Spring breezed through the kitchen today when husband John Pitts politely wondered if perhaps I might possibly scramble him some eggs to fortify him for his wintry trek to work this morning. (I actually cook — I mean turn-the-oven-on-and-cause-pots-and-pans-to-become-dirty cook — about once a week and he’s always careful to use this one opportunity thoughtfully.) He had told me a couple of days earlier that he had brought some farm-fresh eggs home from his office and, as with most cooking-related topics, I nodded and said “Oh, that’s nice” while at the same time wondering if I could sneak yet another Amazon box past him and if it was Annalise or Frank (or maybe BOTH of them???) who killed Rebecca. You know — important stuff. But this morning, with ice creaking outside and gray snowy light filtering in and SCHOOL CANCELLED YET AGAIN, I was more than happy to do the wifely thing and cook my husband some food. And I’m glad I did, because when I opened this box of real honest-to-goodness eggs from honest-to-goodness chickens who walk around on the honest-to-goodness ground as nature intended, it was as if we time-traveled to the middle of April, with sunshine and flowers and butterflies and all things spring. Thanks, nature. We needed that.
I drive by this store in Tuscumbia, Alabama, at least twice a day. It’s a discount/closeout/salvage type of retailer that has all sorts of bargains to browse through. Plus, since it’s gotten warmer, the owners have put this patio furniture outside in an fenced-in area right beside the highway. For weeks as I’ve driven past, I’ve glanced over and thought to myself, “Oh, that’s so nice that they’ve put signs on their furniture warning folks that it’s ‘hot wood’ so they don’t touch it or sit down and maybe hurt themselves.” Yeah, I know, I know — but how else to explain signs that say “Hot Wood”? I suddenly one day realized, of course, that the signs actually say “Not Wood” instead of “Hot Wood” and are advertising furniture made out of sturdy wood-like plastic. Sort of reminds me of the sign in Huntsville, Alabama, that I mistook for a neighborly invitation to “Drink Locally” when I was really being asked to “Bank Locally” — although I’m a big fan of both. But surely your first thought when you saw the furniture photo was “Hot,” too. Right? Please??? A little help here??? And in more drive-by double-takes, my Dear Husband was the one who first spotted this John Deere tractor parked in the car lot of a dealership in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “You’ve got to go take a picture of it,” he said. “I’ve never seen a tractor for sale at a car dealership.” So I checked it out, and he was right: The sight of a farm tractor parked in the midst of mini-vans for sale is a bit jarring. I mean, did somebody trade the tractor for a car? Would people wandering through the lot looking at the latest sedan models suddenly decide they wanted a tractor instead? Or maybe are tractors now the new family vehicle and we’re at the beginning of a surprising new trend? I’ll keep you posted. In any case, I love living someplace where cars and tractors happily co-exist.
I know. It’s not my usual Saturday shopping stop, but when there’s only one retailer for miles around, what are you gonna do? I was in Elkmont, Alabama, headed for a cheese-making class at Humble Heart Farms — http://humbleheartfarms.com/ — when the hay bale in front of the Saddle Rack Farm & Pet Supply beckoned me. Actually, it was the llamas, roosters and other assorted animals in the front fenced-off area near the highway that grabbed my attention, but sadly they wouldn’t cooperate for photos so I only can promise you that they were there. I love poking around feed and farm stores — my love for Rural King, the farm/home store found mainly in Illinois and Indiana, is well documented. Something about hanging out with bins of seeds and samples of fencing reminds me of when I was little and I’d go places with my dad. We didn’t have a farm (although he has a nursery now) so I’m not sure why I associate feed stores with him. But he did sell John Deere industrial tractors and for years we had a vegetable garden, so mud, dirt and dust were familiar parts of my childhood. But we never had a hay bale in a front yard. My dear husband, on the other hand, did grow up on a farm and so probably is not as fascinated with feed stores as I am.
I don’t know what time it is in your part of the world, but here in northwest Alabama/northeast Mississippi/southern middle Tennessee, it’s cotton-picking time. Cotton is a top crop in Alabama, and the counties in my corner of the state are among the top producers state-wide. (I looked that up at www.alfafarmers.org just to impress you all with my knowledge.) Cotton’s history in the South is a long and at times not an honorable one, but people all over — white, black, rich, poor — still have memories of back-breaking work in late-fall heat. I remember my maternal grandfather reluctantly sharing his less-than-happy cotton-picking experiences as a boy growing up near Jackson, Mississippi. Today, it’s pretty much huge machines that do the work, from what I can tell. And while it’s true that I know next to nothing about the cotton industry, I do think it’s encouraging that in our wireless nano-techno get-it-done yesterday world, sometime’s it still as simple as putting seeds in the ground … and hoping for the best.
It’s cotton-picking time in northwest Alabama. When we first moved here 13 years ago from middle Tennessee, my young daughters thought the cotton looked like snow on the fields this time of year — and I still think that! Farmers are in the midst of harvest right now, so the rest of us share the roads with hardworking traveling tractors and escaped flying cotton strands. Of course, everything’s all computerized and digitized in 2008, but many people who grew up country around here still remember picking by hand. I love driving by a mechanically harvested field with folks who know from experience
where the phrase “in high cotton”* comes from. They shake their heads and say in that “back-in-my-day” tone of voice, “Daddy would never have allowed us to leave the fields with so much cotton like that.”
But I love living someplace where tractors and cotton and dirt and gin (not the liquor!) reports on the morning radio are important.
* “In high cotton” means that the cotton plants are high enough so that you don’t have to stoop or bend over to pick it.