Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday I completed the Pecan (we pronounce this pa-Cahn as Mac's Mama always told us a pee-can was something kept under the bed) pies. It is not Thanksgiving without them. 2 of them. Then, I had the unexpected honor or Arianna's company. Our Granddaughter is welcome to move in should she like, so sorry...I was enjoying her and couldn't get over here to say so. Ditto Tuesday. Tuesday Arianna made brownies. By herself. More goodies for the Thanksgiving feast. But for the two she and her Grandpa sampled. She loved the Guinea fowl (which are owned by Tara and Sam). She took photos with her camera phone to send home. I was ever so thankful for her company on Monday and Tuesday.
Wednesday came all to soon. Today at 2 pm I took the young miss to meet her Mom the other side of Hartsville. Tonight I made the Lemon Chiffon Pie. It resides in the fridge awaiting a cold sharp knife tomorrow. I have the roaster out and ready for the Tom Turkey to take up residence. The cornbread is nice and stale and ready for the treatment of onions, celery, eggs and sage. I can't wait.
Tomorrow the family will tumble in and ohh and ahh over all the delectable goodies there are to eat from the Tom Turkey and honey roasted ham down to the last smidgen of dessert. I will be so ready to sit back and relax, that Thankful does not begin to describe it.
Note to children, particularly the parents of Arianna: I have been slaving away on this meal for the past week and a half. No one, and I do mean NO ONE will rear up from the table and announce that they are going to the movies. If that happens, I am canceling Christmas Dinner and going to Disney World. Without you.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thanksgiving is America's preeminent day. It is when we usher in the Christmas season. It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday in the month of November. It has a very interesting history. Its origin can be traced back to the 16th century when the first thanksgiving dinner is said to have taken place.
Journey of Pilgrims
The legendary pilgrims, crossed the Atlantic in the year 1620 in the Mayflower-A 17th Century sailing vessel. About 102 people traveled for nearly two months with extreme difficulty. This was so because they were kept in the cargo space of the sailing vessel. No one was allowed to go on the deck due to terrible storms. The pilgrims comforted themselves by singing Psalms- a sacred song. Nearly every American would love to lay claim to being a descendant of one of the Mayflower passengers. As far as I know, there were no passports given out, but we do know quite a few of their names. As far as I know, none of the Douglas Clan was aboard.
Arrival in Plymouth
The pilgrims reached Plymouth rock on December 11th 1620, after a sea journey of 66 days. I don't think they had an outboard engine, only wind power. Wind power being what it is though , they could not reach the place owing to winds blowing them off course. The original destination was somewhere in the northern part of Virginia. I believe a man was in charge of asking directions, and so there you go. Nearly 46 pilgrims died due to extreme cold in winter. (I take it that the 46th passenger had a close call, but someone poured warm grog down his throat just in the nick of time.) However, in the spring of 1621, Squanto, a native Indian taught the pilgrims to survive by growing food. According to my grandfather, they used fish for fertilizer...but probably only the entrails unless they didn't particularly like the taste of fish. Daddy Dwight (my grandfather) had a love for fish and fishing and would throw entrails, heads and scales into the compost to make great fertilizer. He wouldn't think of wasting the edible parts on plant rows.
Day of Fasting and Prayer
In the summer of 1621, owing to severe drought, pilgrims called for a day of fasting and prayer to please God and ask for a bountiful harvest in the coming season. God answered their prayers and it rained at the end of the day. It saved the corn crops. We still do that to this day. But first we always ask God why he lets us get into these messes...Mammy (my Grandmother) always said He was just trying to get our attention and that maybe if we didn't leave Him out of our daily life, who knew what might be gifted to us! I tend to agree with her. She was infrequently wrong about anything.
