"The Root Cellar"

16 July 2010




When I was growing up, my Mom's parents owned a 250 acre farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. And as the song goes.... and on this farm they had some: chickens; hogs; cows; ducks; all sorts of wild game to include deer, squirrels, rabbit and even bear and a very large garden each summer. Other than bread, flour, sugar, coffee, corn flakes and the occasional ice cream, which they bought on a "tab" at a local mom and pop grocery store (7-11 in the country), they were more or less self sufficient.

Meats were smoked in a smoke house resident on their farm and then stored in the 3 deep chest-type freezers they kept on their screened in side port. Garden vegetables were consumed heartily during the summer but there was always much that was "canned" using Ball glass jars with the metal lids.

So the point of this remembrance is that occasionally my grandmother would ask me to go to the root cellar and fetch one or more jars of a specific vegetable or fruit. And so out the kitchen door, down the stairs and then down through the door that led to a dirt floored room under the house. Now, I am not sure there was any sort of electricity down there and thus light so thinking I had to leave the door open to see anything or if there was a light, it didn't help much to illuminate this cave.  And in this "root cellar" all along the stone foundation walls was shelf after shelf of Ball jars. I remember that it appeared to me that some jars had been in the root cellar for years and years and probably were. Of course spider webs and dust covered everything down there and so I would try not to pick up any more jars than I had to but being a kid and all, sometimes I could not recognize a specific vegetable all cut up and then stuffed into a jar. My Grandmother would not be happy with me when she had to go down to the root cellar with me to point out a specific vegetable, yet again.

So other than my grandparents root cellar, have never been in another one. Have never had one myself although have had a pantry, which is sort of similar. Wonder if anyone has a root cellar anymore and actually "cans" vegetables?


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