Table of Contents:
-Short Story Introduction
-Comic Script Pages
-Cookbook Excerpt And Recipe
Short Story Introduction
An old wooden farmhouse sits. Tall. Sectioned. A barn sits in the distance behind it. The kitchen and living room are on the bottom floor in the front of the house and the whole back of the house is a staircase that spirals into long hallways with many bedrooms, Victorian-style: small thin rooms with small wooden doors and brass knobs. The attic room looks over the house and the valley like a lighthouse.
The house’s outside is wood paneling painted a light blue. The sides facing the sun are faded. The weeds are overgrown across the dirt lot front yard. The farmland on all sides of them in the distance is covered in small sprouts of dry, dying grass. At the drain pipe in front of the house, next to the front porch, dry during this season, sit a small pile of rocks broken off with markings on them, some faded, some fresh. The blue baseboard by the drain is chipped and discolored from wet, starting to mildew and mold a green color.
On the left side of the house is a wraparound porch with no netting. A few old rocking chairs showing wear, burnt cigarette holes in the cushions, arms discolored and slightly wood slightly dipped from arms resting on them sit on the porch. The shutters are up in the windows behind them where you can see the kitchen and the wall of the living room. A few wooden, non-rocking chairs sit in the corner, one with cushions, slightly torn up, and one just a wooden bottom. The ground of the porch is discolored cement from years of tobacco spit missing the spittoon. A few pieces of the window frame are chipped and fraying from the rocking chair hitting them. The tops of the rocking chairs are bent, warped, broken off. The front door is intact with a screen in front of it. The screen is filled with several tears, some small and some big, but still hangs comfortably. The red door is faded from the hot weather, warped at the edges, but still works just fine.
Inside the house, each room is manicured and different. The wallpapers in the rooms are patterned, each room different colors. All of them have darker, rustic colors: ambers, golds, purple, and terra cotta. Even though the walls are all different, the furniture matches. The furniture is older and slightly Victorian: the chairs have knobs at all four ends, sculpted into a fancy shape, and are covered in a thin fabric cushion that matches the walls of the different rooms. The armrests and legs of the chairs are thin dark wood and the cushions are pressed to the chair with brass grommets that shine dull in color. The furniture of the house gives it the feeling of being cold and unwelcoming, but these rooms all filled with pictures throughout the years. They are the stories of the families. Down the hallways are bigger, blown up portraits. They are heirloom pictures passed down between the years, each holding sentimental value to each generation. They are ornately framed in big wooden frames with golden paneling around the outsides. Heavy frames that bevel in, drawing a viewer in.
Comic Script Pages
The first picture in the hallway we see takes up an entire panel, a big panel.
The picture is a black and white, wearing inward at the edges and slightly burned, family portrait. There are six family members in the photo. The mother and father stand on the left side of the picture and the kids, 3 girls, one boy, continue the line toward the right side of the picture. The line goes one girl, one boy, one girl, and one girl. Next to the last girl a dog sits on its hind legs. Another dog lies at the feet of the mother and father. They are dressed in church clothes, nice dresses and nice suits.
They are standing in the dirt in front of the house. We see one of its corners. Instead of the dirt field that surrounds the house, the fields behind them are lush, tall fields of grass. We can see pieces of some animals grazing behind them, tails, noses, bodies, and snouts.
At the bottom of the picture in the left corner the year “1875” is scribbled in pencil.
We jump into the picture. The kids are running around playing with the dog. We are at a different angle so we can see the photographer standing with his tripod camera. From this angle, too, we can see the side of a parked caravan wagon on the side of the house. On the side of the caravan is a freshly painted sign, the last few letters still outlined. The sign says “Greyburn Farms.”
Father – “We’ll be back in a few days. Before they get here.”
Mother – “It’s winter. The roads might close.”
Father – “We’ll make it. Art, let’s get the horses ready and load the wagon.”
Art, the boy, mid-throw of some kind of ball, dogs both running in the direction of his arm. The fields of tall grass run out behind him and the dogs.
Art – “Okay, I’ll go grab them.”
Zoomed out so we see the mother and the girls playing behind her. The girls are kicking the dirt up into flurries that drift away. We are looking over the shoulder of the father as he looks at the son walking toward the barn, dogs in tow, ball in one of their mouths.
A dust flurry and wagon leave in the distance. The cameraman leaving.
Father – “We’re only going a few miles outside of Saton. It won’t be long.”
Mother – “I’ve lived here my whole life. Winter’s come fast. I know you’ll take care of Art. Try to take care of yourself too. Mind the horses. I know how much this means to you.”
