Mamie has told me several times that she’d like to have a community “victory garden.” Pastor Lynda told me that a new family moved to Coker Creek, so I invited them to come to the garden with me. I told her they could have whatever we picked. It wasn’t unselfish because we had enough squash and beans already put up, and I figured it was a good way to meet our new neighbors.
The whole family showed up; so I ended up with another, quite unexpected, Granny Camp experience. One of the children is autistic, and he was the best picker of all. Whatever we were picking, he’d zero in on like a laser light. They returned to their new home with several kinds of squash, tomatoes and beans. For good measure, I threw in some banana and black walnut muffins, made with the black walnuts lovingly harvested and cleaned by Richard. It was a joy sharing our garden with the new folks in town.
Donna and I are hoping to help start a community canning kitchen over at the Smoky Mountain Christian Camp and Adoption Ranch. There are always kids there, as the adoptive families live on the grounds of the camp. I told Mamie that if we can get it going, we’d sit her in a chair, and she could tell us what to do. It seems that seventy-five years of cooking and canning would qualify her to teach. She agreed that she would be good at that.
She did wonder what we would have to can this late in a relatively bad growing season. There are still grapes to harvest; the pears didn’t freeze this year; and apples will be ripe shortly. Jams, jellies, chutneys, ciders, and maybe even some wine will all be created in Coker Creek.
Mamie’s son Junior used to go through town telling people when his pear trees started to drop their pears. We could get all the fruit we wanted, free for the picking. Now that Junior is gone, I figured I’d better make some provisions for pears before the fall harvest. I approached Junior’s wife, Greta, with the proposition that I’d be happy to clean up the pear mess on her lawn as an act of service to her. She really didn’t fall for my bull, but she said I could have the pears.
Merrisue overheard this exchange; her comments reminded me that Merrisue and Ron help Sam with pressing cider every fall. She agreed to let me help. Not only will I be able to make all the pear butter and chutney I want, I’ll also learn about pressing apple cider.
We may not have an official folk school here, but the Appalachian Mountain ways are alive and well in Coker Creek. Not only will the people teach you their crafts; they’ll also “let” you help them with the work. People pay good money to attend Foxfire and John C. Campbell Folk schools, and we have it all for the asking.