It’s All About the Food When You’re Southern

I’ve eaten a lot of different kinds of food in my life, especially as a kid.

I had to stay with my Maternal Grandparents a lot when I was young because Mom was sick quite a bit. I stayed there almost one entire school year in the 4th grade, and almost every Summer I spent 3 or 4 weeks with Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa had grown up eating wild game and he never intended to change as long as he had a choice. He had deer horns lining the upper beam of his front porch from one end to the other…there were dozens of them. Rattlesnake rattlers also hung down from the beam, trophies of killing some of the biggest Eastern Diamondbacks I ever remember, or want to think about.

My Grandpa’s Uncle Larkin Davenport once killed one that stretched from one side of the old dirt road to the other. I wish there had been iPhones back in those days, oh the photos I could have taken! But, back to the food…

Besides venison, Grandpa also had a craving ever now and then for a Possum. Yes….a possum. The kind you see lying dead on the side of the road almost every time you take a trip up the old Alabama highway. Of course Grandpa wouldn’t pick up roadkill! That was for the REAL hillbillies in the backwoods of Kentucky. Up at the end of Snake Nation road in the Blue Ridge mountains, things were done in a civilized manner.

Grandpa would trap or catch a possum when he had a craving for one, and keep it up under a big old, huge wash tub for about a week. During that week, the possum would be fed the leftover vegetables from our meals, along with the peels and scraps from the vegetables. Grandma gave the little beast bread with a little honey on it on the day before it was to meet his maker. I believe it was to “sweeten” the meat, although maybe it was a last little treat for the critter too.

I had to help Grandpa skin the possum, and it was done just like skinning a rabbit. If you have never skinned a rabbit, I won’t go into it right now, but if you need to know, send me a message and I’ll give you instructions. Chances are if you grew up in the deep South you already know.

Grandma was very particular about cooking wild game, so she carefully cleaned the possum and poured nearly boiling water over him in order to get any scraps of hide off. All of this was done early in the morning. The possum then went into a large pot for parboiling. After about an hour of parboiling, Grandma would take the possum out, put it on a large pan, and sprinkle salt and spices onto it. Peeled sweet potatoes where added, and some slices of bacon, in order to add back some of the flavor which was lost during the parboiling process…which was essential in order to make the meat tender. It then went into the oven to finish cooking by being baked.

I have to note that parboiling was also necessary when preparing and eating squirrel, if you were going to fry them. If stewing the squirrel, you just went right on and kept boiling, but added some spices and some other ingredients. I ate a lot more squirrel than I did possum, and they aren’t half bad.

The last possum I ate was back around1960 if I remember correctly, when I was ten years old. My Grandfather was 67 years old that year. I can’t remember ever eating possum again, although venison and fish still graced the table at times. For the most part Grandma stuck with fried chicken, and beef roasts, and other pretty ordinary stuff in the subsequent years. Of course her cooking was anything but ordinary. Never had another biscuit as good as hers, or a cherry cobbler, or fried chicken…or fried apples for breakfast straight off the apple tree, or…well, you get the picture. I have wished a million times I had paid more attention to how Granny prepared food…especially the biscuits!

As for the possum? Well, I ate the sweet potatoes. The meat was just too greasy for me.

Song of the Heart

It’s amazing to me that we as humans give so much credit to the brain for everything which we do.

For some reason this afternoon I have been considering the fact that when I really have a deep feeling, whether it be love, sadness, anger or longing, that feeling wells up from within my chest, never from my head….

I feel my heart beating within me every night and I thank God for allowing it to continue. Life is so good, even with all the bad things that often happen. Even with the spirits of darkness which swirl in the air around us on a daily basis… is good.

I am thankful for my family and my friends, who give from their hearts to me when I often am undeserving.

I am thankful for my friends who exist for the most part here…in this land of pictures and words and images, even those with whom I have never had a handshake or a touch. I value your good intentions, your kind words.

Henry Van Dyke said: “A friend is what the heart needs all the time” and it is true…

Mind Over Matter

“Its mind over matter” they told me in school….

“If you don’t mind, it don’t matter….”.

But, if nothing matters, what’s the point in even living?

If goodness does not matter, then what’s the point in existing? And love?

If love doesn’t matter, then we are all simply empty husks being blown by the winds of chaos.

But, I DO care…so things do matter. The right things. The proper things. The logical things. The things that may be hard, but that matter for the good of ALL mankind.

Not just a select few who think they matter the most because they have accumulated more strips of green paper (some call it money…cash…riches) than everyone else.

Green paper won’t protect you from everything. There’s a solution for that, and the solution is simple.

It’s mind over matter.

The Great Gift

We have been given a great gift, whether by luck or on purpose, depending on your belief system. In either case, it is a wonder and a miracle. It is our life here on this wonderful planet.

Out of all of the stars in the sky at night….the millions and billions, our star…the Sun, Sol… sustains this third planet from the sun and we live here in relative comfort.

Out of all the species on Earth, we humans have become the dominant life form.

I think we fail to realize sometimes that the resources here on our planet are finite, not unlimited as we seem to think. One day, all of the things we take for granted will run out. Chief amongst them in rank of importance would be air to breathe, water and food.

I don’t know how quickly things are becoming critical, but it seems to be happening faster than many scientists have anticipated. I’m not sure how severe things will become in my lifetime, but certainly the next couple of generations will see changes that will require major adjustments.

It is to that end that I am concerned with issues involving our environment. I think it would be to our advantage, for the sake of our descendants, that we all be concerned, and do what we can to preserve a world on which those descendants can live.

My generation has been the luckiest and most fortunate of almost any which have come before, as far as the manner in which we have been able to live. I feel ashamed personally for not having had the foresight and the resolve to be more careful about what we have been doing to our world. I’ve been on “cruise control” just sailing along and not thinking of anything much other than my own immediate needs and those of my close family.

If indeed God did create us, and give us a caretakers role for the Earth, we haven’t done well. I hope future generations will do better, and I’m trying to help them what little I can while I’m still around. We all should. We owe it to the future residents of this wonderful planet.