Father – “It’s our first trip. After, we’ll go explore some of these hills. There has to be some places you’ve never seen here.”
The wagon is parked in the dirt at the front of the house. Art and his father are at the back of the wagon securing the base of the tarp to the wagon. The tarp cover is taupe colored and brand new, tightly pulled. The wagon is loaded down with things. We can’t see inside it, but several boxes sit at the edge and long stems of plants stick out and dangle.
A jar of paint sits on the edge of the porch on the little lip outside the railing. The dogs have their noses in the dirt by the wheel of the wagon.
Mother – “Girls, wave to you brother and father when they pass, okay?”
Both girls – “Okay”
Father- (to the dogs) “Boys, go on up to mom. We’re leaving.”
From above the front door looking toward front yard and the road leading off of their property. The dogs stand at the base of the stairs looking out. One of the girls holds her mother’s hand. The other holds onto the stair railing on the other side of the stair. Art peeks around the side of the wagon, around the tarp, waving his hand.
Girl – “Mom, how often is Papa and Art going to leave now?”
1930. Picture of a group out front of the house. Small weed are sprouting throughout the dry dirt. On the far edges is greener grass going out into the fields. One man is underneath the car that is pulled up and parked in front of the house, car facing the house. There is a logo painted on the side of the car: a radish and it’s leafy stem hung over an artfully written “Greyburn Farms.” He is checking it and working on it. There are several people outside with him, some adults, some kids. The kids sit on the steps leading up to the porch overhang in front of the house. Two of the chairs are rocking chairs and men who look like farmers are rocking back in them. The kids each have glass coke bottles in their hands. One of the rocking chair men is holding a glass bottle of coke on the armrest of his chair. The other adults are sitting in plain wooden chairs and are smoking cigarettes. One glass bottle sits on the railing, filled with cigarette butts. There are also spittoons on the porch ground between the chairs and the men. There are stains on the ground besides the chairs.
Into the picture. The kids stand up and walk down the stairs toward the left side around the porch and house. Their glass bottles are left next to the banister in a pile of three. They call out to the dad under the car.
First kid – “We’re gonna go across the field to the stream. Ben hasn’t seen it yet.”
Dad, off panel, from under the car- “Okay, check the feeds for everyone when you get back. I’ll be out once I finish here.
One of the rocking chair men- “Does Martha know you’re going?”
The kids stand at the side of the house, looking up to a second floor window.
First kid- “Mom!”
The window slides open, and a women’s head pops out. This is Martha.
First kid- “ We’re going to show Ben the stream.”
Martha- “Okay. Check the feeds when you get back. Your father is going out. “
The window shuts. Shhttt.
Back at the front of the house. The man under the car is now standing next to the car wiping his hands. A glass coke bottle sits on the roof of the car. The wife is standing next to him.
Dad – “I’m going to Deerville, so I’ll be back early tomorrow.”
Martha – “Okay, we’ll get the delivery prepped for Friday. It’s going to Dry Creek.” Dad –“Yep. I just checked the car so I know it’ll be okay to make it there. Say goodnight to the boys for me. Hopefully it’ll be a short trip.”
Zoomed out shot of all the land, the plot of farmland. The stream glistens between the valley and mountains and hills in the far distance. Their farm is in the bottom center of the panel. It’s a square block of brown, with a speck of a house, black (the roof) with a dot next to it (the barn). Surrounding that block of brown is green grass, and past that into the edges of the panels between the valley and hills and mountains before the stream are rows and rows of crops.
Mercy Lake. Action shot. The kids jump in the water. The picture is much more recent. Color. 1960’s.
The family and their friends are all set-up on a rock ledge above a lake. A dirt path leads up back behind them.
There are picnic blankets and big wool blankets and beach towels and food and drinks and pets and kids. The adults and kids are grouped up in twos, but spread out across the ledge. Two moms are of to the left. Next to them, close to the edge of the ledge are two young boys. To the right of them a baby is playing in front of one of the men and women, far from the edge. To the right of them in the back are two moms cheerfully talking.
We see a big splash and the underwater bubbles from the kid who was jumping into the water. His words are made up of bubbles under the water. They run together in a string.
Kid, in bubbles – “Didyouseethat?ThatwasawesomeIwanttogoagain.
Around the edges of this panel are several voices coming from the several people above. Only a few of the words are readable. Most of the phrasing is just squiggly lines. There are 5 different balloons from above. Balloon one: ~~~~~~~recent~~~~. Balloon two: ~~~~~jump~~~~~~. Balloon three: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~kindergarten~~~~~~~~. Balloon four: ~~hahaaah~~~~~. Balloon five: Yeah!~~~~~~~~~
Two of the moms to the left of the rest of the group. Close up. Just their heads. They continue their conversations from above.
