Thursday, May 28, 2009

sunday scribblings

If Only Everything Was As Reliable As A Volkswagen

There was never any doubt.

Not a minute. Not a second. Not even one of those nano-seconds they talk about in science fiction movies and such. No, there was never any doubt in my mind as to what we'd have for dinner that day as my Great Aunt Idell walked the house, brow furrowed, fat folds almost covering her eyes behind the black framed glasses that caught the light from outside on this beautiful Sunday afternoon in Mississippi. It was spring, the crepe myrtle was advancing on the house with the same sense of taking it over as Grant showed when he marched through Richmond 100 years before and the air smelled of newly turned earth, honeysuckle and freshly baked blackberry cobbler.

My grandmother, tiny, thin, her lips seldom in a smile, followed Idell, muttering to herself they should never have let Uncle Burt borrow the Volkswagen . He never put the keys back in the right place, and now that they were needed by these two...well, they weren't nowhere at all.

"Found 'em!" shouted Idell, her stockinged thighs rubbing together announcing her arrival before you actually saw her entering a room. "Bonnie? I found 'em! Let's get going on this!"

Being a part time City child, I found most of the chores around this farm.ish kind of a place dull, and almost serf like in responsibility. Who on earth wanted to gather eggs or shovel manure or even, for heavens sake, pick vegetables? I didn't want to know where my food came from, I only wanted it cooked and served in the cool of the evening, after I'd read up in a tree, avoiding as much manual labour as I possibly could.

There was, however, one task I loved to watch. Call me sick, call me twisted, but, make sure you called my 6 year old self when this would happen. It would start with that walk though the house, the search for the 1958 Bug keys by those two women. Once found, Idell would take her bulk out to the shed where her beloved car sat. It was eight years old and had 6000 miles on it, all of them either driving back and forth to the Baptist church on Sundays and Wednesdays.... and a few when the car was used as a weapon of destruction.

Neither woman could actually kill a chicken, you see. One was too small to do damage, one too soft hearted. But, in order to have fried chicken for Sunday Dinner, you had to, well, kill one. They finally figured out a plan, one that saved them from using an ax or wringing necks; one they felt was humane. My grandmother would kneel down on her apron, holding the chicken still with it's head on a large flat rock, and Idell would back her car slowly over the chicken's head, effectively killing the chicken and stopping that running around the yard a beheaded chicken tends to do. I'm not sure why they never had my father chop the head off, or why Great Aunt Idell never drove forward to kill the chicken... it was always the call of "Where are the car keys??" and the subsequent ritual of chicken down, car backed out, chicken dead.

So, there was never any doubt what was for dinner and I knew instantly when I heard that phrase, when I saw my Grandmother head for the coop.... fried chicken for dinner with all the Southern fixin's plus the added bonus of what passed for afternoon entertainment on the farmette was in store.

These days, it's far easier to fix chicken, I get in my VW and drive to buy prepackaged, dead, plucked, ready to cook chicken. It's far easier....

.....but, not nearly as much fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment