Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ROOTS, REDUX

Thank you all for the kind words and thoughts and prayers.   While things are still down here, a re-run from the blog's beginnings.   We could all use a fresh start now and then:

Deep Roots, March, 2009


I've been looking into some of the names of my forebears, just Googling a surname now and then, running an eye down the lists and the branches, finding kin, finding even from this remove an unexpected sprinkling of names of friends-back-home whose lineage parallels or channels with my own, merely by dint of a far-ago marriage in the place we both are from.

Memories kindled, smiles of recognition and astonishment at our links in the long chain---it's been fun to scroll across the names of old friends and acquaintances whose names echo mine in the long past. Something about being from the South, of the near-and-dear relationships, the kinship of place as strong as of family---it's a heart-thing, absorbed through the air and the heat and the long vistas of flat Delta gumbo, from that primal scent of first-plowing to the nip of Fall, with Winter delineated by getting out jackets and gazing on the drab scape of gray fields shorn to stubble.



My own raising, deep in the moist heat of that fertile flatness, was centered around family gatherings---Sunday dinner and birthdays and holidays and reunions and sitting together in the shade, waiting for the ice cream freezer to do its magic to the custard whose recipe was older than anybody present. The old recipes and jotted-downs and clipped-outs and the mainstays---we repeat the gestures, the measures, the tastes.

I cook Southern, but have been known to throw foie gras or caviar onto a table with crawfish, catfish, mallard, mountain oysters, rooster fries, buffalo and wild hog. I cook whatever we feel like at the moment, whatever is freshest from the garden or the Farmers' Market, or whatever was just brought back from a trip South. Food and cooking and the cultivation of both have been a greater part of the Southern perspective for time beyond memory, and the dedication and methods from the old ways have hung on longer in the South, it seems.

I own white gloves, lacy hankies, opera glasses, a well-sharpened hoe, a TALL ladder and a Troy-Bilt. A lifetime of food raising, hoeing, picking, canning, pickling, freezing and preserving has given me a deep appreciation for all methods of hunting and gathering. Deer, duck, crappie, barbecue and gumbo have appeared as often on our table as pasta, hamburgers or Mapo tofu.

The ladylike rosy shade of my own nape was earned honestly, bending over the beanrows, pea-vines, cornstalks and squash hills in that extremely HOT Delta sun. Redneck is as redneck does, I reckon.

But sometimes it would be nice not to have to waste so much time dispelling the notion that the lowest IQ in the room necessarily must belong to the person with the Southern accent.

4 comments:

Southern Lady said...

Oh, Rachel ... it was so good to see LAWN TEA at the top of my favorites list! It was as if a little blinking light came on, and I think my heart actually skipped a beat.

We are kindred souls who share those "deep southern roots," and this morning you brought back a lot of sweet, sweet memories of "the good ole' days."

Welcome back!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Rachel:
Your post does raise the very serious issue of discrimination which can happen in so many ways, so many situations and amongst people whom one would think would know better. We have been entranced to read of your southern roots and can easily see, from the few posts we have read to date,that you have such an eclectic mix in you that makes what you write so varied and so interesting. Well, to coin a much hackneyed phrase, the girl may be taken out of the South, but the South will not be taken out of the girl,and how wonderful that is for us, your readers!

We do so hope that your situation is improving and that you will return to our screens in your usual high spirits soon.

Beverly said...

I wish I was there to kiss your sweet Southern cheek and give you a big ole hug.

Kim Shook said...

Balm, my dear, simply balm. My brain is flat-lined now and I cannot do this glorious post justice, but please, please know how much your talent and heart are appreciated!