My Favorite Place to Visit is my Grandma's House
Kristi Fowler, Division 3, College freshman #ws16e-s2d3

My favorite place to go is my grandma’s house. Colette Fowler lives in the quaint countryside of Maryland, Prince Frederick, a former tobacco farming area dotted between forests. Parts of Prince Frederick have been historically preserved, such as the charming downtown. Being fairly close to Washington, D.C., there is a great deal of pressure to develop this old-fashioned countryside. This area has rolling hills and forest, abandoned tobacco fields and antiquated barns. Some of abandoned fields have wondrously been converted to acreages of different species of flowers; full of colors like red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The living colors of the spectrum!

Grandma Colette is from France. She met my grandfather, while he was in the Air Forcestationed in France. Raymond Fowler would stop by the commissary, where she worked as a cashier, to visit my future grandma. (He even studied the French language to better communicate with this beautiful woman.) They fell in love and got married in Jarny, France, where my grandma grew up as Colette Andrea. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in Jarny, where Colette’s five brothers and sisters live. (My grandpa, sadly, passed on a few years ago.)

The part of Maryland where she lives is where my grandpa grew up. (He wanted to retire from the Air Force in his home town on a piece of property passed down to him.) Raymond loved his 25 acres of farmland, forests and pastoral fields and worried about what would happen to his property once it was handed down to the next generation. My grandpa can rest in peace, because my father Jack, and his two brothers, do not intend to sell it.

Instead, the Fowler brothers have decided to keep the house as a retreat. Uncle Danny, who lives the closest to the property, will be designated the executor of the property once my grandma passes away (hopefully it will be at least 20 years in the future). In this role, he will be responsible for the maintenance of the property, such as clearing the woods and ensuring the barn is maintained. Uncle Danny has been volunteering to help grandma for years, so he has the most knowledge of grandma’s home and property.

Grandma Colette is active for someone approaching 80. She cuts the grass with a tractor lawn mower (she lets me cut the grass if I’m there at the right time!) and helps clear the woods for her wood-burning furnace. My grandma is hard-working and talented. She puts her energy to good use such as reupholstering furniture and making quilts. Friends and family often ask her for help.

I love visiting grandma’s house because there’s so many things to do. My Uncle Danny and cousin Samantha, make it a point to be there when my mother and I visit in the summer. While Uncle Danny helps grandma with chores, Samantha and I do all of our favorite activities like visiting the barn and especially the woods, picking vegetables, and helping grandma cook dinner.

My grandma’s house holds many precious memories to me. Most of these recollections involve spending time with my relatives. One of my father’s brothers is Danny. I love my Uncle Danny and Aunt Ginger, the parents of my cousins (see next paragraph). This family of five has stayed in the D.C. area, which is about a 90-minute drive to Prince Frederick. A fun fact about Danny Fowler’s family: the entire family graduated from the University of Maryland, where he met and married his future wife. To say the least, they are all fierce Terrapins!

My cousins, Samantha, Eric, and Justin, are close in age and get along well. We are all young adults (millennials) now; each of us probably look back with wonderful memories of grandma’s home. I remember playing with them many times in the barn where we climbed to the hay loft. The smell of the hay was earthy and provided food for the horses in the stables, where the aroma was zoo-like.

My cousins and I enjoyed riding the horses under the supervision of my Grandpa Raymond. He spoiled his horses, Leon and J.C., to the point that they behaved like two enormous dogs. All he had to do was call their names and they would thunder to him before halting at the fence. He would feed them carrots or pears fresh from a near-by tree. He taught us how to feed the horses by holding your hand flat, palm up. One time, I messed up and one of the horses nipped my finger by mistake. I was only about six when this happened, and was afraid to feed the horses again, even though my grandpa reminded me that his horses were gentle and it was an accident.

My grandparents also kept a vegetable garden, filled with a variety of produce, including lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and corn. They taught my cousins and me when the vegetables were ready to pick. My cousins and I had fun finding the grandpa’s nastiest old t-shirts before heading out the door. I also remember putting on sunscreen (smelling like going to the beach instead of the garden) before picking vegetables in the hot summer sun. Samantha and I also each wore one of grandma’s big floppy hats.

I especially enjoy visiting my grandma’s house during the Thanksgiving holidays. Her birthday is on November 25, so she combines the two celebrations. It is so fun to eat birthday cake after a filling turkey dinner! Because my grandma is French and enjoys cooking, she puts on a mouth-watering spread. There are always fresh green beans, which she cans after picking (all of the vegetables are from her garden), and other traditional Thanksgiving food (e.g., sweet potatoes and stuffing). In addition, Grandma Colette puts a little French twist with bread and cheese, red wine and pastries.

It is a tradition for all of the family to meet at her house during the Thanksgiving holidays. This includes Uncle Danny’s family, and my other uncle, Phillip, and his wife, Janice (they live in Charlotte). With so many adults at the table, my cousins and I used to sit at the “kids” table. Then by the time I became a teenager (I am the youngest cousin), grandma decided we could sit with the adults. I was disappointed when this decision was made, because we could act goofier at our own table.

In the summer, my mother, Sharon Fowler, usually accompanies me to Maryland. Unlike my father, she is retired and can stay for a few weeks. My mom also loves the woods and the barn, and especially Grandma Colette (I suspect that everyone who meets my grandma falls in loves with her). They joke around with each other (my mom teases Colette about her French accent). My mom also finds cleaning projects to “pay her way.” To be clear, my grandma does not expect my mom to clean her house, but she considers it a “sweet deal.”

Sometimes my mother’s life-long friend, Marie, comes to visit, as she lives about two hours away. When she’s there, we girls play cards for hours. The card game, “Gin Rummy,” is the most popular game. My Aunt Ginger is famous for being a card shark with this game. We have not managed to set up a date when they could both be there at the same time. How fun would that be!

I love visiting grandma’s house because there’s so many things to do. My Uncle Danny and cousin Samantha, make it a point to be there when I’m visiting in the summer. While Uncle Danny helps grandma with chores, Samantha and I do all of our favorite activities like visiting the barn and especially the woods, picking vegetables, and helping grandma cook dinner.

I especially enjoy the woods on their property. The sound of birds chirping, the crunching sound on the leaf-littered ground, the way the trees cast shadows, and the earthy smell of the forest. The canopy of trees is refreshing. It delivers cooling shade, contrast from the blaring sun, in the form of dark shadows. Another part of the forest I love is a babbling creek. It is at a bottom of a tree-topped hill and I grab the branches to prevent slipping into the creek.

It so relaxing to be in the wooded outdoors that I can see why there’s camping grounds nearby. Just like me, others are inspired by the local forests. There’s a quote from David Henry Thoreau, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Thoreau’s observation indeed rings with truth, as mankind is attuned to nature. We are spiritual beings, seeking our meaning in life. We turn to nature for answers.

My grandma is talented, entertaining, and welcomes family and friends to stay at her “quaint” home (a log cabin, without the logs). It is a great joy to visit her home in the woods. Most of all, it is our love for our remarkable Grandma Colette that we especially enjoy visiting her home.
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