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Stories from the Farm

Peach Jam for Reverend Nash

Nobody in Glenfield ever made peach jam.  Our thrifty, Yankee heritage dictated that we "put by" the food that we raised in our gardens or that grew wild in the fields.   However, when Reverend Nash came to Glenfield from Georgia, my mother decided that he needed something special to remind him of home.  So each year, my father would pick up two cases of peaches from the "Farmers' Exchange," and Mother would make a peach jam that made the locals wish they had come from the South.

During the week, Reverend Nash was a soft-spoken, well-mannered Southern boy.  On Sundays however, he could yell and work himself into a sweat that soaked through his clothes, especially if he was preaching about Hell.  We attended the First Baptist Church, where we were quiet, reserved and very conscious of the clock.  How a Southern Baptist preacher ended up in Glenfield remains a mystery.  My mother speculated that the men on the church board had only voted for Rev. Nash because his wife was a Southern Belle.  I didn't exactly know what that meant, but since we were the only church in town without a bell, I could understand the logic.  Despite his fierce fire and brimstone preaching, everyone in town liked him, at least for six days each week.
 
Phyllis Harris, the local telephone operator had once overheard the minister use a bad word in a private phone conversation, and for two full years, when Reverend and Mrs. Nash had Sunday dinner at our house, my mother refused to put out the best china. On this particular Sunday, however, it was obvious that she had forgiven him because the dining room table was set with the best china and my grandmother's lace cloth.  My mother had glazed a pork roast with peach jam, and I could hardly wait to taste the peach cobbler and whipped cream for dessert.  My father, however, would prove to be the undoing of an otherwise perfect dinner.

As we sat down to eat, my father apologized for the lateness of the meal, citing with a wink, that the long-winded preacher had held the congregation well past noon again this week.  I glanced at my mother.  Clearly, that had been, "strike one."  Later in the meal, when the conversation turned to the morning's sermon about Hell, my father claimed that by the time the service was over, he felt that he had personally been to Hell and back, himself.  "Ouch" that was definitely "strike two."  While we ate the peach cobbler, Reverend Nash told us about winning the peach-eating and pit-spitting contest at a county fair.  Apparently, he still held some record for spitting a pit clear into the next county.  Not wanting to be outdone, my father relayed a story from his youth, when he had stood on a front porch in Penobscot County, peed across the driveway and soaked the soil in Aroostook.  Mother glared at him as though he were a heathen about to be saved by force.  "Strike three," and he was out!  I knew right then and there, that it would be at least two years, if not more, before my father would eat another meal served on my mother's best china.
 
Reverend Nash stayed in Glenfield for ten years.  On the first Christmas after he had returned to the South, my mother sent him a couple jars of blueberry jam, made with wild Maine blueberries.  "He needs something special to remind him of home," she said.  That was when I realized that "home" isn't always the place that you are from.  Home is wherever your heart is happy and where people love you and miss you when you are gone.

For me, home will always be an old farm in rural Maine, just a little west of Glenfield.



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