Friday, October 26, 2012

Folklife Friday: Loafin'

I don't know where the word loafin' comes from, but it is used a lot around my house.  My parents labeled someone who wouldn't work a loafer, so it was a negative word then. They would admonish us to quit our loafin' and get the work done.

 But now, I love loafin'.

Loafin' is spending the day doing whatever you want to, with no promises to keep and no clear direction of where the day will end. For many years, I had to spend my Saturdays doing laundry and cooking and shopping, 'cause it is just not right to go loafin' and have to think about all the things waiting for you to do at home. One of the gifts of getting older is that your children have to do their own cooking and laundry, freeing up time for loafin'.

Last Saturday, my lil' ole sister and I went loafin'. We started knowing we would probably end up in Tupelo, but we didn't care when. I was driving, so anytime I saw something I wanted to get a closer look at, I just stopped the car and did it. We spent most of our time on the Natchez Trace Parkway, which has great beauty and little traffic, and you don't have to drive ninety to keep from getting run over.

Sometimes, we took an unfamiliar road, but that was okay because we had plenty of gas and plenty of daylight.

We attended a fall festival......

Saw Elvis in overalls......

Where he was born........

and the Assembly of God church where he learned to love the Lord and music.

Then we ate lots of pizza.

And we talked and bonded and just enjoyed the time we had together.

It was a beautiful day for loafin'.

  You really should try it sometimes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall Break

It is time for fall break at the beautiful University of North Alabama.

Lazy, autumn days are perfect for napping.  At least, Leo seems to think so.

We are getting to the time in the fall when we know these gorgeous days are numbered.  Be sure, kind friends, to make this one special.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sweet Potato Harvest

The sweet potatoes are being harvested, and there is a good crop this year due to the good rains we had in August and September.  Due to lack of space, we didn't plant any this year, but there is plenty to buy at the Farmer's Market or at the Amish community.

Sweet potatoes produce large, trailing vines that store their energy as golden tubers.  The luscious mats of green over clay are so beautiful, they would be worth growing even if they produced nothing.

I can't remember my parents planting sweet potatoes, but we lived next to an aunt that grew a huge patch of them every year, and I suppose that is where ours came from.  She was known for her ability to grow "slips" or sweet potato plants from a tuber saved from the last year's crop.  One year we were helping her harvest her half-acre patch, and there were bushels and bushels of them.  My cousin had just gotten her senior high school ring, and she lost it that afternoon among all those sweet potatoes.  Several people searched for hours, pouring those sweet potatoes from one bushel basket to another until that ring was found.  We proclaimed it a miracle akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

Sweet potatoes have kept countless generations of people from going hungry.  They can be baked whole in ovens or on hot fireplace coals, mashed and fried and made into casseroles that show up on my table for every holiday meal.  Sometimes, you can even make biscuits from them!;postID=4764346285438297433

And what's not to love about a vegetable that can be made into a pie?

Genesis 1:11

Monday, October 15, 2012

Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile scenic route from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee.

Fortunately for me, a tiny bit of it runs across Northwest Alabama.  I have traveled the entire 444 miles, although not on the same day.  You don't have to go but a few miles from where I live to get on the Trace.  Sometimes, it hard to decide whether to go North or South; it is beautiful both ways.

On Saturday, my car turned north and went all the way to the Meriwether Lewis Park to the annual arts and crafts show.

It took a while to get there with all the stops I made along the way.

It was a good show, but all I bought was a huge bag of kettle corn that I am still munching on.  The best thing about it was that I ran into my lil' ole sister.  I guess it is a small world after all.

Think I'll turn south next weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Folklife Friday: Picking Cotton

The fields are white, literally white, in our area of the country now.

The farmers here plant cotton every year.  Some years, they earn enough to make them want to plant more.  Other years, they curse the day they put the seed in the ground.

My parents raised cotton until I was a teenager.  I remember going to the field to help pick cotton, although I'm sure my contribution would not have been missed.  I did learn a lot, however, about dirt and desire and delusions and disappointments and dreams.

Modern stories tend to romanticize cotton picking.  Obviously, the tellers of these stories never knew how one's back would threaten to come apart from the strain of bending over and pulling a heavy pick sack all day long.  Or, how the day would start out cool, with dew wet leaves that made the  cotton fiber stick to your hands, especially in the raw areas where the sharp cotton boles had taken the skin. Or, how the noonday sun burned the back of your neck and caused the heavy straps of the pick sacks to become wet against your shoulders.

Those nostalgic stories don't often recall my mama picking cotton all day, stopping to nurse the baby when needed, and making sure the little ones stayed safe on the old quilt spread in the shade at the end of the cotton rows.  A thousand miles she went, back and forth, down one row and up another, filling that nine foot long sack to capacity several times a day.  After sundown evicted us from the field, Mama still had to cook our supper, with no microwave oven,  and do the other work that keeps a family together.  I'm wondering if there are any women of her stamina alive today. 

Daddy stopped planting cotton about the same time that mechanical cotton pickers were introduced to our area.  It was unbelievable to us, this concept that people would no longer pick cotton.  Thank God and International Harvester, it happened.  We love our 100% cotton clothes and towels and sweet sheets to sleep on, and I'm thankful that I don't have to pick my own cotton to enjoy these things.

I pray I will never forget the people whose DNA lives in me, strong people who struggled to make a better life for their children.  We need to teach our children, and teach them well, how those shadows of the past have sweated to shape this comfortable world we live in today.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Shall We Mourn?

Our life is shorter than flowers

                                                   Then shall we mourn?

NO, we shall dance

Plant gardens

                                               dress in colors

And teach our children to make the world more beautiful

because our life is shorter than flowers.   ~Toltec Fragment