Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Well, it's not an Earthship....

So, I told you I would tell you about this picture. I had a few interesting guesses when I posted the photo on Facebook. But, in this case, fact is so much more amusing than fiction.
We spent this weekend with my in-laws in Bastrop, Louisiana. We drove an hour and a half on a little state highway, through small town southern Arkansas, where outbuildings are better tended than the mobile homes and yards that line the roads. There were stray dogs, old campers in yards, and several residences that left one to wonder if people lived there or it was, in fact, a salvage yard, before finally crossing Bayou Bartholomew into Louisiana and hitting that little gravel road. (for those of you unfamiliar with the rules of grammar, I'm pretty sure that was what you call a "run on sentence")
On day two of our trip Don and I made our way back out to the bayou to see his cousin, Alan. As we approached Alan’s driveway, we notice his neighbor’s home. My husband, the eternal optimist, begins to dance in his seat, convinced that these incredibly cool people are not just redneck Cajuns, but rather redneck Cajuns who have seen the light of the earthship movement and are building a self sustainable home. (feel free to click the linky dink to read about earthships. cool stuff!)
Surrounding this home is a beautiful piece of property. It is well maintained with a garden spot, a field with cows, a very clean chicken yard, rain cisterns and stocked fishing ponds.
It is also a fortress for a family of conspiracy theorists who believe that the US economy will collapse soon and we will find ourselves in the midst of a civil war with every man for himself.
They are also gun dealers who travel the weekly circuit across the country from gun show to gun show.
The little openings along the bottom of the sandbags are so they can lie on the ground and shoot at you as you approach their property. There are even some of those at eye level along the front of the trailer.
It’s really quite creepy if you ask me.
And funny in its own southern way.
And creepy….
And did I mention creepy?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Apple Butter at Grandma's

The last time I saw my grandmother alive was twenty one years ago. No longer the sturdy red haired woman I knew. She was now rail thin, sitting slumped on her sofa watching Young and the Restless. Her once perfectly combed hair was now twisting this way and that upon her head, briefly reminding me of one of those troll dolls with the brightly colored hair that stood on end. A stroke had left this once outspoken woman barely able to speak an intelligible word. I wept inside. 

Twenty one years ago I was eighteen. Today I am thirty nine. 

But, this morning, I was ten and she was as strong as ever and telling me stories over breakfast. I moved the buttermilk biscuits that I had generously smeared with the homemade apple butter my friend Steph gave me for Christmas to the side of my plate. I wanted to save them for last. I wanted to savor them. I wanted to remember.

I watched the melting butter run down the sides of my biscuit as I finished my eggs and sipped my coffee. Finally, I was ready. It seemed as I took the first bite that I was transported back to that little country kitchen. I felt the tingle of cinnamon as the smooth puree of apples silked its way across my tongue. I was ten. I had homemade biscuits and her homemade apple butter. I had my mug of milk, just enough coffee added to make me feel like one of the grown ups as I ate my breakfast. My legs dangled over the side of my chair swinging cheerily in response to the sunshine glittering through her lace curtains, mocking the curls of cigarette smoke that snaked through the beams of light.

I closed my eyes, recalling her voice as she told one of her tall tales. Her boisterous laugh as I ooed and ahhed at her yarns. How we were certainly related to anyone named Hayes in the encyclopedia, that Jesse James was some long lost cousin, that we were all descendants of greatness. No, we weren't always rednecks and drunkards. And, while our own lives were unremarkable, we had tales to tell of glories that were never really ours.

This morning I was ten. This morning was indescribable joy. All because someone gave me apple butter for Christmas.