First Thanksgiving Feast
It is said that Pilgrims learnt to grow corn, beans and pumpkins from the Indians, which helped all of them survive . In the autumn of 1621, they held a grand celebration where 90 people were invited including Indians. (Okay okay, Native Americans...can't seem to get the fact that they hadn't actually landed in India out of my head. ) The grand feast was organized to thank God for his favors. This communal dinner is popularly known as “The first thanksgiving feast”. There is however, no evidence to prove if the dinner actually took place. It is sort of a "word of mouth" story that came down parent to child...like a game of Gossip...some historians believe that the pilgrims, being quite religious, would definitely have a day of fasting and praying before a huge feast. Whether or not the dinner actually took place is any body's guess. The Colony Leader who supposedly wrote about it could have been dreaming, brought on by extreme hunger.
Turkey and First Thanksgiving Feast
There is no evidence to prove if the customary turkey was a part of the initial feast. According to the first hand account written by the leader of the colony, the food included, ducks, geese, venison, fish, berries etc. But the table without a turkey on it, is a poor table to be sure. Never having a taste for goose or duck, I'd as soon put nothing on the table than go without the traditional turkey. I've never been one to buck tradition. So no venison on the table either...perhaps at the table...some one please pass Bambi some cranberries.
Pumpkin and Thanksgiving Feast
Pumpkin pie, a modern staple adorning every dinner table, is unlikely to have been a part of the first thanksgiving feast. Pilgrims however, did have boiled pumpkin. (Picture me gagging here). Diminishing supplies of flour led to the absence of any kind of bread. Sort of begs the question, did the pilgrims break bread with Squanto and his tribe? So, no cakes or pies. Bummer.
The feast continued for three days and was eaten outside due to lack of space. It was not repeated till 1623, which again witnessed a severe drought. People will just not learn. Don't wait till you're in drastic need and then start begging God to save your belly! Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of thanksgiving in the year 1676. October of 1777 witnessed a time when all the 13 colonies joined in a communal celebration. It also marked the victory over the British. (Sorry Mary, but someone had to say it...Thanksgiving is really just another razzberry to the King...)
After a number of events and changes, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a Day of Thanksgiving in the year 1863. This was due to the continuous efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor. She wrote a number of articles for the cause. Of course it had to be a woman leading the way...because that's what we do. We whisper in men's ears at night when they are sleeping, and when they awaken they have this great idea that they came up with all on their own. (Big sigh here...) So, Mary this is why we have Thanksgiving. We needed a day where we could do the cooking and prop children up in front of the TV to watch the parades and the ginormous balloons floating across the skyscapes of New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Los Angeles...well, all over America really. But the actual bonus to the women is simple. We can get rid of men when the parades are over by turning on the TV to ESPN, where hours and hours of mind numbing game play keeps their attention on the tube and off the fact that we are about to spend three days shopping like maniacs. I hope that clears things up for you Mary (and anyone else who needs the scoop on Thanksgiving.)
Now, I'm sure everyone remembers the sweet poem that we were told as children. It is actually entitled Monday's Child, but I always remember it as Friday's Child. Just contrary that way. Plus I was born on a Friday. Ahem...here goes:
Fridays child poem
Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
I have a particular child in mind today. His name is Noah Biorkman and his address is
1141 Fountain View Circle
South Lyon, MI 48178
This young man is in last stage cancer and is celebrating Christmas early. He wants Christmas cards. I have mine to Noah already addressed and ready to mail. I learned of Noah through my friend Queenmothermamaw's post yesterday. She highlighted Karrie , one of her followers. It was through Karrie that the story of Noah emerged. Go see.
EDIT ALERT:..this information about Noah is apparently outdated. One day I will learn to check my information no matter where it comes from. Snopes is my friend will be my mantra. But still, go visit both my blogging friends.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
As for today, I'm grateful for a decent hair cut. Thank you Miranda darlin'.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I call them the Three Stooges...Larry Moe and Curly...Cher is Larry, Hound is Moe and Sonny, a natural born clown, is most definitely Curly. Hound (that's her on the left) is the boss. Cher is the follower (she's in the middle) and of course we all know Sonny. Sonny is the one who wakes us up each morning, and then demands to "make the bed" no later than 8 am. He loves to "help" by going under the sheets and pulling on the quilt then jumping up and down from the head board to the middle. It is the only household chore that makes me glad. These three guys play their hearts out all day and half the night. I once read that cats sleep 18 hours a day. Exactly which 18 hours I haven't been able to put my finger on. But play they will and play they demand.