Women 1- “Did you see the most recent paper? He got a front-page picture!
Woman 2 – “ I saw first thing this morning. Came down to breakfast and it was sitting on my chair. He saw it first thing and was smiling all morning.”
Two boys. Close-up. Shirtless. One has sandy brown hair and the other has feathered blonde hair swooped back up over.
Brown hair “You ready to jump?”
Blonde hair – “I don’t know.“
Brown hair – “Just remember to not breathe in when you hit the water. It’s really cold, too.
A close up of a mother and one of the dads or uncles.
Her- “What grade is your little one starting?”
Him- “She’ll be going into kindergarten.
Her – “Do you think she’ll take to the farm after school?
Him – “I don’t know if it’s for her. She’s got something special.”
Two moms sit together. The friend moms, not family. They are dressed up and look different from everyone. Fancier clothes. They talk happily, drunkenly about something.
Mom 1: “They said it went so well there doesn’t need to be another meeting.”
Mom 2: “Have you told them yet? They had the biggest one in the entire county.”
What can you tell me about Grayburn farms?
“ (Exhale) Greyburn farms. I loved growing up around them. They were the nicest family. You just show up and they’d give you food and drink. Of course, you’d have to work, too, but just being there was fun. Work was fun. The grandkids run it now, but their parents are my age. When we were kids we would run around the fields picking the different crops depending on the season or checking the animals feeds. Sometimes we’d be up in apple trees, sometimes picking berries from between branches. It was always different.
“My favorite job was checking the fence line, walking the perimeter of the farm. It was exploring. Some of their land went all the way up into the hills. Did you know you could see the whole valley from the top of Quintes Mountain? It goes out forever. Looks like a scarf around the valley’s neck. We’d see every type of animal on the outskirts of the property. That’s why we were checking the fence line. Sometimes it would fall down or get broken down by something and animals would get in. We always carried pots and metal spatulas to scare away any predators. Often in was just deer or a neighbor’s heifer. Sometimes, though, it was a bobcat. I can still here the scratching sound their paws made on the rocks when they’d run. God-awful.
“The house was always a history lesson, too. The farm started in 1875 in that same house. The Greyburns started the farm opposing the businessmen of Saton. Many came in trying to buy the property from under them after the Greyburns started the farm. The devils. The farm is on a plot of good, solid land. The Greyburns knew what they wanted to do and so didn’t sell. There were threats throughout the first many years, but they stayed with the farm. They loved it.
“After many years of farming and building a reputation throughout the valley, the house burnt to the ground. In 1912 it burned down. There was nothing the Greyburns could do. Back then there were no real firefighters in the valleys. By the time the smoke made it to town and people rushed over, the house was long scorched. Everyone made it out safe. The story goes that they watched it from the top of the hillside, a smoldering black dot on the earth. All their years of hard working making that house a home disappeared. It was all because of faulty wiring. Not everything was perfect back then. Once it went up there was nothing they could do to stop it. They just watched the black smoke churn and whip the sky, rolling toward town.
“When the townspeople arrived, hours later, the house was charred. They helped the family sort through the remnants and gathered the few things that remained. They became heirlooms. The community helped them rebuild the house. Saton really came to their aid. Heh, I just realized what our town’s name sounds like.
Anyway, everyone in the community loved them. Hell, they still do. Several times a week they come into town for coffee. They bring in boxes of the leftover crops hauls. In the fruitful spring seasons, sometimes everyone gets a huge box of fruits and vegetables. It’s a real perk of being a local in the town.
“And, they tell stories you couldn’t believe. Have you met Ansel? He’s the traveler who ended up staying at the farm. His stories of being on the road grip the whole town. We’ve tried to get him to speak at some of the summer events, but he always declines. He’s getting older now, I think. You know, I’m old, and he was an adult when I was a young man. So, we’re lucky enough to have him at coffee, or when we want to go visit the farm.
I hope this isn’t too much information. Am I answering your questions for your assignment? What’s your assignment for?”
You are. For my English class, we have to write a then and now essay. I chose my cousin Andrea’s farm, because I found an old picture of one of my great uncles and his family.
“I’m glad. There’s a lot to say about that house. Andrea is doing a wonderful job with the farm. Her and her husband, and Ansel, are doing new things to help liven it up. Are you going to the cooking class they’re holding? Everyone in Saton is talking about it. I think word of it made it all the way to Dry Valley. They may get a lot of people, which’ll be great for the farm. Everyone loves them, you know.
