Listening to a friend talk about green beans fresh from her garden took me back. Back to summers long since forgotten.
Summers in my parents garden. There were fresh green beans, tomatoes , potatoes, peas, corn, and of course GREENS! They owned it but they had this sharing spirit. Anyone could come pick vegetables. All you had to do was ask. Then there were apple trees, pear trees, a plum tree, and a grape vine. Homegrown. That's why none of us can duplicate Mother's cooking. It was fresh and homegrown. Even a lot of the meat came from homegrown cattle and hogs. Now I'm trying to get back to local and organic. I guess I'm going back to my roots.
Every summer my parents would go to the peach orchards of Pope and Johnson counties in Arkansas. I can still smell and taste the freshly picked peaches, peeled with a pocket knife and slipped to me through a lowered car window or baked in huge cobbler. Mother had a huge pan with a lid that probably came from a steam table. It would still be warm when she served it. If you were lucky, she had made a freezer of homemade ice cream! Yes, the three of us fought over the dash. (The dash is the thing in the freezer that mixes the ice cream. It's removed at then end and of course it's covered with ice cream!)
Those were summers of cousins visiting, homecoming celebrations with barbecue and fried fish, and family reunions with family we hadn't seen since the last reunion or funeral. Those were summers full of family, friends, laughter, and food.
Oh and I can't forget the Congress (of Christian Education). The yearly church meeting for Christian instruction. It was so good to see all of your friends. We always got in trouble for something, usually minor. If a certain adult saw you with gum, she would pass one of those funeral home fans around the choir and everyone had to deposit their gum on it. Now that is an appetizing site!
There was church camp and band camp. Church camp at Camp Heart of the Hills. There we were in the middle of the Ouachita National Forest aka the middle of nowhere having a blast, singing, praying, swimming, hiking, eating Now-Laters, and providing laughter and a few headaches for my pastor and my mom's friends who were counselors.
Band camp was close to home but still fun. Once again there were more friends from all over the state. Learning was truly fun. Did you know I was never a majorette but I could still twirl a baton? I don't think I ever broke anything....
There were those dusty roads in "The Bend". The Bend is Happy Bend. My house wasn't there but when you dad pastors a church for longer that you have been on this earth it is home. First, The Bend was a place where you were taught to love the Lord. You weren't taught that from lip service either. We had living examples. It was a place were kids were raised to respect their elders. It was a place where everyone was your parent. It was a place where kids were taught hard work. It was a place were you could sleep at the foot of the bed and enjoy laughing about it as an adult. There people had large families and weren't on TV. It was just life. It was a place where you could chase fireflies, ride horses or just walk "the lane" and fight the wasps for the berries growing along the side of the road. Playing, giggling, dreaming girls enjoying their summer without a care in the world. It was a place where you didn't know you were poor because you weren't!
Part 2 coming soon.......