Authors: Jerry S. Eicher
Tags: #Christian Fiction, #Amish, #Christian, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #Religious, #Love Stories
“Good morning, roses,” she said. “Are you happy this morning? It looks like there might be rain later for you. That’s better than my water, isn’t it?”
The roses swayed gently in the soft breeze and she laughed. Flowers couldn’t talk back, of course, but it sure would be
to have someone in the house soon who could. A little
perhaps a boy, who could coo as well as cry. He would be Jake’s boy, and a part of Jake would have come into the world to carry on his name. Or perhaps the child would be a little girl, a cute little girl, because Jake could only have cute little girls. Either way, the
would come to bless them with sweetness and love.
“I hope you don’t die from too much attention,” she said to the roses with one last backward glance.
Going into the cabin through the kitchen door, Hannah laid her recipe book out on the table. It was time for serious planning for Mr. Brunson’s special night. He had done so much for them and deserved the best.
Flipping through the pages, her mom’s recipe for underground ham caught her attention. Would that be the thing to make for Mr. Brunson? It tasted
but might it be a little fancy? Perhaps he was expecting something more Amish. More simple. Even something like mashed potatoes, gravy, and chicken.
Mr. Brunson would like the basics. With a smile, Hannah closed the book. The gravy and fried chicken could be made without recipes. Yet there needed to be more or Mr. Brunson might think she’d simply slapped something together.
There was the cherry pie of course, but something even more was needed. Hannah thought for a long moment and then found the tab for salads in her recipe book. Opening the page, her eye caught the recipe for a seven-layer salad.
that was the very thing. This would add a touch of fancy, and then perhaps homemade ice cream for dessert. Mr. Brunson would be so impressed his eyes would sparkle with joy.
Hannah laughed at the thought. Homemade ice cream would be just the thing and would go perfectly with the cherry pie. When he came for supper, Mr. Brunson would have something to eat that fully expressed Jake’s and her gratitude.
Walking into the living room to the hickory desk, Hannah came back with a pen and paper and sat down at the table. Looking over the recipes, she began her grocery shopping list. There was no way she had all these items in the house. Carefully she wrote down a bag of potatoes and cream cheese to add a little extra taste to the mashed potatoes. There was enough flour and seasoning in the house for gravy, but no cherry pie filling. This summer she really would have to can cherries instead of relying on store-bought. Betty said there was an orchard north of Libby that sold cherries for a reasonable price.
Scribbling on the list, Hannah added the vegetables for the seven-layer salad, extra lettuce, and buttermilk for her chicken batter. Two bags of chicken should be enough—if she remembered correctly the bag sizes the grocery store carried. Now, did she have enough bacon for the green beans?
Stepping outside through the kitchen door, Hannah walked to the springhouse above the presently budding garden. The long rows of corn had sprouted last week already, holding their green shoots skyward this morning, apparently eager for the rain that now threatened over the mountains. One long row was devoted to tomatoes and beside it, the potatoes. Shorter rows went for green beans, carrots, and lettuce. Now that Miriam was coming, she could help with the weeding and harvesting.
Opening the springhouse door, Hannah stepped inside the cool darkness. The spring waters bubbled out of the ground here, and Jake had built the shack over the spot. Shelves lined the walls, with an open, graveled pit for vegetables and potatoes. Hannah squinted, finding a single package of bacon on the lower shelf.
So it had been
that she checked. She also would need ice to make the ice cream…or should she cheat and bring back store-bought ice cream? It would keep in a plastic bag lowered into the cool water.
…it must be homemade. Mr. Brunson deserved the best. So she needed cream. They really needed a cow. Perhaps someday when Jake could put up a larger fence since the two horses didn’t fully use the present pasture. But that could all come after the
Carefully Hannah closed the springhouse door and walked back across the lawn. Back inside the cabin, Hannah finished her list and retrieved her billfold and checkbook from above the cabinet and her bonnet and shawl from the utility room. Out in the barn she pushed open the door with both hands. Mosey wandered over at the sound, and she quickly snapped the tie rope on his halter. “That a boy,” she said, rubbing his neck. “You’re a nice horse, aren’t you?”
He whinnied and bobbed his head.
Leading him out of the stall, Hannah threw the harness over his back in two big heaves. Laughing, she tightened the chest straps while he turned his neck and head to look at her.
“I’m going to make them good and tight,” she said. “I don’t want things coming off while I’m driving alone.”
He turned his head back, and Hannah jerked on the strap, bringing it up another notch.
“There,” she said. “That’s good enough. Now we’re ready for the bridle.”
Mosey opened his mouth without any resistance as she slid in the bit, tightening the throatlatch. He could be a pain, clamping his teeth shut if he was in a bad mood.
“You’re in good spirits this morning,” she said. “Which is
because I’m bringing back an awful lot of groceries.”
Hannah pulled on the reins, and Mosey followed her out to the buggy, swinging under the shafts by himself when she held them up.
“Good boy,” she said. “That’s the way to act. Now hold still while I fasten things.”
Slipping the tugs on, and walking completely around him one last time, Hannah threw the lines through the open storm front. Placing her hand on his bridle, she held Mosey for a few seconds before making a dash for the buggy steps. He didn’t move until she was inside and picked up the lines.
Driving to the main road, Hannah pulled Mosey to a complete stop, checking for traffic both ways before she let out the lines. Mosey quickly settled into a steady pace, eating up the miles, as she allowed the peace of the drive to settle over her.
cars slowed down, pulling out before they zoomed past her, but she paid them no mind. Everyone seemed to drive faster around here than back East, but there had never been any Amish buggy accidents in the small community yet, so maybe the
people here in Montana were more careful.
