On week-ends, the boys worked in the garden, getting it ready for spring planting.
They had completed the paddock for the horses. I had to see it. They said I needed to approve it. They wanted a tiller to work the ground so it could be seeded with grass. I called Dad, and he said he and Mom would be over this week-end.
I came home from school and on the table was a bowl of small apples. I picked one, smelled it. I’m not sure, but I remember that smell from somewhere. When the door opened, the boys came in and saw me smelling the apple. “How do you like those apples?”
“Where did you get them?”
“There are several apple trees behind the barn. You have to walk toward that old fence. When we were building the paddock, we saw the trees.”
“I knew there was an apple tree there. My grandfather and I walked there often.” I needed to take a walk back there. I bit into the apple, and it was a little sour. “These are a little sour?”
“That’s because the trees need to be pruned. With pruning, the apples will be larger and sweeter.”
I didn’t know if that was true or not. “Saturday, we can check that area out.” I needed to check the family records and see if there’s any mention of fruit trees,my reading assignment this week. I wonder if Mom knew about any fruit trees on the property.
Charlie arrived. Before I had a chance to show him his room, the boys had him in the garage showing him the cars. Walking into the garage, the boys were showing him the Olds. Seeing me, “Tony, this is Charlie. Charlie, this is the owner of these cars and that carriage, Tony.”
Shaking hands, “It’s nice to meet you, Charlie. Brad and Tom said you could get these vehicles operating.”
“I’ve worked on some old farm equipment. The Olds might take a little while, but the Chevy won’t be a problem. Brad said, you have ridden in that car, so it can’t be in that bad shape.”
“Yes, it belonged to my grandfather. When he was alive, he took me for a lot of rides in it. I want to use it and return the rental I’m now using. I was tempted to start it but was afraid to damage it. It’s been sitting here for a few years.”
“Then that shouldn’t be a problem. The Olds will be more of a challenge. I’ll do my best.”
“When you are done, the boys can bring you into the house, I’ll show you your room, and we can have a coffee. If you’re hungry, I can fix you something to eat. Just let the boys know. Tom, Brad, you might want to give Charlie a tour. I’ll be in the study. Let me know when you are in the house.” I left them alone.
I was in the study working on lesson plans when Brad came in. “Tony, we have shown Charlie around. Any chances of getting something to eat?”
I looked at my watch, and it was five-thirty. I lost track of time. “Sorry, Brad, I lost track of time. Sure, let’s go and see what we can make for dinner.”
I went and brought up four jars of the broth I made from the bones. I made kitchen soup, essentially cleaning out the fridge plus several cans of beans. Brad made a salad. Any vegetables he didn’t use were cut and added to the soup. He was going to add the lettuce when I stopped him. “That we can use for sandwiches.”
After dinner, I showed Charlie his room. The boys came along. Saturday, Mom and Dad came over. Dad brought his tiller when the boys saw that, the three of them headed out to the barn.
Mom came into the kitchen, and she saw the bowl of apples. Laughing, “You found the apple tree.”
“No, the boys did. They were working on a paddock for the horses.”
“Besides that apple tree, there’s a plum and pear tree next to that apple tree. It would help if you took a walk back there. If I remember correctly, there was a small stream back there as well. How much of the place have you checked out?”
“Not enough. I knew about the barn and the fruit trees, but that was it. Pa never went back there, at least when I was here.”
“I remember the apples, but the pears were very small, the plums were okay. I think Pa tried to can them with his grappa. He said berries were the best.”
“Are they good to eat?”
“Yes, your Uncle Vic and I would pick them. Nonna didn’t can them, so a lot of them ended up rotting on the ground.”
“I’ll make that a priority this coming week-end.”
“Good so far. The boys are in my class, so they get a lot of home tutoring. They have a friend here who is working on the cars. I’ll introduce you and Dad at dinner.”
“Your Uncle Angelo said you’re making sausage and salami.”
“Yes, in fact, this week-end I’m going to start filling the casing. You want to help?”
“Only if you share.” We laughed as we headed to the basement.
Mom did something I never saw her do. She took a small piece of the mixture for salami and tasted it; nodded her head in approval. I fed the grinder, and she tied off the casing as they were filled. It didn’t take us long to make the salami. When we were finished, I had 13 salami. Mom took three, and I hung the rest in the wine cellar.
“I’ll come over tomorrow for lunch, and I’ll help you with the sausage.”
I smiled and wondered how many she was going to take. I didn’t have any problem with that. I would have given her half if she asked.
Dad and the boys came into the kitchen. Dad had a rooster. “I’m going to run home, but I’ll be back for dinner.” I laughed. Mom gave him the salami to take as well. Brad went with him. While they were gone, I told Tom about the fruit trees. He headed off in that direction. I took Mom to the garage to introduce her to Charlie. As we neared the garage, you could hear a car running.
I had a smile on my face, “Charlie got Pa’s car running.”
Sure enough, as we entered the garage, Charlie had a big smile on his face. “Charlie, this is my mother, Mom, this is Charlie, a friend of the boys. You got the Chevy running?”
“Yes, your grandfather must have taken good care of this car. I cleaned the spark plugs, flushed out the old oil, put in new oil, flushed the radiator, and filled the gas tank. I’ll grease the bearings, and she’ll be ready to drive.”
I ran my hand over the hood of the car. I felt Pa as I did that. Mom saw my smile. She took her handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed my eyes. “I’m not crying?”
“Your eyes were wet.”
They were “Tears of joy.” They laughed.
“Charlie, you don’t know how much this car means to me, and now I can drive it.”
“Tony, I’ll work on the Olds, but I can only stay one more week. If I can’t get it running before I leave, I’ll come back in late November early December to work on it.”
“That will be fine, Charlie. You got the Chevy running. That is the most important for me.”
“Tony, if we are going to eat, we need to start now.” For me, that meant homemade pasta.