Huckleberry Hill and a few of my favorite things
In Huckleberry Hill, I have combined several of my favorite things into one book. I hope you will find the results delightful.
Grandmas are the best: There is no one quite like a grandma—or mammi—as she is called in Pennsylvania Dutch. When I hear the word grandma, I think of a pleasingly plump, gray-haired lady whose eyes twinkle perpetually as if every day were Christmas. That’s the kind of mammi I hope I’ve created in Anna Helmuth, the feisty mammi who stirs up trouble in Huckleberry Hill. Anna wants nothing more than to see her grandchildren settled with spouses of their own, and she goes to great lengths to see that each grandchild has a happily ever after. Because of the closeness of the Amish family, many Amish grandparents live with their children, and many children live with their parents, sometimes in a house on the same property or in a dawdi house attached to the main house.
I became a grandma two years ago, and I must say, it is the best! I want to be a grandma like Anna Helmuth–I want to be the grandma who doesn’t mind if her grandkids rifle through her purse in search of Tic Tacs or doesn’t care if the toddler empties all the drawers in the kitchen. I want to be the grandma who cherishes that smudgy handprint on the sliding glass door and won’t let Grandpa scrub it off for at least three weeks. I want to be the grandma who makes a batch of cookie dough and doesn’t mind if it gets eaten before it makes it into the oven, who reads story after story to her grandchildren before falling asleep midsentence during book number eight. And I never want to lose my temper. That’s what parents are for.
And I resolve to serve Poptarts for breakfast.
Heavenly pies: I love pie–any kind of pie (except maybe mincemeat). In Huckleberry Hill, Lia Shetler is a wonderful cook, and she makes the most mouth-watering pies. Poor Moses always seems to miss out on her pies. It’s a nail-biter waiting to see if Moses will ever get a taste of one of Lia’s pies. I wrote Lia as a good cook because it is a quality I admire and do not possess. I am an adequate cook, but I would never win a cooking contest and people don’t rave about my cooking–but it’s okay. I’m not emotionally scarred or anything. Anna Helmuth, the mammi in Huckleberry Hill, loves to try new recipes. Unfortunately, she is a horrible cook. Her loved ones try to spare her feelings by gagging down whatever she fixes, but one such recipe proves too much for Lia’s taste buds. Two of Anna’s cooking failures come directly from my own life. Anna and Felty Helmuth still use a wood-fired cookstove. Only the most seasoned cooks can get a cake just right out of one of those.
Babies: I love babies. There is nothing in the world sweeter than a baby. Besides being an excellent cook, Lia wants to learn to be a midwife. Many Amish women still use midwives to deliver their babies. Others, especially in more progressive areas, go to hospitals. I wrote one of the midwife scenes in Huckleberry Hill shortly after witnessing the birth of my first grandchild. It was amazing. Giving birth was always an experience that brought me closer to Heaven. I love how the Amish cherish their children and place supreme importance on family relationships. And may I just say again–I love my grandbabies.