Wednesday, May 16, 2012


My first picture taken with my mother

I picked the first of my rhubarb on Saturday.  I think it was early this year due to the short, mild winter we had.  I cooked it up into sauce, set some aside for us and then took a container over to my neighbor John who really likes the stuff.   I was glad some of it was ready.  It was Mother's Day weekend and it brought back some special memories for me, especially of my mom.

I love rhubarb, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered a small patch of it after we moved into our little parsonage three summers ago.  It sits back behind the garage so it was several days before I even noticed it.  One day I decided to take a stroll around the yard and voila, there it was!  I could hardly wait for Larry to come home to share my find with him. 

Growing up, there was a row of rhubarb that popped through the soil every spring in the far corner of our back yard.  My parents purchased their home when I was five years old, and I don't ever remember a time when the rhubarb wasn't there.  I can't begin to imagine how much I must have eaten over the years, the desserts, the jam, the sauce served in little bowls still warm off the stove or as a topping over vanilla ice cream.  I never tired of it.

My mom loved her kitchen and could bake most anything , but of everything she concocted, her pies were the best.  Her crust was melt-in-the-mouth perfection which she would first roll out into a perfect circle and would then bake to a golden brown, the filling bubbling through the narrow slits she'd cut into the top.  They were all wonderful, the apple, the peach, the cherry, the blackberry.  She made a mincemeat in a ten-inch pie pan every Thanksgiving, with a light sprinkling of sugar over the top crust.  It was exquisite, I've never had better.  But of all the pies she made, my absolute favorite was the strawberry-rhubarb.

Frances Lea Marvin, my mom!

My first year away at school was especially lonely for me.  I was in South Carolina,  nine-hundred miles away from home and terribly homesick.  But someone who was traveling through from New York came to my room one day bearing gifts from my mother.  In the first container was a dress she had made, a green one to match my red hair.  And in the other container, much to my delight,  was a strawberry-rhubarb pie.  There would be more packages.  Each birthday she would send a new dress, every one of them green.  And if she knew of someone coming my way,  I'd get a hand-delivered strawberry-rhubarb pie.

My sister Dawn and brother Rex visiting me my junior year.  Take note of the green dress!

When Larry pastored in Pennsylvania, one of the members had some at her place and insisted we help ourselves to all we wanted.  And I did, making my share of rhubarb sauce and rhubarb crisp and rhubarb pie, just like my mom had.   And like her, I'd make sure to freeze some so it would be on hand during the winter months. But eventually we left the north land and headed to the far south where rhubarb refuses to grow.

I missed my rhubarb,  but occasionally one of the grocery stores would bring it in and I'd pay a ridiculous amount of money to buy enough for a couple of pies.  One time Larry flew home to see his ailing mother in New York.  He had a surprise for me when I picked him up at the airport a week later, a carry on full of rhubarb. 

Now back to this past Saturday.  Early that evening I decided to go see my octogenarian friend Rena and check out the seedlings she's been growing to put in her garden.  I  spent several minutes in her little greenhouse admiring the young plants and walking around her backyard to see where everything would eventually go.  Then suddenly she raised her hand and pointed to the far fence which bordered her property.  "Do you see what I have growing there?" she asked.   My mouth dropped open.  The entire length of the wall was nothing but rhubarb!  Then she pointed to the right of where we were standing and there was more yet.  I had never seen so much rhubarb growing in one place in my entire life!  "Do you like rhubarb?"  she wanted to know.

Some of Rena's rhubarb

The next morning I got up early and cut up what I had brought from Rena's house.  She had insisted I take some and to help myself anytime I'd like more.  So I made what I had into sauce, filling a couple more containers full.  I delivered them that afternoon after church.   I think my mom would have been pleased.  It was, after all, Mother's Day.


Pastor Larry said...

Wow! Once again I traveled in the time machine. Rhubarb does taste great with strawberrys! I remember all that I took back to Marcy. I also remember our friend Corey sent us some rhubarb plants that never survived the planting. Marcy gets excited with the sauce on vanilla ice-cream. For me ... keep to the pies! :)

Tracy McMichael said...

I enjoyed your post. As you may know, rhubarb was a staple at our home as well, used in many ways...I'm still waiting to acquire a taste for it though. Being mother's day this past weekend, I think of what I do know from Mrs. Marvin. Foundational, Godly truth that she was not afraid to speak. Wise words that have stayed with me from my teen years and beyond. It's comforting to know that we'll see our moms again. PS: Love the pic of you grasping onto Dawn, as if she'll bolt and Rex being his easy-going self :)

Eileen Ballantine Berry said...

Cannot relate to either rhubarb, or, pie-making: The only pie I've ever made was chocolate, or banana cream. My Mom made a pumpkin once, but forgot the crust! HAHA However, her applesauce cake was to die for! I don't think she's made one in a looong time!

My friend, Della makes a strawberry - rhubarb custardy (like that word?) kind of pie........... Mmmmm, it's 5:30 AM, and, now, I'm starving!

Fawn said...

I love reading what you write :) You should be a book author. Love you mama

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you sent this to me. What wonderful memories you are able to put in writing. I loved this story and I would love to have a piece of that pie someday. I love you...Barb