By Charles Towne
“Hey you two, up here, on the roof!” Looking up, sure enough there was Maude.
She was one of the most unique people I have ever met and that day when she called to us from the roof was one example of her rare spirit.
There she was; a nail apron around her ample waist, a hammer in one hand, in the process of shingling her roof!
In today’s society with the gals holding every kind of job imaginable it is not strange to see a member of the fairer sex working as a roofer, but this happened to be back in the fifties and Maude was 87 years old at the time!
Maude was not only efficient in the area of home repairs, but she was quite capable in the culinary department as well. As a young woman she had been a cook in a Canadian lumber camp. On the back of the big wood burning, cook stove Maude kept a huge pot of soup simmering for the lumberjacks
Maude added all sorts of things to that soup such as beef stock, vegetables, venison, whatever came to hand went into that big pot. One day she noticed the soup level was getting somewhat low. Dipping a large ladle into the kettle she scraped the bottom, hooking onto something quite heavy. She raised the spoon and was surprised to see a well cooked snake about four feet long.
She looked at that savory serpent for a moment trying to decide whether or not she should remove the reptile, but thrift won out and she dropped it back into the pot, added more stock, built up the fire and the guys unknowingly ate snake soup that night. That was our friend Maude!
Shortly after we met Maude she invited us to have dinner with her. This was before we knew anything about her snake soup, otherwise we might have declined.
On the chosen day Maude served us a most delicious casserole and we were on seconds when I made a slight error in judgment and asked the pedigree of the dish. Maude never missed a lick. Taking another bite, she said, “Toadstools!” I paused, my loaded fork in mid-flight to my mouth.
“Toadstools?” I exclaimed. “Yep, toadstools“, she answered. “You know that big old stump out in my backyard? I gotta dig that thing out one of these days! Well, that stump is covered with these here big yellow toadstools. That’s what’chereatin’. Toadstool casserole; pretty good, huh?”
We sat there staring at Maude, our mouths hanging open, our forks poised in midair as we wondered when the stomach pains would start. The casserole sat there, half-eaten; whispering, “poisonous toadstools!” In a sinister, poisonous toadstool voice.
Maude, noting our apparent unease, threw back her gray head and laughed in delight. “Oh you young folks, you needn’t worry yourselves none, I fed some t’ my cat and he ain’t croaked yet!” She laughed at her witticism.
The casserole did taste good and it was while eating my next helping that our friend, our sweet grandmotherly Maude, helped us to relax even more by exclaiming, “Come to think of it though, I ain’t seen that darn cat since he ate that there casserole!”
After that we began referring to Maude respectfully, and with great affection as ‘Mad Maude’. To this day I can’t eat a mushroom without thinking of Mad Maude and her toadstool casserole.
AN OUTDOORSMAN’S PRAYER
Dear lord, thanks for bringing interesting people into my life. Thanks for preserving my life and that of my family. Help me to be what you want me to be to and for all people. You are my God and I am your child. Help me to learn from those that are older and help me to be a positive example to the young. Above all else, let me be an instrument for good in your hands. In Jesus’ blessed name I ask this, Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.