Donna wanted to simply eat them whole and have a tomato biscuit along with them. So it was decided that we'd eat them with a tomato biscuit and have cool water from the well for our "tea".

We ran to our playhouse in the barn and proceeded to have our tea party. Putting our babies to nap in their beds, we prepared the table for our feast. MaMaw had fixed us up a nice "lunch" to have for our tea and we sat down with our stolen onions to enjoy. And enjoy we did. Those biscuits with tomato and mayonnaise were heavenly, the water cool and thirst quenching. We didn't eat many of the onions. We found them not to our liking as they weren't sweet at all but sharp and hot.  We were just finishing up our feast when we heard MaMaw calling us to come to the house.

We ran to the house, laughing and planning our next tea party. Not knowing the fire storm waiting for us there.

PaPaw had found the empty spot in the garden where the onions had been. He was livid. First thing he said was, do ya'll know anything about my onions? Well, I knew we were done for. Donna right off the bat said, "No Papaw, we don't know nothin' about your onions." All innocent and light she was and believable.

PaPaw looked at me and I looked at the floor. "Well?" He asked me, "What do you know about my missing onions?" I continued to look at the floor, feeling like a louse. "PaPaw", I said, "I didn't take the onions." Which wasn't exactly a lie, I didn't exactly pull the onions, but I knew what had happened, I was there, I was guilty and he knew it.

PaPaw could tell when I'd done something wrong, he said he could "read me like a book". And he could. My PaPaw could take one look at me and ask what I'd been up too and I'd spill it all! Tell him evey thing I'd done wrong. He always would say, "Kat, you know better" and that would be it. He didn't have to take a switch to me, the look on his face would be plenty enough to have me in tears and saying I was sorry for what ever transgression I'd made.

So, when PaPaw looked at me looking at the floor he turned back to Donna and asked if she didn't want to change her story. Well, Donna wasn't giving up, she claimed a big dog got into the garden and took the onions, then she said maybe worms ate'em. PaPaw stood there looking at us, his mouth twitching, I thought we were dead. He was actually, I found out later, about to crack up laughing. Then, with a very angry look on his face he said to me, open your mouth and blow your breath out. I didn't, not quite understanding what was going on with that. Then he turned to Donna and said the same, she did, but she knew why he'd asked that. We knew then, we were caught. Evidently my onion breath was fairly low, hers however, was off the scale! Then PaPaw did the strangest thing. He told us to "git outside and play", but as we were heading out the door, he added, "don't go far, you got some work to do this afternoon."

Our work turned out to be weeding the garden, since we liked pulling up stuff as PaPaw said. Then we had to sweep the front porch, wash the dishes from supper and had to go to bed without watching any TV.

After our "punishment" was done, we lay in bed talking about our day. Donna would be going home the next afternoon so we had some planning to do. One thing we didn't plan to do was touch anything in the garden with out PaPaw's permission!

This brings to mind the Horse Apple Trees......................

1 comment:

  1. I'd been sick as a dog eating those things! I loved hearing about your PaPaw's garden. Made me think of our PaPaw's garden. My cousin Little Jeff, used to go out to the garden because he would always find marbles. We all thought PaPaw grew marbles in his garden! When "Little Jeff" died, I guess it was my grandma or my PaPaw, had a little bag of marbles from the garden. He worked out in his garden all day and we loved playing at my Grandma's! Can't wait to hear about the apple tree!