February 16, 2021

Aunt Callie and Four Nieces
Harriett’s Daylily Garden, mid-1960s


And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Matthew 6:28

This photo is perfect in so many ways!  After I left for college, Harriett decided she would build a smaller house for herself just down the hill—next door to the log house she’d lived in many years earlier.  She had retained this lot when she deeded the log house and a lot behind it to Glenn; he and Katie built a house there in the late 1950s.  Once she moved into her new place, Harriett went to work creating a flower garden on the little hill back of the house.  It was a perfect setting for daylilies—and she began planting and nurturing as many different varieties as she could find.  Early mornings found her on that hill weeding and planting and waiting for the peak blooming season. Then she sprang into action—inviting people to come for a meal and tour of her garden.

Callie Ensminger Guthrie was Evalee Ensminger’s sister—ten years her junior.  Born in 1875, Callie birthed nine children and lived to be 98 (she died in 1973). She was in her late 80’s when this “spend the day” party took place.  Harriett is second from the left in a red linen dress.  On her right is her adorable Niota cousin Willie Mae Hutsell (polka dot dress and red stole).  Next is Aunt Callie, in a floral print dress and sweater and wearing sunglasses to protect her weak eyes.  Standing tall in a white suit on the back row is Sarah Lee (Aunt Julia’s daughter).  The other cousin was also from Niota—I didn’t see her often—and I’m not sure of her name.  Perhaps Mary.  

So there they stand on a happy day together—knee deep in a field of daylilies.  I especially love how the almost unknown cousin is looking down, cradling a beautiful lily in her hand—literally “considering the lilies.” I’m sure there was a wonderful lunch inside, probably with Harriett’s pink linen tablecloth and a bouquet of some choice daylilies (picked that morning—the full blooms only last a single day) and a menu of Aunt Callie’s favorite foods. I imagine the dessert was Harriett’s famous Lemon Meringue Pie. And there would be lots of chatter and family tales—with Willie Mae and Sarah Lee doing most of the talking.  Aunt Callie probably took a nap during the afternoon as the nieces continued visiting.

Aunt Callie had seven sons and two daughters—including three sets of twins—born between the time she was 18 and 38—and she breast fed all of them!  Unlike Aunt Julia, she didn’t get to live her life out in her own home but spent many years with her son Harold’s family.  She seemed very different from her sister Julia—much less demanding—never the center of attention. She often felt “in the way” and missed doing her own cooking. Her nieces enjoyed giving her some special love and attention. 

 At least three of her sons were in the Navy during World War II and they all lived in California; another two sons lived in Texas. I think she was able to visit all of them at some time or other and they made annual visits back to Tennessee.  Jim and his wife Vera lived near Houston, and when Tom and I lived there, they invited us for a visit to their cattle ranch.  Jim grilled some amazing Texas-sized steaks for us that day! 

Another special thing in this photograph is the cedar tree in the background!  We lived in the log house when I was little, and my favorite thing was to go sit under that cedar tree on the hill—reading books and daydreaming. I can still smell the cedar! 

Consider the lilies…sit under the cedar tree.

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