What they are most grateful for is that they have a loving home and did not end up in the animal shelter. Such a misnomer that is, it's not much of a shelter and more often a death sentence. They are thankful for the electronic mouse with laser light nose. Sonny knows that when you pick it up chase time is about to start. He will look at you, with the mouse in your hand, and the butt starts moving back and forth, ready for action. The game goes on for several minutes, with the three of them fighting for control of the light on the floor. We play it so often that we purchased replacement batteries on e-bay so we didn't break the bank replacing them at WalMart.
They are thankful (especially Hound) for the dust mop. She has jumped on and ridden the dust mop since she was about six weeks old. Hound is the one we found abandoned even before her eyes were opened. I am the only mother she has ever known. Mac, who swears she is insane, says he knows now why she was left on her own. Insane or not, as long as you keep her nails trimmed, it doesn't hurt all that much when she runs up your back to sit on your shoulder. We really should have named her Polly.
Cher, who older son Wallace calls Psycho Kitty, has little oddities of her own. She only wants to be petted on her own terms. She may climb in your lap for affection, but you can never pick her up and place her in your lap. She makes you very grateful when she jumps down if you make the mistake of picking her up. You may reach down and stroke her but make no mistake, if you don't hear a purr, your attention is not appreciated. But back to their Thankful list. Tonight is Wednesday. They eat dry food six days a week. But on Wednesday night, promptly at five, they get tuna. Not cat food tuna, but real honest to gosh Chicken of the Sea tuna. It is mixed in with the dry and makes it taste ever so flavorful (or so they tell me) and they have reached the stage that they know when Wednesday comes. Or else why is it that they meet me in the pantry every Wednesday at 5 pm? For being able to spoil them all a little bit, I can't help but say, God I am truly thankful!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Now, Mama had a nice washer and dryer, a front loader both. Once when complaints about doing laundry were heard, she took us to visit our Aunt Florence Sellers on the Monday Wash Day and dropped us off. We loved Aunt Florence and Uncle May (not a typo, so no red pencils please) so visiting them was pure joy to us. Uncle May had a good sized bamboo field across from the house (they made the greatest fishing poles) and we liked to run thru the bamboo field, swinging the big stalks to the ground. If it was work, we didn't know it. But on this day, Aunt Florence was on the back porch, the big old wringer washing machine agitating the first load of clothes. She had a big tub on the bench next to the washer, and in it were white shirts soaking in a bleach solution. The scrub board lay next to the tub. We watched as the water was pumped out of the basin of the tub and she grabbed big water heavy work pants and fed them through the wringer to get as much of the water out as possible. This was time consuming back breaking work. Of course it beat taking the clothes down to the river to wash, but not by much. I am so thankful for my nice modern washer and dryer every single time I go back and revisit the memory of washing clothes with Aunt Florence.
This day, and I was probably about six years old, she asked me if I wanted to help. Of course I did. I was always game to try anything she might suggest. Climbing up on the bench so I could bend over and reach into the basin, I picked up a comparatively light article of clothing (I think it was a pair of her ginormous step- ins) and while trying to feed the cloth into the "mangle", promptly got my arm, (step-ins and all,) caught in the wringer. There was much wailing and screeching going on (and that was just Aunt Florence) and then Uncle May came running out on the porch. He reached over and unplugged the washer and disconnected the wringer somehow (he'd done that before. I could tell by the swift way he got me loose from the thing). I sat in his lap while he petted and prodded the arm and told me that it was going to be okay. Aunt Florence told me I was making a big thing out of it, but I could tell it had scared her, too. After all, my mother had left me in her care with two perfectly good arms and legs, it wouldn't do to return me any less perfect that I had arrived.
