Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Mailman by any other name

The mail has always fascinated me. From the time I was a small child, I wanted to be the recipient of mail I could hold in my hand, mail where my name appeared in the little glassine window proudly proclaiming that this piece of mail belonged to me and me alone. Once after coming upon a postage paid advert card in one of my grandmother's magazines, I carefully filled out the details, including my name and Mammy's address and phone number then popped it into the mail box. I didn't get mail from them, but my grandparents got some rather annoying calls for years from them trying to sell hearing aids to my perfectly hearing elders...and after all that, for me still no mail.

It seems that no matter what town you live in, your Post Office is one of the first places of which you want to know the location . You actively hunt down that (usually) brick facade, the familiar Eagle insignia posted on the wall with the words United States Post Office. The grounds are well kept and nice shrubs usually skirt the front of the building. The towns in our county are lucky to have some lovely examples of architecture. Chesterfield and Cheraw especially come to mind. It would be a pity to lose these buildings to progress. They have meant so much to so many people over the years, from the Mail Carriers to the workers behind the counter, always smiling always friendly and available to give information you might need. They've even helped with directions to unfamiliar places.

As a young Navy wife, the mail carrier was always someone I looked forward to seeing come up our walkway as he delivered mail from Mac who was often far from home aboard a ship. I wouldn't wait to get inside the house to open the letters that arrived but would rip them open and begin devouring the words right there on the porch before I turned to walk back into the house, mail still clutched in ever tightening fingers. This was my link with someone I loved and missed.

The singing group Alabama had a song out about the rigors of mail delivery that covered the history of America's mail service from the Pony Express right up thru delivery in space. At the time no one had heard of e-mail or even dreamed of it. In the cities I lived in here in the US they were Letter Carriers, in England they were Posties (and walked right in the front door to lay the mail on the entry hall table) and of course collectively they are mostly known as Mailmen, weather they are male or female. I was in awe of our Rural carriers who could sit in the middle of the front seat, drive the car while reaching for the mail bundle at their side as they pulled up to the mailbox without knocking it down. Here in the south we of course know our Postmen by name. In Chesterfield it was at first Scott then it was we have Jimmy. Their cars are personal vehicles with many miles on the odometers. Sometimes we see the familiar mail Jeep, but not often. Don't get me wrong, the job is still hard the hours still long, the roads still rough and it's not one I'd want to take on myself. I had still much rather be the recipient than the deliverer. Do I appreciate our Postal Carriers? You're darned right I's to all the Jimmy's out there, still doing the hard work.

Monday, May 9, 2011

All In the Merry Month of May

I am not sure why it is so, but the month of May is not one of, but my most favorite month of the year. I start looking forward to it in April when the words "April showers bring May flowers" is on every body's lips. It's the month when all the trees are fully clothed, blossoms have pretty much begun to turn to fruit and best of all the Strawberries are in season. I find myself in McBee at least four times during May, headed for the Strawberry stands...(you notice I did not say patch...I'm afraid if I picked my own I would eat far more than I deliver to the shed to be weighed and paid for). May is so lovely and cool in the mornings, you can get your yard work done without suffering heat stroke and so warm in the afternoon that a fit of lazies washes over you like honey from the comb. Sitting on the porch can bring on a case of the dozies for sure, a cat in my lap and a book in my hands, a tall glass of iced tea at my elbow. Even the word "May" gives you a warm feeling...yes you may, mother may I, which puts me in mind of the games we played in childhood that had nothing to do with a game of wii. Mother May I, Red Light Green Light, Red Rover Red Rover and best of all was "Coming to See".

