Monthly Archives: June 2020

A Bit of Fiction

brown wooden swing

Photo by Pille Kirsi on Pexels.com

They knew it would be their last weekend as six sisters in the old solid frame house on the hill because they were putting the house on the market. What they didn’t know was how fraught with adventure the weekend would be. They intended it to be restful, calm, peaceful. That’s not exactly what happened.

Chloe was years younger than her five sisters–Grace, Sylvia, Tanya, Rosemary and Becky. Chloe was the one who helped Papa outdoors with the cows, worked in the orchard, and even hunted rabbits or whatever he asked. She was never happier than when following him around. All her sisters married, got jobs, and scattered from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Chloe and her husband still lived in Towns County, Georgia. She had taken care of their parents until their deaths and, since then, had faithfully cared for the old house and its treasure trove of unique antiques.

Though Grace had instigated this meeting, Chloe had cleaned and made preparations and she had the key. She and Grace had decided to make this a fun weekend. They would not start worrying about what to do with the furniture until Monday.

While Chloe unlocked the door, her sisters surveyed the yard where they had played and worked and met boyfriends for dates and learned how to drive. There, under that big oak tree Sylvia had shared her first kiss. Over near the now overgrown privet hedge Becky, so little at the time, had sat squarely down on a yellow jackets’ nest.

“That old swing is still there,” mused Grace. “How old would that thing be?”

“I don’t know. I just wonder how it even survived all of us and then grandchildren too,” responded Sylvia adjusting a shoulder bag.

“It didn’t survive,” said Chloe, finally opening the door. She stood in the doorway and held up one hand as if stopping traffic. “Don’t try that swing. The rope is rotten. And–just so you’ll know–things are not all good in the old house either. I made up beds for all of us but–”

“Quit stalling, Chloe. Let’s go in and see for ourselves.” Grace pushed past her.

Chloe lifted her hands and dropped them, at the same time rolling her eyes. “Oh, well–”

Regardless of Chloe’s warning, the sisters saw nothing surprising. It had been five years since most of them had been in the house so of course things weren’t quite the same. But there was the graceful Duncan Phyfe sofa of which Mama was so proud and the worn Persian rug Papa had bought overseas. Papa’s old plantation desk still reigned in its same corner and there, of course, were the many folding chairs neatly stacked against the wall ready for the next family gathering. A moment of wistful quiet settled on the group as they thought about their happy dinners around the long pine table.

Sylvia broke the spell. “Everything looks sort of shabby but it’s okay. Tell me you did find a bed steady enough for each of us. I’m too old to¬†survive my bed collapsing in the night.”

They all giggled.

Chloe crossed arms over her chest. “The beds are okay,” she said with the tiniest spark gleaming in her eyes. “That’s not what I was–”

“Oh, Chloe, for heaven’s sake,” Becky said. “Just show us our beds. I’m tired of hauling this luggage. And look at poor Sylvia, she’s got luggage all over her, as always.”

They all trooped up the stairs chattering as they went. Rosemary was in front and called back to Chloe, “You must have used a whole gallon of Clorox getting ready for us. It smells like a swimming pool.”

“I was trying to cover up–” began Chloe but no one was listening.

Sylvia discovered the first sign of imminent danger when she entered the bedroom she and Grace had always shared. Her scream could have scared the wildcats on Brasstown Bald Mountain. “A snake skin! A snake’s been on my bed! Oh my gosh, what if he’s still here?” She backed up banging into a heavy rocking chair. Her sisters spluttered with laughter.

“Chloe, that was a mean trick to pull on us,” admonished Grace proceeding to remove the very long threatening skin holding it out from her body with two fingers. “But don’t worry, Sylvie, even if it really had been here, it was only a white oak snake. I think.”

They were all seated around the long pine table with their array of take-outs from Chick-Fil-A when Grace herself stood up knocking her soda over. Her face had turned red and she was garbling as she pointed. When they all saw five feet of grey snake slithering from Papa’s desk and disappearing under the couch they went into spasms. Should they call animal control? Should they sleep in a motel?

It took several minutes for Chloe to make the sisters agree to stay. “They moved in about a year ago,” she explained calmly when a semblance of order was finally restored. “I’ve tried my best to get rid of them.”

“Them!” was the outcry. “How many are you talking about?”

“Oh, maybe three. Really, I did try to drive them out. But they kept coming back. I guess I stopped trying when I realized they were annihilating the rodent population. There hasn’t been a rat’s nest in the sofa for months.”

“You’re not funny, Chloe,” said Rosemary catching her breath. “I’m sure I won’t rest a minute tonight. In fact, maybe I just won’t go to bed.”

But once the sisters got their voices back, they found many things to talk about other than the grey snake. They all talked until the wee hours, then fell into bed forgetting all about the serpentine invaders. The next day was beautiful. They went to Vogel State Park for a picnic as in the old days. They laughed and cried over old photos, wandered around in the yard, and even explored the old orchard. They found Papa’s Bible in his desk with his many notes and underlinings. They made spaghetti for supper and then built a fire in the fireplace so they could roast marshmallows.

They were almost asleep when they heard a growling guttural motor, a truck of some kind, climbing the hill. Lights flashed across western windows before the truck stopped. The women all fled to Grace and Sylvia’s room. Men’s voices, several men’s voices, could be heard.

“Who?” they all asked looking at Chloe.

Chloe was as shaken as the rest of them but she tried to brighten. “I don’t know who it could be–but, hey, they’ll never get in that door. Even with a key it’s tricky–”

“Wanta bet?” breathed Rosemary. “I hear them clomping in the back way. Don’t anybody dare turn the light on. And keep quiet.”

