Stories from my little corner of the world, the South. Some are from the present, some from the past...but all are from my heart.

They reflect my thoughts and views, my musing about the world, and each carries with it a bit of my heart
and soul.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Gathering of Clan

A Gathering of Clan

Can’t remember why we have it this time of year,
the heat is oppressive and saps all our energy
leaving us as lethargic
as the blue tick hounds under the porch.

Humidity hangs in the air
like the Spanish moss in surrounding trees,
and beads of sweat sit on our lips and brows
glistening in the sunlight like exotic jewels. 

Yellow flies nip mercilessly
at unprotected ankles and elbows
of those who forgot their Skin-So-Soft.
But we show up every June,
‘cause that’s how it’s always been done
 and that’s a good enough reason for most,
‘specially the old-timers.

Copiously covered tables sag in the middle like sway-back mules.
Most every Southern dish imaginable is here:
mounds of fried chicken lie on platters like sacrificial offerings,
baked hams and fried catfish taunt us to taste them,
cast iron pots full of fresh speckled-butter beans and crowder peas
reveal floating ham hocks begging to be gnawed.

There are kettles of creamed and boiled corn and bowls of potato salad galore.
The sweets tables sits off to the side:
a dieter’s nightmare of puddings, pies, and cobblers.
Oh, and the cakes: cakes with thin, griddle-cooked layers topped with freshly made jelly,
blackberry, blueberry, huckleberry and mayhaw dripping temptingly.
Chocolate cakes, eight to ten layers each, with home-made fudge icing,
Coconut cake with whipped meringue so light it threatens to float away.
Banana pudding made from scratch, no instant mixes here!
Iced cold tea, sweet and syrupy; lemonade, tart and tangy.

Relatives gather, congregating to swap gossip, photos, and recipes.
Bragging rights are hotly debated over children, dogs, and fishes caught.

Cousins reminisce about times when their only worries
were who could win the most marbles or swing the highest.
Older relatives remember when the road out front was still dirt,
or when old Unc Hank was still living...
Lordy, could he spin a tall tale!

New babies wriggle in unfamiliar arms,
their frowning faces pinched in protest,
as great-aunts and second cousins steal kisses
from their tempting rose petal cheeks.

Toddlers hold court like jesters,
for crowds of appreciative onlookers.
Older children divide up according to gender.
The boys play loud boisterous games of war
or push small cars and trucks in the sand.
Girls hopscotch and play jack stones
or inspect each other’s dolls.

Teenagers, bored to tears and wishing they were home,
feel like aliens on a strange planet,
and wonder if it’s possible they were adopted.

And so we congregate, a gathering of clan:
multiple generations assembled in one place
to honor their collective heritage,
to rekindle their bond of blood,
and their shared joys and sorrows.

We come to reunite and celebrate
the lineage that joins us together.
Generation after generation,
Year after year,
on this specific day,
to this special place:
an annual reunion of spirits and hearts,
who share the ties that bind,
the powerful bond of family.

Rose S. Williams

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