This is a two-part series—one post for each set of my grandparents. They all lived here in the Black Hills. That’s how we knew about the semi-arid climate & fresh air so could put this place on our list of “could live here” after leaving the mold house. I’m so glad it worked out for us to live here. The Black Hills hold many precious memories for me.
“Grandma & Grandpa’s House”
I hear gravel crunching under the car tires as we turn off the highway & circle the pretty drive. I see the river, pine trees, grassy areas full of sun, and grandma’s large, tiered flower beds. Pink, purple, crimson, golden. To this day, the scent of petunias takes me back here. I see the deep green, glass lantern hanging where my father hung it years ago.
And then—Grandma and Grandpa’s smiling faces. They come down the front steps of their beautiful home, exclaiming and welcoming us. Hugs. Warmth. Love.
We stand near the whitewashed, cement block walls, me taking deep breaths of pine-scented, fresh air. Grandma & Grandpa’s Hungarian accents are like music to my ears.
We enter through the sunny garage and head up the stairs. It smells like onions sautéed in butter. Ahhh, the scent of comfort and adventure all at once.
My sister and I head with our things to the pink room. We love the pink room. Spacious, airy, with deep red carpet, pink walls, pink bedspreads, and a large window opening to the front yard.
Later we explore, re-examining Grandma’s beautiful Hungarian knick-knacks and colorful fabric dolls. We can hear Grandma humming to herself as she cooks supper in the large, sunny kitchen. Delicious smells come from her pots. We ask if we can help; we set the table.
5:00—Happy Hour. Grandma brings out baskets of chips, pretzels, and Grandpa’s favorite: Matzo. We gather with lawn chairs on the shaded patio, holding glasses of “Shirley Temple” drinks (“Roy Rogers” for my brother). I save my maraschino cherry for last, after I have sipped all the 7-up. Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa all chat. I am shy, so I don’t say much. But I listen with rapt attention to Grandma & Grandpa’s wonderful stories about life long ago in Hungary. Dad and Grandpa chat politics. Grandpa says how he loves President Reagan because he stands for freedom.
Dinner is ready. We sit down to eat Chicken Paprikash at the stately but cozy dining room table. We exclaim how much we love it. Grandma laughs and says it’s only a peasant dish. I think we must be peasants.
As we clear up and wash dishes, we hear Dad tuning up his violin and Grandpa his viola. Then comes the music—Bach, Beethoven, Mozart. The music flows from their hands like ribbons of the sweetest candy. Dad talks me into playing, so I approach the old, tall piano. We play together. Then I go back to my cozy spot on the bearskin rug near the fireplace and take up my book. It’s summer so the fireplace is not burning, but I like to sit there anyway.
Tomorrow we will enjoy an adventure. Maybe we will go to Angostura Reservoir or Evans Plunge. Maybe we will explore the river and play in the yard.
But for now, I slip into the pink room and lie down, happy. I hear the adults watching the news. The grandfather clock chimes. I smell pines and cool air through the window. So peaceful. I feel so loved.
Christa Upton Black Hills Picture Books Edgemont, SD 57735