Oddly enough, when I'm telling this, I can see them both so clearly and even hear their voices, that funny little hitch in Uncle May's laughter, that high pitched voice of Aunt Florence's. The only other time that happens is when I think about the time Uncle May's mule kicked me. But that's another story all together, and I'll tell it another day.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
What I am most thankful for today has to do with cooking. I can remember my grandmother's big electric range that took up a good part of the kitchen. But sitting squat and black in a corner was the little Franklin stove, the one that had the fire laid in it every night before bed, so that all it needed was a match when her feet hit the floor. The Franklin stove heated the kitchen, cooked the grits and warmed the chilled little bodies that dressed before it, getting ready to catch the school bus. The electric range made the biscuits and cooked the roast, fried the chicken, baked the cakes and transformed little rounds of sweet dough into cookies that melted in your mouth.
Then, along came this young upstart, the Microwave. Everyone raved about it, what a marvelous invention it was, how it was transforming kitchens the world over. Microwave cook books came out with tips on how to use this marvelous new invention so that your bread didn't need an icepick to break it apart for eating. Thing is, I never figured out how to cook one darned thing in one that tasted nearly as good as what I cooked on my electric range...or the wonderful Aga gas range that I had when we lived in England. But you know, sometimes I want a cup of tea faster than the range can do it, at times like that I'm thankful for my darling little microwave...but for the life of me, I can't figure out any other useful purpose for it! One day it's going to make a wonderful little planter.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
And there in lies a post.
When I was growing up we had only a few of the wonderful appliances in our home that we have now. We had an electric range, a refrigerator, a TV and radio. My parents had a stereo which we were under no circumstances ever to touch. EVER. My dad had three remote controls, their names were Holly, Sandi and Toni. Sometimes he conveniently combined our three names to Holsanton to make sure he got at least one little body to change the channel of the TV we could only watch one hour a day. We were also in the era of rabbit ears, and sometimes just the touch of our fingers on that contraption would make the picture come in clearer and if it was a news item, we had to stand there for a while so that all the news he wanted to hear could be seen, as well. Now, these days I have satellite, both TV and radio. If we lose picture on account of clouds, never mind, I have tivo'd 80 hours of entertainment in that event and we will never do without moving pictures on the screen. And I don't have to have Arianna stand with one hand on a rabbit ear, the other pointed out sharply north east to ensure a perfectly crisp image. What a world. What a life. So, today I am thankful for my dish...how did we ever get along without it? Funny though, last night we had to watch a movie on the DVD player because of all the 359 channels Dish offers at the lowly price of $()&.00 a month, nothing was on.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I used to love to watch my Grandmother roll her own cigarettes. She would open a can of Prince Albert, hold the paper deftly between two fingers, fill the channel with tobacco, lick one side and quickly close it around the sweet smelling blend, making a cylinder to hold the match to. Okay, I know it is a nasty habit, but back then no one knew how dangerous it could be , but to watch Mammy accomplish such a feat of magic...well, I was suitably impressed. Such dexterity of the fingers and hands she passed onto us that cats cradles and yoyoing came naturally. It's no wonder that stringing green tobacco onto sticks came so easily to us.
My Mother was a chef, pure and simple. There was nothing simple about her cooking and yet she made it look so easy that you wanted to try preparing every dish she ever mastered. Paula Deen and Julia Child had nothing on Mama. She could take the toughest of meats and give it the consistency of Fillet Mignon...and she could create Pavlova to rival the original. We all wanted to cook like her...sometimes we succeed. But not all her secrets were passed onto us. Most of the magic was in her soul and she took that with her when she left us.
