The smell of cinnamon Snickerdoodles, fudge icing, and dried rose petals transports me back to my Grandma and Grandpa’s farmhouse. It was always exciting to travel to Idaho in July to see relatives. It was a long drive and took most of the day. Driving northwest to Idaho, and then a turn west to Burley passing large potato fields to the smaller little town of Oakley, and then from Oakley turning east through town towards the sagebrush hills of the Basin. The last leg of the trip winding back and forth on a two lane road several miles dipped into a valley. The tall five foot blue green sagebrush smelling so strong you could tell you were getting closer to grandma and grandpa's house. Finally turning right onto a gravel dirt road up a hill, the tall slender sentinel cottonwood trees lined the irrigation ditch, and the sound of the gurgling water, and the smell of alfalfa and cows, launched our excitement. Grandma and grandpa's house looked huge as a little girl because it sat on top of a hill on a raised basement foundation.
The creaking screen door opened up to an entry way for boots and coats, with stairs going down to the basement, and narrow stairs going up to the top floor. The smell of warm food from the kitchen, and musky smell from the farm boots and coats greeted us. Climbing the narrow stairs up to the kitchen there was a red and white Hereford steer sitting on top of the refrigerator. The squeaking of the linoleum as we walked across the kitchen past the breakfast table to the dining room. A large dark pedestal table and buffet sat on a large floral low pile carpet.
The living room to the left had a matching set of chair and couch with scratchy looped mauve upholstery with flecks of silver . Pictures of pink flamingos hung on the wall and mirrors with metal lace frames. Opening the front door outside looked out over the large fields sloping to the north, and to the east the shallow pond in front of the corrals, and the barns up on the rise by the road.
Grandma had beautiful peonies and all kinds of flowers and large lilac bushes in her yard. There was an old outhouse in the back. In the middle of the night I would visit the smelly rustic outhouse with magazines in a stack. Grandma and grandpa's house was always an adventure.
We would climb the apple trees and eat green apples in July. We would catch wild kittens and wrap them up in towels and blankets hoping that they would become tame, but they never did. We would walk by the shallow pond up to the cow barn that was thick with manure. The little one legged stools hung on the wall, I'm not sure how they sat and balanced on one leg to milk the cows.The front milk room attached to the loading dock held great big metal 10 gallon cans with a cream separator on the counter.
Grandma's best desserts where her big beautiful cream cake with thick fudge frosting, covered on top with chopped walnuts. Her beautiful white divinity had perfect little peaks, and the big soft two handed snickerdoodle cookies covered in cinnamon and sugar with big cracks on top were a favorite.
We would sleep downstairs in the cold cement floor basement on an old metal frame bed, under great big thick quilts that were so heavy I couldn't move or rollover. Across from the bed was an old white round ring washer that had two rollers to squeeze out the water. I was always worried if I touched it my arm would get stuck in it. There was a big coal furnace that clanked very loud and roared billowing sounding. We would go into Grandma’s fruit room with beautiful bottled peaches, cherries, raspberry jam, tomatoes, and green beans to the ceiling. The smell of earthy potatoes from the garden rose from the corner of the room. The basement had a mystical feeling with dark paintings, musty books, old dolls with shiny painted faces with real curly hair, and eyes that open and shut when rocked back and forth. We would go through the house and discover what our mother read, and played with as a child.
Grandma and grandpa's bedroom was one of the prettiest places in the house with lovely quilts, lace curtains, crochet table tops, and satin pillows. The smell wafted fragrantly of rose petals. The bathroom north off of the kitchen was warm and light with linoleum floors, pink rose soap, lotion, and rose print towels.
The men and children would head to the barns. Dad and grandpa would chase down and saddle the horses. We would ride sometimes, but we would play out in the barns much of the time, looking at the calves and chickens. We would sweep out an old burnt chicken coop to make a playhouse, it wasn't much taller than I was in grade school, and it seemed just the right size for children. The story was that it caught on fire and burnt grandpa badly.
One time I was riding with Keith loping across the alfalfa field and dropped the reins. Grandma must have seen us out the window. We scared her as when we got back she scolded us, and we had to get off the horse. My mom and dad were really happy to be on the farm and we all had lots of fun. All the family would get together and have a big dinner, and the children would play on the grass and do cartwheels, and somersaults. All the relatives would meet at the Oakley Park to watch the parade, and in the evening for the rodeo on the weekend of July 24th. Grandma and grandpa and would give us a big silver dollar to spend.
Our favorite treat was homemade vanilla ice cream. Everyone would get a turn cranking the handle of the old wooden ice cream maker bucket. Dad and grandpa cracked the ice in a burlap bag small enough to fit all around the silver container, and sprinkling rock salt in between the layers of ice. It seemed like a very long time for the ice cream to freeze, but when it was done grandma would pull out the long center blades laden with frozen vanilla cream and put it on a big platter. The frosty treat was sliding off the blades as the rich soft cream melted fast in the summer heat. We would all grab a spoon and have a taste; it was the very best ice cream ever.