Friday, July 11, 2008

Bountiful Harvest

There is just something so good about the taste of a vine-ripened, freshly picked and washed, perfectly formed tomato that will make me ooh, ahhh, and moan so loudly that the neighbors wonder what I'm up to.

I've been back to the old deep, deep south homestead this week, and one of the pleasures of going home, other than seeing my sweet Mommy, of course, is the bounty that the backyard garden holds. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, lima beans, cantaloupe, okra, eggplant, watermelon, zucchini, and other goodies are all waiting to be picked just 20 yards from the back door.

As a kid growing up here, the first thing we did each sumer morning was to go see what was ready to harvest in the garden. Usually whatever landed in the harvest basket in the morning was on the dining table at lunch or dinner.

When the corn came in, everybody got busy. My father and brother picked it, I shucked and silked it, my grandmother cut it off the cobb, and my Mom prepared it for "canning." Even though we actually froze the corn in quart bags, we called it canning.

Canning is a big thing down south. Over the course of the summer we would put up (can) about 100 bags of corn, 30 quart jars of green beans, 100 pints of tomatoes, and I haven't a clue how many bags of butter beans, and purple hull peas. Those canned vegetables would bring back summer memories during the cold winter. I especially loved the way the tomatoes tasted in a bowl of hot vegetable soup. Yummy.

Well, this week, I've become spoiled again to the wonder that is the summer garden. We've had fresh vegetables for lunch or dinner every day this week. And folks, there ain't a store bought tomato on earth that tastes like one fresh out of the garden.

The family visit has been wonderful... and the veggies too. But, it's also sad to come home. My little hometown has changed so much. There's not a thing for young people to do here. Crime is ridiculous.

I drive down the streets that I once traversed on my bicycle and think that if I lived here again, there's no way I'd feel comfortable letting my children ride their bikes so carefree like I did.

The county school boards up their windows over the summer because of vandalism.

Five churches have been broken into and musical equipment has been stolen.

There was a shooting down the street and around the corner from where my sweet Mama lives.

When I went to buy milk this evening at the corner convenience store, I saw a drug deal in progress.

And yet, when I walked in the store, three people that I haven't seen in 25 years knew exactly who I was and greeted me by my first name. I had no clue who they were.

Oddly enough, with all the crime, and all the sad reminders that this town isn't the same anymore, it's still home. Cause just after I was greeted by name, the question was asked, "How's yo Momma? You tell her to call me if she needs sumthin.'"

And, they mean it.

And that, my friends, is why I will ALWAYS be a southern girl.



Anonymous said...

well u must not be this far south. Had you been the question surely would have been "hows ya mamma'n 'em?
I have everything you named in the garden right now.
I am definately with you on the pleaasure of eating home grown. I'm sure they also do the same things the bride does. Pickle and make jelly out of most anything.

You sure you weren't in my garden????????

southernfemme said...

Ha! I've heard those words before.

As for your garden, unless yours has a scarecrow wearing my old clothes, I don't think I was tiptoeing through your veggies.

Anonymous said...

so you woulnd't get nekkid in my garden????


Tall Man Molly said...

People remember you like that back where I am from also. I don't think I would let my kids loose on a bike either.