When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved to Washington and bought a house, she found herself the proud owner of a walnut tree and an apple tree. Her husband, Travis is the only one who really likes walnuts, but they all like apples. I think most people do. When the apples ripened, they picked them…lots of them. Then came the decision about what to make with them. For Amy, it was really a non-decision, because she knew she wanted to make Apple Butter…mostly because it reminded her of her great grandma, Vina Hein.
Every summer of Amy and her sister, Corrie Petersen’s childhood, Bob and I took them to visit their Grandma and Grandpa Hein. It was there that the girls first tasted Apple Butter. Since that time, Amy thought of Grandma Hein every time she ate Apple Butter. Corrie doesn’t like apples, so I guess Apple Butter is nothing special to her, but Amy…like the rest of us does, and Apple Butter is a very special. Having it remind us of Grandma Hein is icing on the cake. It’s a memory treat because she comes to mind when we eat it.
Going to visit Grandma and Grandpa Hein was more than just real cream, cows milk, and Apple Butter, though. The time we spent with them was precious. They were such an important part of our lives and we loved visiting them. We played cards, and the kids played with the toys grandma had, but it was still more than that. Grandma told us about her childhood, and showed us pictures of the family. It gave us a sense of belonging. We did belong, of course, but we found out how we belonged. Our visits were so much fun and the girls got to know their grandparents, and that was the most important thing, after all. There were other family members there too, and the girls got to know them too, but there was just something special about being able to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa.
Her style of cooking was very much ranch style. They butchered their own beef, and Grandma made all kinds of beef sausage that was used for sandwiches. They canned fruit, and the fruit with real cream was the dessert. Eggs from their chickens and toast with Apple Butter, were staples for breakfast…and plenty of coffee with real cream, which has ruined regular cream from the store for me. But the biggest memory for Amy, was the Apple Butter, so to be able to make it at home now is the best memory treat there could ever be.
My mom had relatives who lived in Cascade, Idaho, and I remember going up there for visits as a child. The area is beautiful, and their home were practically right up in the mountains. The trees were pine trees, and the air was fragrant and cool, even in the summertime. We had a wonderful time every time we visited. It was almost like camping out, even though we weren’t. These were my mom’s aunts and uncles, her mother’s family, and they were wonderful people.
There were enough people in our family that it was not possible for us to stay at the same house, so we split up, which was fun in itself. I got to feel like I was at summer camp…sort of. I always stayed at Uncle Austin and Aunt Abby’s house, and they had this cool little day bed at the top of the stairs that I got to sleep in. It was a little scary at first, when the lights were turned out, but I got used to it, and then it was fine. I will never forget that bed. It was so strange to have a bed at the top of a stairway.
I’m not sure where everyone else slept, but I do know that Cheryl got to stay at Aunt Ada’s house. I wish I could tell you more about how things were over there, but I don’t remember. Chery and I were talking about this the other night, and she reminded me of the apple butter my aunt made. I do remember that, now that she reminds me of it. It was wonderful…in fact, as I recall, all the food was wonderful. There is just something about eating your food in a mountain area, that made everything taste better. Cheryl reminded me about the Apple Butter…oh yes, it was the best I have ever tasted. In fact, I think it was the first Apple Butter I had ever tasted. I suppose that is why it was so good.
In fact, just about everything about being up there in Cascade, Idaho was great. The small town in the mountains that was so big in my past that I can still see it in my imagination. The cousins, and the fun, the food, and so much more. Just a very special time.