You see in NM I was the city cousin who didn't know anything about ranching and taking care of animals. In TN I was the country cousin who didn't know anything about how to participate in a proper tea or cotillion. Funny how perception is skewed by where you're from, in the eyes of others.
I always saw myself as slightly out of place, but at that age, I don't think I really cared. I ran as a wild child at both locations. Always the fun of being away from home and having adventures. I saw things on the ranch that have led me to be a much more animal loving human. I also saw things on the ranch that have given me a sense of pride in my heritage and culture. I saw things on the river that made me want to be nicer to folks (remember this was the 50's in the south) and take a different look at how I treated others. I also saw things on the river that makes me long to be back there as an adult. The slow beauty of the time spent fishing, watching the wildlife. I long for those toe swishing the water and daydreaming times.
But that was the summer and we're talking the winter holidays now. I never did see TN in the winter. We never went back to my Aunt's house during winter. But we did go to Las Vegas most Christmases. Either before or after the day depending on the snow fall. Back then it was not an easy trip to my grandparents house. We would travel and have to stop along the way sometimes for hours. That was back when Route 66 was how you would travel to get from ABQ to Las Vegas, NM.
this is very much like my grandparents home
On more than one occasion we got stuck in a snow storm and when we finally did get there, the warmth of the big Victorian house was so welcoming. All the windows would be iced over. Not from decorating but from the cold and the wooden windows not being very efficient. The glow of the house will forever be a wonderful childhood memory for me.
The best part was the mud porch because that's where my Aunt Katie had a huge bowl of snow cream kept. My Pepe was crazy for snow cream. And everyone loved to make him happy. Or as I found out later on, it was wise to keep my Pape happy.
At any rate, as soon as we had had our Christmas dinner of tamales, carne asada, roast pig, a huge salad of every veggie in the world and tortillas, we had the tray of sweets to pick from empanadas, biscochitos, mexican wedding cookies and flan. Aunt Katie, Mame and my aunts cooked for days and they kept most everything on the mud porch because it was cold out there. And they had a huge blue salt bowl (that's the finish) with this snow cream just waiting for the very end of the meal. My Pape would act very surprised and happy when they brought the bowl in and showed him. He would portion out the sweet, rich vanilla flavored, egg laden, fresh cream infused snow cream like it was from the heavens above.
I remember being 6 when I finally got to have a taste of his heaven cream. It was as good as he pronounced it to be. I suppose it was because it was made special by the mystery of it that it tasted so good. How could anyone take regular snow and make something so very special?
Through the years, my Mother tried to make snow cream. It was good but seemed to be lacking something. I think it was the fresh cream. You know the kind that comes off of the top of the milk bucket after you've spent all the time milking the cow. Or possibly the fresh eggs. Or maybe it was the blue salt bowl that kept the magic in the mixture. But more than anything I always believed it was the snow itself that made it taste so wonderful. You know the just right, fluffy, promise filled snows of times gone by.
Whatever the magic, it still holds onto a part of my heart and will forever be a part of my memories of childhood winter bliss.