The Best Strawberry Cobbler Ever
Strawberry Cobbler to Die For
From the time I was about seven years of age until I was a teenager, I spent most of my summers and as many weekends as my parents would allow me throughout the rest of the year, at my grandparents house.The overnight stays began when my oldest sister had appendicitis and daddy stopped by my second grade class and told me to ride the school bus home with my Aunt Laura and Uncle Eddie and that I would be staying for a few days while my sister recovered from her emergency appendectomy. Of course I was too young to know any thing about medical emergencies or surgery and the thoughts of being away from the safe haven of our house in the cotton mill village were somewhat troubling.
I suppose Aunt Laura did a good job of getting me on the bus for the ride to my grandparents. At the time the bus route was along the unpaved mountain road filled with curves and bumps which in and of itself was an experience to remember. My Uncle Eddie was just a year older than me so we were always pretty close buddies(he seemed more like a big brother than my uncle)and between the both of us our mischief kept me and him busy. He had chores each afternoon and I was big enough to help with some of them. I helped carry water from the spring and we filled the tank in grandmas's wood cook stove. We also did the milking and carrying in the wood used for cooking. Electricity had not yet come to Mount Olivet (1956) and I have never forgotten the lighting of the oil lamps and seeing my grandmother read from her Bible and quilt until it was time for us to go to bed.
As the years rolled by, like most children who were reared on the family farm, I was introduced to a garden hoe and we spent many an hour getting weeds out of the crops my grandpa and some of my older uncles grew on the rocky mountain soil on my grandparents farm. The fields had wind breaks between the crops being grown: corn, mountain cabbage, and pole beans that would be the main cash crops providing the yearly income for my grandpa. Sumac,locust and other small shrubs covered the spaces between the fields that seemed to have the longest rows to challenge our skills and patience. After breakfast and the morning chores we would get our hoes and walk to the fields planted in corn, pole beans, cabbage and sometimes the family garden where all those great tasting vegetables were grown that would soon fill bowls and plates.Yellow squash, okra, onions and green beans.
My favorite during those years as a boy growing up on the farm were the strawberry cobblers my grandma made. My uncle and I would be busily working in the morning hours with our hoes after grandpa or some other family member had plowed the middles with a cultivator. We would see my Aunt Laura and sometimes grandma coming with a big white ceramic coated wash pan. We knew then they would be picking the wild strawberries that grew in the wind breaks along the terraces between the crops that were growing and where we were working. These were the small berries that had already ripened and had an aroma that tempted us to drop our hoes to fill our hands and mouths with the sweet juicy berries. We knew a cobbler was in the offing and gave us one more reason to wish the morning away so we could get back to the farmhouse where a wonderful strawberry cobbler would be our dessert.
There is a natural slough that runs from the Mud Creek basin all the way to the top of Mount Olivet where grandpa's house was located and a view of the Pisgah Range can be seen on clear days. A breeze seemed to blow all the time coming up the hollows from Crab Creek passing through Buzzard Roost and what is now Blue Ridge Estates where the story of a Army deserter hid out from the law avoiding capture for being AWOL, at least that is what my uncle Eddie avowed one day on one of our excellent adventures roaming the hills and valleys! On those hot summer days, the breeze felt so good to us. Almost as an air conditioner and the sweat from our sun drenched backs that had already turned brown quickly dried. The quietude and absence of any man made noise provided for a tranquil existence and with only the sounds of Nature to entertain us, the work kept us out of trouble. The sounds of birds, crows, the crickets during the daylight hours and occasionally the passing of a commercial air liner temporarily captured our attention and made us realize there was a world off the mountain and created a wonder in our boyish imaginations. At night we listened to hear the first katydids, the frogs down at the creek played the tunes of the night that were lullaby's and induced a nocturnal rest for our tired bodies. Occasionally the sounds of Whip-poor-wills or a hoot owl chimed in adding to the wonderment of my boy fantasies and found their way into fond remembrance.
Those strawberry cobblers are a precious memory. We were always hungry by the time grandpa blew the fox horn to summons us to dinner. We didn't have a watch but my uncle convinced me if we could step on our heads in our shadow, it was high noon. Sometime we stretched as far as we could attempting to put our feet on our head but we knew we best not go to the house until we heard that fox horn sound from the front porch. When the sound was heard we shouldered up our hoes and headed for the house. In that natural trough the breeze carried all the wonderful smells of what awaited us around the dinner table.
Eat we did! Our tummies soon would be full but plenty of room remained as we dished out our strawberry cobbler. It became almost a religious experience and I would close my eyes savoring the flavor and sheer enjoyment of eating that strawberry cobbler. We had plenty of country butter to add to the cobbler which didn't really need anything more. Cold fresh cows milk only added to the taste. Soon we would find ourselves lying under the walnut trees gazing up into the sky at clouds and once in a while we might doze off for a nap. I still love my strawberry cobblers and at this time of year as the tame berries are in abundance in our area,maybe just maybe, a strawberry cobbler will soon adorn our dinner table.