Our families are a work of tapestry that can never be recreated. Each tapestry is unique to you, the added thread work that moves down the pattern will continue the thread of life that we are ever thankful for. So, for today I am most thankful for the Tapestry that is my family, with all its knots and silks...all it's mistakes and corrections. I thank them for the never completed work, that stitching that goes on and on into forever.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
We have our rain barrels set up to catch the water to tend to plants. Any water we save now will be used all winter long as needed so that we don't have to hook up hoses. I have been known to awaken in the middle of the night wondering if I disconnected a hose. Why worry? Well, in the event of a freeze, you run the risk of broken pipes if the hose isn't curled happily on the ground. And yes, I've actually gotten up in the middle of the night to make sure. I stood on the porch this morning and peered down towards where the barrels are and saw that water is up to the tops of both of them. We're set for a while. I'm so thankful that my mother showed us how to set up a rain barrel system. It has saved us countless dollars over the years. And since it's rainwater, the plants are not shocked by chlorine or other chemicals and what we call organic, is truly organic. I'm sure the rain will be gone by nightfall, but in the meantime, I intend to enjoy the blessings that it is bringing. I think I may curl up with a good book later...or a game of Scrabble. In the mean time, I'm just thankful that the rain barrels are doing their job.
In honor of Veterans Day, I hope you will read this beautiful poem which so eloquently points out just what our Veterans have done for us to protect our freedoms.
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
After Hurricane Hugo ( September, 1989) which was a disaster for all of South Carolina and most of North Carolina, we tend not to say such things as "we need a good hurricane to bring us rain." At least not where anyone can hear us. For the most part, there is no such thing as a "good" hurricane. For the other part we don't want people glaring at us and wishing us ill. Earlier this afternoon as I sat in my pretty red truck and waited for the rain to slack off, I said a prayer of thanks for all of Chesterfield County and hopeful that any flooding is light and non damaging. But God, how we needed that rain. How thankful we are to receive it!
will take you to a pearl of a giveway from my pal, Debra...please go by and check in!
Monday, November 9, 2009
Tomorrow night for supper, Mac will be thankful for braised pork chops, green butterbeans, hot buttered rice and sliced tomatoes tasting fresh from the garden. No gases ever touched their tender flesh. A quick scalding and slipping the peel...maybe I feel up to having a sink sandwich...well, maybe not quite yet. So, for today I'm thankful for Mac and his green thumb. Cause, I sure would love me a tomato for supper tomorrow when I've for sure recovered!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Now, for what I am thankful for this morning. I am thankful that my sons and daughters(in-law) are well and uninjured today. I am thankful that my Granddaughter is safe within her school walls and learning the lessons she will need to become a success in her future. I am thankful for the man I married 41 years ago, who spent much of his life (30 years) in the Navy spending many years at sea away from those who loved him most to defend the country he loved the most.Father , I am thankful.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
A few years back we changed doctors due to the fact that our other doctor nearly killed me. Yes, you read right. Okay, so maybe nearly killed me is a bit strong, but no thanks to her I did not end up a quadriplegic. It was so close a call, I get the shivers. After the surgery that put me (more or less) back on my feet, I went Doctor hunting. We both knew, Mac and I, that we would never darken her door again. So I went through the TriCare manual looking for Doctors in the system and tried to learn something about them. I came across our current Doc and his credentials looked good. I made the appointments for follow up from the surgery and one for Mac to get us both established as new patients.
From day one, I was impressed. Unlike the usual "cattle call" rush thru labs, quick visit with the Doc pay your co-pay byby visit, he sat with me and took time to ask questions about my personal health, what I was being treated for, what surgeries I had recently had, and why. Why was the big question he wanted answers to. He listened to the newly repaired heart and told me it was beating strong and steady, he examined the newly restored neck complete with titanium and cadaver bone vertebrae and pronounced it a miracle, looked at my blood sugar log and told me that I had to do better. You can't have it all.
So this was in September of 2003. We don't dread going to see him, for we know that if he finds anything new to worry about, he'll turn heaven and earth to find the answers that will relieve our minds. He's just that sort of a doctor. Very much like my father, he doesn't much care for unanswered medical questions. And no question is to embarrassing for him. I've seen him go get one of his medical books and sit with me looking for the answer if he feels I doubt him in any way. I've learned to put my trust in him, and he's earned every ounce of it. I'm a hard sell. So, today I'm so thankful for Dr. Kenneth Pickens Moyd...now if that's not a Southern name, I'll buy you lunch.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I think that in all our lives, everything we are thankful for harks back to childhood. Yesterday I was thankful for collards, but after working all afternoon cleaning cooking and freezing turnip greens with root, I'd be hard pressed to be thankful for them! There is nothing quite so hard to clean as the turnip. Of course that is just my opinion. But still, when we thaw out that bag of turnips later on in the winter, I assure you that we will be most thankful for them, the misery of elbow deep water (and I use warmish water) a thing of (not so long) distant memory.
