Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Fruits of My Roots

I'm back from my trip to market. It's always fun to go and see what's new and coming in the retail world, but it's also nice to get back home to the quieter roads of Mississippi after a few days in Atlanta traffic. It's good to be back home, where the peas and butter beans have come in, the watermelons are ripe, and the corn is ready to pull.

I've put up 29 bags of peas in the last couple of days. I was in the kitchen, late last night, blanching and bagging and feeling as close to a Proverbs 31 wife as I'll probably ever feel. I don't select much wool or flax, make coverings for my bed, and certainly never get up while it's still night, but, for a moment, I felt like I may have slightly grazed verse 14...."She is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar." I guess that would make me the Proverbs 31:14-ish wife.

Putting up peas reminds me of my Grandmother's house. She and Granddaddy always had a big garden and whenever we visited them in the summer, it was all hands on deck. Granddaddy would spread out the peas he'd picked on a bedsheet inside, where they'd stay cool until they were shelled. After lunch, we'd all head out to the front porch to swing and rock....everyone coming with some sort of vessel full of peas to shell. A roasting pan, dish pan, large mixing bowls, or an empty ice cream bucket. Whatever Grandmother could come up with to get everybody in the game. We'd rock and swing and talk and shell. Waving at the cars as they passed by and discussing the possibility of rain. Sipping on a jelly glass full of Grandmother's sweet tea. Listening to the hum of the window air conditioner running inside and the occasional bobwhite in the distance. If you were lucky, there was a pot of peanuts boiling on the stove to snack on between pans of peas. I know it sounds like a hokey, stereotypical scene from a movie set in the South....you know the ones where people sit around sweating through their clothes and rocking all day...….but it's really how it was. Well, maybe minus the heavy sweating part. We'd just shell and shell until our thumbnails were sore and looked to be irreversibly stained green.

I'll never forget the sight of my Grandmother standing at her porcelain sink in her floral print duster cutting corn off the cob. Her hair would be wet with sweat as she'd stand there working for hours....ear after ear after ear. I don't know much about putting up creamed corn, but I do know you have to work an awfully long time to fill just one quart bag. Whenever she served that creamed corn, I thought about her at the sink and was always sure never to leave even one uneaten morsel. That was just pure love on that plate and I seemed to realize that even at an early age.

They grew potatoes, tomatoes, peas, corn, muscadines, squash, pears, watermelon, pecans, and I'm sure there's a lot that I'm forgetting. They raised cows and always had eggs from their chickens in the frig. Granddaddy had bee hives and dozens of honey jars to compliment Grandmother's biscuits. He stayed many-a-long hour out in the hot sun, working the garden, picking the harvest in the Mississippi humidity, and then passing it off to Grandmother for her leg of the process, which wasn't a bit easier. The result was that their house was a place, where your mouth would start to water as soon as you pulled up in their driveway. It was like it knew it was about to get something extra good. And I don't think our family ever left there without our car loaded with the fruits of their labor. They always wanted to share what they'd worked so hard for because that was who they were.

Davis planted a garden, this year, but the deer kept getting into his fence and eventually made it the all-you-can-eat veggie buffet. After work, he just didn't have enough time to tend to the deer problem. So, I bought shelled peas from the fruit stand yesterday....but I'm hoping it'll still qualify as "bringing her food from afar." There was no harvesting in the sun or shelling for hours or sweating at the sink. No, just a minimal amount of time spent blanching and bagging in the AC while watching TV. I guess you could say that Davis and I are no Grandmother and Granddaddy.

But, it did make me think about my Grandmother a lot. And what I wouldn't do to spend another day like those summer ones at her house. To put my feet under her table just one more time and eat some of those vegetables with a pone of her cornbread.

As far as the Proverbs 31 wife goes, well, she was the real thing.

She was all the verses.

And I miss her every day.
Sweet memories of time spent at their house.
                  Y'all have a good one!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Home Sweet Home

Carson got in from his trip, last Saturday around 5:00. I didn't really have much to do that day, so I spent most of it getting ready for his arrival. I found myself cleaning, doing laundry, putting clean sheets on his bed, and doing some meal prep for his homecoming dinner.....none of which he'd notice or care about except the food part. He'd been eating out for eight days and I knew he'd be ready for some home cooking. He's a pork chop kind of guy, so I had bought some of those, gotten some fresh squash from the farmer's market, (because he likes fried squash) and thought I'd make some homemade mashed potatoes and a couple of other fresh veggies. We'd top the meal off with one of his favorites, apple turnovers and ice cream, and I had all of that ready to cook at the appropriate time. When I knew they were getting close, I turned on his fan and bedside lamp just like he likes it and placed all of his accumulated mail on his bed.  

I've always done that. Whenever one of the kids was coming home from a trip or college or wherever, I'd always want everything to be so nice when they got here. When I know that Blair and John Samuel are coming for the weekend, I always ask, early in the week, what they'd like to eat while they're here. I try to have the house all clean and the lamps on in their bedroom as I just think lamplight makes a room feel more inviting. I turn on the fragrance warmers and have a dessert in the oven that makes the house smell good and put out fresh towels on their side of the bathroom with fragrant soaps. I turn the tv to one of the music channels for a soothing background for our much anticipated conversations. Since they usually travel after they get off of work, they don't get here until close to 8:00, so I try to time the food so that it's coming out of the oven as they drive up, because I know they'll be really hungry.

On Saturday, when I was mopping and dusting and waiting on Carson to text me to come and pick him up, I thought about why I was doing all of that. Why do I always want the house to be clean and smelling good with their favorite foods in the oven and their sheets fresh and crisp? I thought about it and I guess it's because, well, I love them and when they come home from being away from me and I know they're weary and drained, I want their souls to step over our threshold and exhale....feeling as if they've arrived at a warm, most comfortable place to rest and be loved. Whether they've had tough exams, a hard week at work, or are weary from travel, I want them to find an oasis of their favorite things and the comfort of the familiar here. In this world that's so unpredictable, I want this to be a place they can always count on to give them encouragement, joy, laughter, and the warmth of their parents' love.

One of our neighbors passed away yesterday. He was a father and husband- just a couple of years older than Davis. He'd been fighting cancer. I didn't know him very well, but I did know that he was a Christian. A couple of his kids are our kids' ages and the news of his death had me thinking about those preparations I make for our children's homecomings. I thought how it must be kind of like God preparing Heaven for us. He said He's gone to prepare a place for us. He's making arrangements for our arrival. Like a parent welcoming a child home, who's been away. He's gathering all the things we'll love....unspeakable wonders, unimaginable sights, incomprehensible beauty, the souls we've loved and lost, and His glorious presence ...and He's getting everything ready for our homecoming. With love in every little detail.

I think about all the love that goes into the prep for the modest welcomes we have here in our home. How I want everything to be a perfect blend for their senses when they open the door. I can't imagine how much more God wants for us as His children knowing how battered and bruised a trip around this sinful world can leave us when we arrive at His doorstep. I don't claim to understand everything there is to know about Heaven, but I do know enough to believe that our tired and weary souls will take a deep breath when we get there. At Heaven's threshold, we'll find that place where we are, at last, completely at rest. And we can finally exhale in the presence of our Savior.

Until then, we share that hope.   

"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going."

"No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."  John 14:1-6