“I’ll tell you a secret. Next time you go to the farm, ask Andrea to show you the property line. You’ll see things up there you won’t think are real. It’s beautiful. Also, bring Anders a record, and he’ll start telling you stories. The older the record, the better the stories. I don’t know if they’ll be good for your assignment, but you’ll never want to leave the farm once you get him talking. I know. I’ve spent many nights out on the farm.”
The Grey Pecan Muffin
Our farm has seen many different crops, and our farm has seen many different seasons, but the crops that flourished most in our environment was the pecans. They were always beautiful and rich and dark, always deep in color and with a caramelized, shiny texture. Our soil was to their liking, we guess.
When my husband and I were young, we would spend harvest season afternoons picking almonds with my grandfather. It’s one of my greatest memories with my grandfather. He didn’t talk much, but when were out in the fields he was nothing but playful. We had so much fun with him and always played games. He would pull almonds from behind our ears, find them in our sleeves, and, my personal favorite, from inside our own shoes!
The game we always played he called pecan find. Pecan trees sometimes drop their nuts before harvesting, so they would lie on the ground around the trees. There wouldn’t be too many of them always, so we got to play Where’s Waldo with pecans. The little buggers could blend in well. While we searched for them, he and whoever was helping that day would harvest the trees.
In honor of my grandfather, and our farm, and one of our favorite treats, the grey pecan muffin is a morning breakfast for your loved ones. It’s something special to us. We hope it’s something special to you.
Here’s what you need:
2 cups of wheat flour (or regular, white flour, if you do not have wheat flour)
1 tablespoon of baking soda
2 tablespoons of sugar (3 if you have a sweet tooth like me!)
½ a tablespoon of salt
1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup of milk
¼ cup of melted butter
1-2 cups of pecans, depending on how many you like
(Note: If you can, try to use all local ingredients! It will make them feel much more wholesome for you and your loved ones.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter your muffin pans.
Mix together the baking soda, flour, salt, and sugar.
As you mix, add the egg, butter, and milk.
Stir lightly. Keep the batter a little chunky.
Pour, or spatula in the batter into the muffin pans.
Fill each cup 2/3.
Then sprinkle the pecans to your liking into the mix.
When the oven beeps, put the muffins in and set a timer for 25-28 minutes.
When they come out, the pecans should have melted beautifully into the muffins, making a beautiful brown top layer and giving them a thick texture.
You may also add pumpkin flavoring into the mix for seasonal pecan muffins. You could also add blueberries to add sweetness to them.
Author note: (Recipe adapted from: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham. © 1996 Knopf. Found at: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/basic-muffins-40037)
Attic (*Accompanied by Frank Valli and The Four Season’s “I Love You, Baby”)
Sound crack pop fizzle from below
pots and pans cling and clang in the kitchen
voice travels through the yard
up all the stairs
it leaves from my window I can hear
The sugary notes and honey sound
an echo from below
Cling clang cling clang
cling ca cling cling
Cling clang cling clang
cling ca cling cling
Cling clang cling clang
cling ca cling cling
Trumpet, drops in the song, voice follows
“I LOOVE YOUUU, BABY”
“And if it’s quite alright”
“Oh pretty Baby!”
Step stepstep stepstep, I spin down the stairs
“Can’t take my eyes off you”
I slide into the kitchen. They don’t see me, still dancing.
We all three sing. “I love you, baby” and dance into the afternoon
The Pugilist (*Accompanied by Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me”)
In the silver lights
before the start
all eyes were on me
I was ready, ohhh I was ready
bike humming under me
I was ready
bike humming under me
bike humming under me
tearing up the night
holding up so I didn’t fall
lines to the sea looked back at me
all eyes followed, fear,
bike humming under me
and the lights shined bright on me
bike humming under me
bike humming under me
I stepped away from the lights, from the eyes
The lights were too much
I didn’t want the fight
It wasn’t me
Daycooking (*Accompanied by The Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky”)
The needle dropped in the other room
buh pah buh pah buh pah buh pah
bounce up, bounce up, bounce up, bounce up
She shasays back into the kitchen
“Sun is shining in the sky,” she sings
I spin and twist and slide
She springs across the kitchen. She swings an air guitar,
spraying liquid batter all over the kitchen,
barely missing me.
The grass and wind dance along outside,
“Hey there Mr. Blue” flutters out into the yard.
Up in the top, footsteps step.
Sound shakes the wood.
He’s dancing too,
up on his feet,
sh sh shuffle beat.
The angels sound:
across the house, “ah ahhhh ah ah ah ah ah,”
springs bounce as he drops onto the bed,
laughter rings in the wood.
We embrace, slow dance through the end.
I dip her, wipe cake batter off her cheek.