At the edge of Libby, she tightened up on the reins. The grocery store parking lot only had a few cars near the building, and Hannah pulled up to the nearest light pole, climbing down to tie Mosey securely to the metal pipe. Walking toward the grocery store, her eye caught a large advertisement posted on the glass doors. Such posters were common on the grocery store doors, but this one brought her to a complete halt. A large picture of a tent was plastered over the pane with words in black above it:
Old-Fashioned Tent Revival. Everyone welcome.
Hannah caught her breath and stared for a long moment. The Mennonites really were coming to Libby.
Hannah rushed about the kitchen stirring up the last of the ice cream ingredients. Jake had come home early with the ice wrapped with blankets in the back of the buggy. He was outside now setting up the hand freezer on the walk.
“I’m ready,” Jake hollered, his voice carrying faintly through the log walls.
There was no use shouting back; her voice wouldn’t carry. Opening the kitchen door she stepped around the corner of the cabin.
“It’s almost ready,” she said. “I just have to stir in the cream.”
“The ice is melting,” Jake said, leaning against the rail fence, two bags of ice at his feet.
“I’ll be right back,” she said, turning back inside.
Carefully she measured the cream, poured it in, and stirred slowly until the mixture turned an even color. Mr. Brunson must have the best homemade ice cream possible, and it all started with preparing the base correctly.
“That should do it,” Hannah said, giving one last stir before tossing in handfuls of pecans. Butter pecan ice cream was a little risky, a last-minute decision at the grocery store, but she could do this. Her mom had made butter pecan ice cream many times—but then she wasn’t her mom. Still, Mr. Brunson was worth the chance.
Emptying the bowl into the metal ice cream canister, she wiped the edges clean and replaced the lid. Carrying the canister with both hands, she opened the kitchen door with her foot and squeezed through.
“You should’ve called for help,” Jake said when she came around the corner.
“I know,” she said, gasping. “This thing is slipping out of my hands.”
“Then I’ll take it,” he said, running over and grabbing the bottom. With a flourish he carried the canister forward, lowering it into the wooden outer shell of the ice cream maker.
“Make sure the crank’s on tight before you add any ice,” Hannah said, watching Jake struggle with the alignment. He grunted and started over by latching in the crank on one side, lowering it down and turning the canister with the other hand until it snapped into place.
“There,” he said. “I think that’s it. Now for the ice and salt.”
“I can help you turn the crank for awhile.”
“Not with all your work in the kitchen,” Jake said. “I can manage.”
“I have some time, and the chicken is still in the oven.”
“But you don’t have to. I’ve made ice cream by myself before.”
“I want to help,” she said, tilting her head. “I want to be with you. You don’t come home early that often anymore. This is a real treat for me.”
“I hope it turns out to be a real treat for Mr. Brunson,” Jake said. “It sure is a lot of work you’ve gone to.”
“He’s worth it. We owe Mr. Brunson a lot for what he did for us with the furniture shop.”
I sure couldn’t have done it without him,” Jake said, pouring the ice around the canister.
“Just think how this ice cream will taste when it’s done. It seems like years since we’ve made homemade ice cream.”
“We haven’t made any since last year,” Jake said, sprinkling on a thin stream of rock salt. “I do miss it a lot.”
“Some things are like that. You forget how much you like them if you don’t do it once in awhile.”
“Like kissing you,” he said, touching her cheek with his finger.
“Oh, you do that often enough!” she said. “Now keep your salty hands off me.”
He laughed softly, kissing the back of her hair where her
Hannah giggled and took the ice cream handle, motioning with her other hand, “We have to get some work done around here. You hold down the freezer, and I’ll take the first turn.”
“This is going to be
” he said, pressing down on the crank with both hands.
“Oh, it will be,” she said, spinning the handle until she was breathless.
“You don’t have to turn so fast. It won’t get done any quicker.”
“I know that. It’s just for fun, that’s all,” she said, slowing down.
Jake stretched his back and, motioning up the gravel lane with his beard, said, “Mr. Brunson is coming. Let me take my turn.”
“Afraid he’ll see the woman doing all the work?”
” he said. “Now quick before he sees you.”
Hannah laughed and stood up, “He wouldn’t care. I know he wouldn’t.”
“There’s no sense in taking chances,” he said, grabbing the handle and twirling it rapidly.
Hannah held down the ice cream freezer as Mr. Brunson pulled in and parked by the barn.
“Well, well, what have we here?” he asked getting out of his truck. “The Mr. and the Mrs. making homemade ice cream?”
“Butter pecan at that,” Jake said, pausing in his twirling. “I was taking my first turn.”
“Then let me take my turn,” Mr. Brunson said. “Since I will no doubt be eating a large portion of this.”
“Just leave plenty for me too!” Jake said with a laugh.
“Good evening, Hannah,” Mr. Brunson said.
“Good evening,” Hannah said. “I’m so glad you could come.”
“I think I’m the one who will be glad,” Mr. Brunson said, rubbing his stomach. “I still have pleasant memories from my last visit.”
“We’ll need to have you down more often,” Jake said. “I’m glad Hannah thought of inviting you.”
“Leave it to a woman’s touch,” Mr. Brunson said. “I had a wonderful wife myself once. But we will not go there tonight on such a joyous occasion as supper at the Byler house. I sure hope you didn’t work yourself too hard, Hannah.”
“I didn’t at all,” Hannah said. “And you have been such a help to Jake with his furniture business, we can never properly repay you.”
“Oh, but Jake already has,” Mr. Brunson said. “He has made me quite a lot of money, so you shouldn’t feel bad at all.”
“Then supper will be for our friendship’s sake,” Hannah said.