How many of you remember the game of Coming to was a game we played inside and out...we would build little houses under the elm trees at Mammy's house blocking out our little dirt wall bounderies. We'd set up little table and chairs made from stumps and pieces of tree limbs, describe our imaginary curtains to our neighbors who "came to see" us. Our little houses were always close together and extremely visible in our mind's eyes. As cousin Becky described her gingham curtains hanging at her kitchen window, I could see the blue in the check and knew that a white ribbon held them back for the sun to shine in. As cousins Kay and Crystal came to visit me I would proudly point out the new breakfront I had lately installed to hold the dishes that were made of leaf and pebbles in fact, but porcelain in imagination. We played all this under the canopy of Elms next to Mammy's house. But if it was raining, we played just as happily in the three bedrooms upstairs, only we had actual furniture to display, not the gossamer furniture designed and distributed totally from our imaginations.

May 12 is also Mama's birthday. And I remember the Strawberry pie that she made for us with the first batch of strawberries that came into the house. Mama was such a great cook, I don't think she ever made anything that wasn't perfect. For her birthday I'm going to give you a gift from her since she is no longer with us to receive a gift. I'm sure she'd be quite happy with this arrangement. So, here's Mama's recipe for Strawberry Pie. Keep in mind that you can substitute the sugar with any sugar substitute you like. I use Splenda, but whatever you prefer. Happy Birthday, Mama

Mama's Fresh Strawberry Pie

4 cups fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup sugar (or splenda works just as well)

1/2 tsp baking powder

Line a baked pie shell with 2 cups of fresh strawberries and take the remaining 2 cups of berries and cook with the cornstarch blended in with the sugar and baking powder until clear and thick. Pour the cooked berries over the fresh ones after it has cooled. Top with whipped cream. This will be the only Strawberry Pie recipe you'll ever crave!

Monday, May 2, 2011

If it's Spring, can Summer be far behind?

If it's Spring, can Summer be far behind?

I spent my Sunday afternoon doing something I've looked forward to for weeks now. I packed up the winter clothes to banish them to the back room closet for at least six months! Gone are the days of sweaters and scarves, coats and boots, earth tones and dingey grays. I checked each garment carefully for any repairs that may need doing, making sure they were pristine clean for their banishment. The ones who were candidates for the ragbag were tossed carelessly aside, no longer repairable or even wanted. I took down the button tin from the top shelf and prepared to cut the buttons from those ragbag frocks. I remembered Mammy's (my grandmother) button tin, a big old coffee can (Lousianne Coffee with Chicory) which we loved to plunder through as children. She had such beautiful buttons in the depths of that can, they were like minor works of art. I remember her going through the buttons to add to a blouse she or my mother might be making and she would match them in size and color though not in appearance and make a blah blouse a wow blouse. Very innovative, was our Mammy.

So, now the winter things are packed in a box and ready to be put into the back of the closet. Funny how my Spring clothes get hung on the rail, not packed into boxes. It would be like packing the sunshine away to hide those sweet pastels and bright yellows in a box. I drew out the first of them, a warm yellow blouse with soft pale yellow slacks. I pulled it to my face and smelled the lavendar and rosemary sachet that had kept them company all winter and fall. It made me smile. I don't suppose the youth of today think about making their own sachets when they can just go into the nearest store and buy them. Or can they? Do they even know what a sachet is? Do they know how to make that little envelop of linen, stuffing it with dried herbs and spices so to scent your delicates or your closet?

So there I was, bringing out the bright colors and hanging them on my side of the closet and in walks Mac.

"So, whatcha doing?" asks he.

"Packing up the winter stuff, bringing out the summer stuff, " I reply. Oh, I was doing so much more than that. He could never understand.

He looks at his side of the closet, the jeans, the khakis the dress pants and long sleeved shirts mixed with the short sleeved shirts, the belts and ties. He snorts a laugh and wonders aloud why HIS side of the closet never gets the attention that mine does.

"What's the point?" I ask. "You're sort of a guy for all seasons. A one size fits all..." Lets face it, I gave up on getting him to wear bright colors and yes, even pink, years ago. In the long run, his refusal to wear fashion gives me more time to play on my own side of the closet! I'm a selfish wench!