Island Senior: “Grandma’s Garden” Remembering Belle Mullis

Posted September 30, 2019 at 8:13 am by

Island Senior is a reg­u­lar col­umn on the San Juan Update writ­ten by Peg­gy Sue McRae…

Grandma's Garden - Peggy Sue McRae fiber art

Recent­ly my sis­ter Bet­ty unearthed a piece of applique needle­work that I made in the 80s called “Grandma’s Gar­den”. It was my fan­ci­ful depic­tion of our grand­moth­er Belle Mullis work­ing in her garden. 

As kids grow­ing up in the Seat­tle of the 50s and 60s we were accus­tomed to, if not appre­cia­tive of, find­ing canned peas, canned string beans, or fla­vor­less wood­en like store bought car­rots on our din­ner plates… yuck.

I still remem­ber dis­cov­er­ing “real” car­rots for the first time. Here on the island for the sum­mer, my grand­ma taught me how to thin car­rots. That was when I dis­cov­ered the sweet fla­vor­ful taste of a car­rot pulled right out of the earth. A lit­tle hairy and I’m sure they had a healthy amount of dirt still cling­ing to them, but to me, it was the dis­cov­ery of a whole new veg­etable, and mir­a­cle of mir­a­cles, I liked it!

Much more than car­rots came out of her gar­den. There were greens, Swiss chard, pota­toes, berries and rhubarb.  I won­der now how much sug­ar went into my grandmother’s rhubarb sauce but it sure was good spooned over vanil­la ice cream. She made berry cob­blers and rhubarb crisps. Her home­made bread was deli­cious even though my Dad joked about how thin she could slice it.

Belle Mullis in Her Garden - Peggy Sue McRae photo

She was thrifty and resource­ful mak­ing braid­ed rugs out of old stock­ings or strips of scrap wool. She made us a beau­ti­ful (if wicked­ly sharp) Christ­mas star out of a #10 tin can flat­tened out and cut into strips that were then art­ful­ly twist­ed.  She made my sis­ters and I each but­ton bracelets by attach­ing but­tons onto cro­cheted elas­tic thread. Boy do I wish I still had one of those!  I must have been about 10 years old when I took this snap­shot of my Grand­ma Belle in her garden.

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  1. Thanks Peg­gy Sue

    Comment by Cindy Mullis on September 30, 2019 at 9:07 am
  2. So sweet! I remem­ber her eggs- she’d give them to my Dad. Lat­er she was at the Con­va­les­cent Cen­ter when I worked there. 🙂

    Comment by Margaret Bell on September 30, 2019 at 9:25 am
  3. Won­der­ful mem­o­ries. Reminds me a bit of what I grow in my lit­tle gar­den and how it gets processed. THanks.

    Comment by Sandy Strehlou on September 30, 2019 at 9:44 am

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