Friday, September 15, 2017

SUMMER RITUAL: A Poem about My Maternal Grandfather

My maternal grandfather with (L to R) my Great Aunt Agnes, my Aunt Helen, and my maternal grandmother.




My mother and I arrive at my grandparents’ house
late one Sunday afternoon.
Babci greets us in the kitchen
with cold drinks clinking with ice cubes.
Dzidzi fetches a small wooden basket
from the cellar, takes my hand,
and walks me down the stone path to his garden.
He leans over a tomato plant,
holds a fat red globe in his cupped hand,
and looks at me. I nod approval.
I can almost taste the tomato’s warm, juicy flesh.
We choose a dozen more and place them in the basket.
We pick three green, glossy-skinned peppers,
pull up a bunch of feather-topped carrots,
enough beets for my mother to make a pot of zimny barszcz
thickened with sour cream and floating with cucumber slices.
Every visit to my grandparents’ house
is the same this season—
a small harvest of vegetables—
and when we leave, I take home
a little basket of Dzidzi’s garden.


September is my favorite month. I love the weather here in New England at this time of year. We still have warm days--usually without the summer humidity. Nights are cooler and comfortable for sleeping.

This month  brings to mind my Dzidzi--my maternal grandfather. He passed away in late September of 1984. It was the first real loss of a beloved family member that I suffered. It was traumatic for me.
Dzidzi with my father

Dzidzi was a Polish immigrant...a peasant from the Old Country. For many years, he worked at a leather factory in Peabody, Massachusetts, which is known as the Tanner City. He also worked in his garden behind his house. He grew many different kinds of vegetables--including onions, peppers, carrots, and beets. He cared for his fruit trees (apple, pear, and plum). His cherry tree was felled by a hurricane in the 1950s. He LOVED tending to his garden almost as much as he loved his family--and he loved sharing the food he grew in it.

Babci and Dzidzi with my older sister
My poem Summer Ritual is a remembrance of the times I'd visit my maternal grandparents in summer and early fall--and return home with a bounty of fresh-picked vegetables and fruit from Dzidzi's garden.


A few weeks ago, I posted a poem about my maternal grandmother titled CROCHETING.


Michelle has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Today's Little Ditty.



jama said...

Beautiful poem, Elaine. Loved learning more about your grandfather and his garden. What wonderful memories you have to draw from for your poems.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

This poem is like a harvest of love, Elaine. I so enjoyed hearing your memories and learning more about your family.

Anonymous said...

What Michelle said. :) #harvestoflove

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

That is lovely, Elaine. I love the names and the use of veggies. Food and family are often intertwined, in a kind of universal way.

Linda B said...

You've brought back my memories, too, Elaine, of grandparents' gardens. What a sweet memory of choosing the best vegies with your Dzidzi.

Kay said...

Beautiful memories captured in a beautiful poem. I felt like I was in the garden with you and your grandfather picking that basket of fresh vegetables.