When summers meant trips to Grandma's

My sister's post about summers with grandmas got me to thinking about our trips we took to our grandma's house each summer, and I just wanted to share all the sweet memories I remember, too.
So here's a dose of nostalgia, of summer after summer in a rural town in northern Indiana called North Judson.

Each new morning on our visits brought smells of blueberry pancakes wafting through the house.

And Grandpa, without fail, would be in the kitchen drinking his morning coffee and listening to the police scanner before heading out for his morning drive into town.
A glance out the kitchen window and we'd see everything from deer in the fields, birds in the birdbath, and other little critters nibbling at the scraps my Grandma put out.

The days brought endless possibilities.
We would run around playing outside in our bare feet against our Grandma's wishes, and realize she was right as she was picking cactus prickles out of our feet with tweezers.

We would ride bikes down the country roads without a car coming for miles.


 We would play school and house in the basement, where there was never a short supply of National Geographics and Ball jars.

We never said no to a game of Uno, Go Fish, or Sequence.
And no matter how many times we played Borderline U.S.A., I would always get a little mixed up when it came to the New England states.

 I remember walking just down the road to pick raspberries.
And driving just a little ways to get the most delicious blueberries from the local blueberry farm.

And we learned that sometimes the best way to get a taste mint is just to pull off the road and pick a leaf from a mint field and just chew it.

During harvesting season, you can smell those mint trucks a half a mile away.
And you know that if you drive into town and see that mint green stripe painted down the middle of the road, you're just in time for the mint festival, and are sure to have a good time.

Grandma taught us that the best strawberry jam, rye bread, and dill pickles were of the homemade variety.

And it was there that I first had a tuna melt; or as my grandpa liked to call it, Shit on a Shingle.

I remember that whenever we took car rides together, Grandpa would always put in a cassette tape, and reward us with a quarter if we could guess who the singer was.

We would go visit family in Judson and San Pierre, because there was no short supply of Eckerts around there.
Aunt Emma always had M&M's on the table, and would curse the ice cream truck for passing too quickly.
And Uncle Butch's garage always smelled like gasoline.
And after visiting Aunt Erna, we would go play at the park across the street from my grandma's church.

We would go with our cousins to Indiana Beach.
[Because there is more than corn in Indiana.]

Grandma would take us on the train to Chicago, where we did everything from visit Navy Pier, the aquarium, and Millennium Park, to hit up a baseball game.

We took countless trips to Bass Lake.

And Lake Michigan. Climbing up the dunes and rolling back down. Jumping in the waves, pretending they were as big as the ocean's because we didn't know anything else to compare it too.

And we were always armed with Subway sandwiches and those small, green glass bottles of Canada Dry.

Then on the way home, we would stop to get ice cream at The Point in town before heading back out to the farm.

 On gloomy days, we would turn to the attic, where there was never a shortage of treasures to look through, and most importantly, a collection of books we would sift through and take our favorites back downstairs to read.

 There was no cable, but mornings were passed with Dragon Tales on PBS, and movies at night.
That's where I was first introduced to Barbra Streisand, because Funny Girl was a favorite.

 And we would always end the night with homemade cookies or a dish of ice cream.
Then we would go to bed, and wake up the next morning to start all over.
In a small town where everybody knew everybody and their extended family, smiles and hellos were never scarce.
And although my grandparents sold the farm and moved to town,
and even though my grandpa is no longer with us,
every so often I will take the long way to my grandma's house through the back roads,
honking as I pass Fred and Kathy's,
and just getting another glance at the old farm house that fostered so many sweet summer memories.

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