Chloe wished she had brought one of Papa’s guns upstairs but who would’ve thought–

The men were below now, making plans in loud voices. “We’ll load every bit of this into the truck. These pieces will bring a pretty price in North Carolina. No need to grab the folding chairs, nothing special about them. Okay, start loading!”

Papa’s desk made a horrible scraping sound as they slid it from its corner. Then the sisters shuddered at the sound of a man screaming like a tortured mountain lion. “Snakes!” he yelled. He must have knocked another man down trying to get away. The leader was barking at his men not to be such fools until, by the sounds of it, a large snake dropped from above right onto his shoulders. “They’re coming down from the ceiling! There’s another one–over there, going under the couch!”

Next thing the sisters knew, the truck was roaring away.

“I told you those snakes were good for something,” said Chloe before they all burst into nervous laughter.

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Peaches in Barney

2018-07-07

Stopping at one of the open markets in Barney, Georgia (east of Thomasville), is really fun, especially now that peaches are ripe. You will find other delightful produce as well: cantaloupe, corn right from the field, sun ripened tomatoes with a taste like none other, Vidalia onions, wonderful watermelons, and crook-neck yellow squash. You may also browse through attractive displays of pickles, jellies, and sauces. The oddest one, I thought, was the whiskey barbecue sauce.

Choosing vegetables and fruits is better (well, almost) than a Christmas shopping spree, but it can be tiring. So when you need to rest a bit and enjoy some refreshment, buy a cup or cone of fresh peach or blueberry ice cream and sit at a table under a cooling fan (social distance honored), or settle at a table out under a big pecan tree. Beautiful hibiscus and bougainvillea are a feast for your eyes at Luck and Moody market as you enjoy your ice cream right down to the last lick. Or just a short way down the road, at Burton Brooks Market, you can shop and then walk about eating ice cream while taking in details of several antique cars.

On past the markets heading east you will find the orchards. Burton Brooks owns acres, rows on rows, of peach trees. I was reminded of the peach orchards in north Georgia where Daddy used to buy several bushels at a time for our family to “put up” for winter.

Peach days were full and wonderful. When else would our whole family sit in a circle and play guessing games all day? Mamma was in the kitchen sweating over the hot cookstove, along with one of my older sisters, canning dozens of jars of bright, beautiful fruit. The rest of us from the littlest up were peeling and paring peaches. Daddy stored the peaches in the cool cellar and brought buckets of the ripe ones to us as he sorted them. He sometimes entered into our games and chatter and was always coaching us on peeling thin so as not to lose any of the goodness.

We made up riddles, the sillier the better, recited poetry, and told jokes. Sometimes someone was chosen as a reader so we could all listen to a book like “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain. The games? Initials was our favorite. We would guess initials of famous writers, artists, politicians and inventors, as well as those of local friends and leaders. The field was wide open for choices and the rules simple with questions requiring only a “yes” or a “no.” Another game was to see who could answer more quickly naming capitals of countries, US states, and books of the Bible. Or someone would make a challenge and the race was on to see who could peel the most peaches in a given time, who could peel the longest peeling, or even who could peel the shortest one. That last one was intended, I think, to give us younger ones a chance to win.

Mamma made sure we wore our oldest, most dilapidated clothes on Peach Day because peach stains are not beautiful like the fruit itself. Therefore, we were a real rag-tag bunch. But it didn’t matter since no one would see us. But one day friends from Brunswick, Georgia arrived unexpectedly. Mamma was so humiliated! I think she went right to work making one of her scrumptious deep dish peach cobblers trying to make amends for our appearance.

The peaches we usually worked with were called Elbertas but maybe once in the late summer Daddy might bring home a bushel of Georgia Belles. I loved slicing one of those in half so I could see the snow white flesh in such beautiful contrast to the bright red crater left when I popped the pit out. I failed to ask what variety we bought in Barney. I was so excited to get peaches of any kind. But I was told that right now clings are the only ones ripe, the freestones ripening later in the summer.

Hold a peach in your hand. Feel its velvety fuzz. Contemplate the varying shades of red with touches, even swatches, of gold and look at the shape with its charming cleft on one side. Put it to your nose and smell the rich enticing scent that makes you feel the warmth of remembered good things. And, finally, peel that peach and begin slicing fruit away from that fascinating grooved pit. Let the juice drizzle between your fingers. The fruit is golden with blending shades of red glistening with moisture. You won’t be able to resist popping a juicy morsel into your mouth!

Charles and I enjoyed sharing peaches from Barney with friends. Then we sat on our back porch peeling peaches while we told family stories and made up a few jokes. We froze some, ate a lot, and made a pie. Making a peach cobbler is pure joy. There’s one thing better, though. That’s eating it! Mmmmmm!

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Do You Run?

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Jared Evans and wife Amanda at a Republican forum in February

The following story is true, though I may have missed a few details. My grandson-in-law, Jared Evans, who is running for sheriff of Grady County, told it to me.

Here it is:

Jared was working at his family’s business (Cairo Paint and Body) one morning when a man came running up totally out of breath. “Give me a ride,” he gasped.

Jared asked where he was trying to go.

“Anywhere,” the man huffed, “just anywhere.”

Jared, who has been in law enforcement for many years, began to smell something fishy. “What is your hurry?” he asked.

“I’m running from the sheriff, man, just get me out of here.”

By this time, Jared could see deputies turning in the driveway. Getting a firm grasp on the man, Jared said “I’m a policeman. You’ve come to the right place.”

It seems this man has been running from the law twenty years for having set fire to a church in Tallahassee. The sad “rest of the story” is that, because of Covid-19, the man could not be extradited back to Florida and now is working in Grady County.

The moral of the story? Be careful to whom you run.

VOTE  JARED EVANS FOR GRADY COUNTY SHERIFF

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