Our neighbors, Tara and Sam (I won't even attempt to spell their last name, suffice it to say Sam is from Greece) have a nice size little farm that sits adjacent to us. We get to share the beauty of their horses, the sweetness of the cattle, the raucousness of their geese and the neighborliness of their guinea chickens. You see, guineas are wild free spirits who spend their lives hiding their nests and foraging for food in all its forms. We buy dried corn to put out at the woodline for the deer. There's nothing more relaxing than sitting out on the back porch with a cat in your lap, watching the deer come up to eat. Our land is posted against hunters, so is Sam and Tara's. When the chickens first appeared in our yard, Mac went to the barn to get some corn. That started a trend. We've now graduated to chicken feed.
It was one day a couple of weeks ago when the Guineas first arrived. I felt such an overwhelming sense of peace at these lovely birds, and remembered Little Granny (Merriman) her apron filled with chicken feed, softly calling "chick chick chick" and throwing the feed out in a wide arc so that all would get something to eat. You learn quickly about a pecking order if you don't spread it out enough. Unlike human mothers, the young chicks will be pecked back to eggdom if they get in the way of the senior chickens beaks. Hence, pecking order. I don't know why it sends such a shiver of calm over me to see those chickens running toward us expectantly. Perhaps it fulfills the "mother earth" part of my nature. I did tell you I was a card carrying, tree protecting bunny hugger. You suspected though, right?
So, this morning when I was out feeding the cats, I expected to see the Guineas racing toward the porch in anticipation of a morning meal. They didn't come. I went back inside and Mac says, "why the face?" I explained that the chickens hadn't come for breakfast. I mean really, after three weeks of being our bestest friends forever and a no show now? I kept going back out and found myself clucking "chick chick chick" out behind the barns. So here I was, typing away about what I was feeling thankful for, about how those darned chickens had made each morning glad, and this morning , NO CHICKENS. Listen, I picked up the phone and actually called and left Tara a message...where are the chickens? I know, pitiable.
Lee popped up on I/M and asked about me and how our evening went , I told her about the hard work of cleaning and cooking the turnips Bill had blessed me with and suddenly I hear Mac yelling out "your chickens are here!" I can't believe how happy I felt. I hurriedly told Lee I had to run for a sec, the chickens were here. Now, here is how close our friendship has become. She understood completely. So, here on day 4 of giving thanks it's a dead heat. I'm thankful for my neighbors chickens who give me a sense of peace every morning. But mostly, I'm thankful for Lee. I have Evil Sister, Good Sister, and now I have Blogging Sister. Wow. I am really and truly blessed.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Before we know it, November will be far into its first week and we'll have to start thinking about Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving maybe more than Christmas. I said maybe. But something happened yesterday that could clarify it for me some more. And since this is day three of Giving Thanks Challenge, I know exactly what I'm thankful for. Here goes.
One day last week we stopped by my cousin Bill's house to take him a little gift. I have always loved Bill, since I was a little girl. But more on Bill in a later post. Anyway, we started talking about his turnip patch and I told him that I still cooked my turnips the way Aunt Delah (his mother) had instructed me that they were to be cooked. He asked about our collards and Mac told him how great they were doing. "I love collards," Bill allowed, "but with just me here it's too much trouble to prepare them and cook them. " I made him a deal then and there. I'd trade him some cooked to a turn collard greens, if he would let me get about 3 dozen turnips, complete with greens. He agreed so fast it made my head swim.
Yesterday, after we got home from Mac's appointment with his Doc for his quarterly blood work (that darned cholesterol medication!) I found a message from Bill. I was just about to return his call when the phone rang. I told him he must be psychic, I was just about to call and he told me to be at his house at about 10:30 (this) morning. He said J.W. (his nephew, another cousin of mine) was coming to help him harvest the turnips and he was ready for collards! Promising to see him at the appointed time and place, I told Mac we had to go pull a collard head.
