Beautiful grey morning. Almost as though I have stepped back , to the time when I was I was a little girl again. In that old pickup truck with my faded jeans, and boots. I have them on today. Daddy is here to take me to the farmer’s market. It’s been so long since we went for a drive, I am so happy to be out with one of my favorite people. There’s coffee , black, and the vendors all know Daddy by name. Mr. Deer, what can we get for ya’ today? Daddy wants White Globe peaches from Mr. Jamison’s , where he used to work when he was a boy, and a Black Diamond watermelon, from the man who’s wife works at the factory where Daddy retired after 28 years. There’s some homemade soap, the kind that Daddy used to use in the No. 10 washtub to clean up. The kind that he says , “If ya’ ain’t careful, that’ll wash the hide right off of ya’. ” We leave with our goodies, and he takes me home “the long way”, my favorite saying, meaning , he’s going to show me a new way to go home, on some country backroads, with houses and people he knows and stories to go along with them. In between , I am surprised. Daddy gives me a $20 and lets me get fried pies and a Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle from the Center Point grocery. I sip its sweet coldness and listen to him spin a yarn about how it’s never a good thing to start a fight, but ALWAYS a good thing to finish one. I am 35 , but 15 all at once, and time has flown both forward and back in ways I can’t explain. It is magic caught up in the smell of peaches, black coffee, homemade soap, and cherry pie, and I am altogether the luckiest girl in the whole wide world.
FaceBook’s an interesting place these days. It’s funny because you can start a conversation with just one sentence and 5 minutes later literally people from all over the world are joining in with their opinions on what got said. Here in Arkansas we just recently wrapped up deer season . We live in LA ( Lower Arkansas) 🙂 and hunting and fishing is a way of life for a large majority of people here. In my family it goes back so many generations it is even traced in our family’s surnames. My maiden name WAS DEER. My husband’s name is WOODS. So quite literally it is in our blood. When I was barely big enough to walk my Daddy would put me in a sleeping bag and tote me into the woods, , prop me up against a tree, and let me sleep while he waited for the deer or squirrel to come by. I didn’t realize at the time , we didn’t just do this for fun, we ate wild meat like rabbit, deer, squirrel, because it was cheap, and we were not just the richest people in the world. The funny thing is we ate so well we never noticed. But back to FaceBook. We got into a conversation about the “RIGHT” way to prepare deer meat. Practically everyone said you must, you just simply MUST skin and soak the deer meat in ice and salt water for several days before pounding it tender and thin and cooking it. Well, my husband , myself and my family had NEVER heard of such a thing! My husband can clean and skin a deer faster than just about any person I’ve ever seen . He makes those fellas in the butcher shops look like amateurs, lol. But he’s had lots of practice. When he gets a deer and hangs it to butcher , he skins it, and quarters up the tenderloins . Then I’m cutting it up in the kitchen , pounding it flat, salting and peppering it, putting a little flour on it, and frying it thin and crispy . Pour a little milk, flour, and salt back in the pan, and stir. Making the thickest creamiest white gravy you ‘ve ever seen. Just the way my Daddy used to do it. So not only does it taste out of this world, to eat it reminds me of sitting next to that old oak in my sleeping bag, waiting for Daddy to say, “I got one. We can go now.” So many memories. Food for thought. Food for the body. Food for my soul.
It’s getting to be that time of the year again. The time of year when reasonably sane people lose all sense of power over their own mind and wallets. When they turn into people pushing , cart running over, that last item in the aisle is mine rabid 2 am Black Friday shoppers. Yep. It’s the holidays. I used to love the holidays. I used to love Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving because, it meant my Daddy was home, and he helped my mom make turkey and dressing. We watched the parade, and my sister and I ironed our clothes for our churches youth convention which was the day after Thanksgiving. Dinner was family gathered around the table , and then groaning on the sofa because you ate too much while watching television. After everyone napped for a couple of hours we went out in Daddy’s old pickup to look for the perfect Christmas tree. Daddy knew all the best places to look , so we got all bundled up , took the old chain saw and headed out . A cedar tree was usually perfect, , but a pine tree would work if you couldn’t find one. Short, tall , round , oval, we had to find the exact one that would fit in the space in the living room , and Daddy was patient always. Then we sawed down , and hauled home our perfect prize. To be decorated with popcorn strings, and paper rings. Homemade stars, an gingerbread men. Candies and shapes cut from last year’s Christmas cards. The big bulb primary colored lights, and of course loads and loads of tinsel. So Thanksgiving wasn’t about shopping ,and when Christmas rolled around it wasn’t about spending the most money on gifts either . It wasn’t about people’s personalities changing into these horrible troll like monsters with Wal mart buggies determined to run over anyone in their way. Christmas was getting new pajamas , and slippers. Receiving a warm sweater, and a cassette tape of Christmas music. Christmas was going to the elderly neighbors and giving them the gifts we had bought them , always handkercheifs for him , and leather gloves for her. He was a carpenter so he hand built us a wooden gift each year. A dollhouse, a wagon with blocks, a jewelry box, a checker set, wind up helicopters, boats, amazing things! His sweet wife always made some wonderfully tasty treat on her wood cooking stove, peanut brittle, fudge, chocolate chip cookies , divinity candy, all made to melt in your mouth. THAT was Christmas. Not all this shopping. Hurrying to and fro. A party every other weekend. So called “friends” inviting you to an event every night for the holidays. NO time for the family at all. I don’t want my children to remember Christmas by the gifts they received, but by the memories they made, and maybe, just maybe, the holidays will be their favorite time of year too.