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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deep in the heat of Texas

Summer is here in full force. We have humid, 90-degree days (although balmy compared to the 100+ weather of last summer) and the nights are not much cooler.

It is these temperatures that bring me closer to understanding my southern genes. The heat and humidity really take it out of me, and I find myself moving, talking, and even thinking much slowly. Suddenly things lose their urgency as I gravitate toward the porch or any piece of furniture under a ceiling fan where I can find a little air movement.

The easy ways of my grandparents and great aunts suddenly spring to mind. Those folks couldn’t be hurried into anything and the lazy way they framed their thoughts sometimes seemed alien to me. I’ve always been prone to rushing around and doing too much at once. The only time the pace slowed was when I spent time with the McCasland clan. It was from grandma that I learned to love chickens, corn bread, bacon fat, greens, and anything else she would let me help cook. Grandpa and I spent many hours sitting in the boat waiting for the crappy to bite on Emigrant Lake a tonic for an A-personality granddaughter prone to talk too much. It seems he never ran out of stories about Arkansas and I never tired of listening.

I think of Jack and Clemmy often now. I think I can understand them a little better and I wish they were both alive for me to tell them so. I’d like to tease Grandma and tell her how I relish greens and bacon. Grandpa would be urging me to drop a line into the Colorado River to see how big a bass I could pull in. I hear the crappie bite really well on lawn grubs I can hear him say. I would tell them about my lazy summer days and how now I can appreciate the phrase “come and sit a spell.” I would show them my garden and laugh as the drying pods on my black-eyed peas pop and crackle in the sun. We’d talk about the merits of the tomato varieties I’ve planted and wonder how much taller these sunflowers are going to get. We would sit in the chairs that Ed made out of fence boards, swat at the mosquitoes and admire the fireflies.

I could never imagine the life I lead now. I could never even conceive of slowing things down and actually enjoying the heat of the day. I had no idea that the south would ooze out of my pores like the gallons of sweat I didn’t know I could produce. I didn’t know I had a southerner in me. “I swan Sheri”, I can hear Grandpa say, “we knew it all the time.”

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