We walked out to the garden a bit later and Mac asked which one I wanted. I pointed to a beautiful huge head loaded with lush green leaves and said I'd take that one. It was such a perfect specimen that I caught my breath. "You know, " I mused, " if this were at the State Fair, it'd be a prize winner. A blue ribbon prize winner." Mac had just cut the heavy root off, and held it up for a better look. "I do believe you're right, " he grinned.
I cut the leaves off, which left just the stalk to go into the compost. There was not one leaf that was damaged, no poison had ever touched them, no bugs had munched, not one single blemish was on that perfect head of collards. I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear at Mac's success. Taking the bundle of leaves inside, I lay them on the counter and filled the sink with the the first of several rinsing water baths. After I had washed them, I rolled them, one by one, into the tight bundle I had often seen Mammy (my Grandmother) do, took my kitchen shears and cut them into small pieces. And was instantly transported back in time to her kitchen. I could hear her voice talking about the Thanksgiving meal she was preparing and how good she felt that we had made the trip up from Tampa to be with them all. She was busy cutting the collards into the stock pot and bringing them to the boil. She put in piece of fatback and covered the pot tightly. She was describing to me the dinner that would soon be shared with her family. The dining room would be filled with Aunts and Uncles, grown cousins and of course Grandparents. The big kitchen table would be set for the children where from 9 to 15 of us would sit for our meal. The main topic of conversation would be how to get rid of the collards on our plate. No one, of course, was thinking about actually eating them. The smell of cooking collards is something that most children would find offensive. All those vitamins and roughage fouling the air, covering the smell of roasting turkey and the best dressing anyone ever put in their mouths...
Mammy had a rule when it came to food put on your plate. You cleaned that plate, on account of all the starving children in China. (My friend Vonnie said her Granny once knocked her half way into the following week when she replied "I wish they had this plate, I don't like collards"). Now, I don't know how our cleaning our plates had a thing to do with the children in China, starving or otherwise, but we respected (read feared) Mammy enough to do what she said. I'm not sure when my childhood self turned against me, but that Thanksgiving something profound happened. Preparing myself to heave, taking the first bite (after a liberal dosing of Pepper sauce) I found the taste, well...I found the taste pleasing. I took a second bite and actually smiled. The rest of the table looked at me like I was an alien in their midst. I was reaching for a hunk of cornbread...
When I came back to myself, found me standing at the kitchen sink still cutting collards, putting them into the big stock pot and grinning like a mule eating briers. I had heard Mammy's voice so clearly, even though she has been gone for 30 years, that I didn't doubt she had been standing right next to me. I felt her love wrap around me like a warm sweater...or a big old collard leaf. All that was missing was the smell of cornbread wafting from the oven. I guess that's why it's called "comfort food".
Monday, November 2, 2009
I always knew that friends were a tonic for when you hit low points in your life. But before I came into this wonderful world of blogging, my friends were always those to whom I could put a face and a voice to. Now I may not always be able to put a voice to your faces, but I've seen your faces in your blogs so much that I would know you if I saw you. How does one say "Thank You" for all the wonderful prayers that went out? Well, I just want to say it again...thank you my friends. You're a rock.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
For Day 1, I want to give thanks for my daughters-in-law, Charity and Anna. We very often neglect to tell the people around us whom we love and admire, that we DO. So I would like to take this opportunity to tell them how dear they are to me, in their own right. They make my sons lives full and enrich our lives, as well. I give thanks they both have now found jobs that they not only like, but love. That's such an important distinction, when you are working full time, trying to keep your family on an even keel. No misery attached to the jobsite means a lighter spirit. So, I'm thankful for my girls. Not just because they are married to my boys, but because they love us in return, and never fail to show it.
Now, I'm headed over to Leah's South Breeze Farm so I can check out your blessings. Blogging our Blessings...I love this. See you tomorrow for Day 2.