Run for the Hills

Photo courtesy of Wendy Irizarry

At first glance I thought this snake was so cute until I realized what his business in the birdhouse was.

The birdhouse itself has a story. It was given to my husband many years ago by a coworker who knew we loved to garden. Seems the birdhouse was built and painted by a little boy named Charlie. Charlie had Autism. And cancer. Building the birdhouse was a tremendous feat for Charlie, and I can imagine how proud he was of it. Sadly Charlie lost his battle with cancer, and the birdhouse sat in the closet until it came to us. We chose not to paint it, or alter it in any way, and hung Charlie’s masterpiece in a prominent place in our garden. A tribute to a little boy, and a reminder to us that life is precious.

What a great, but horrifying picture.  Thanks, Wendy.

Y’all got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree

It’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable to attend. Melvin showed up to visit one day, not long after Daddy died. Mother wasn’t particularly anxious to visit with him but had no concerns about inviting him in for coffee, since the families had been friends for more than twenty years. She served him coffee, dreading what might be on his mind. She was wearing a faded jeans and a cotton shirt with the top button undone. Speaking pleansantly, he asked, “Would you mind buttoning your shirt and rolling down your sleeves?” She did as he asked, as though she’d been caught flaunting herself.

Melvin unfolded a hinged message board. Before starting his talk, he made another request. “Would you please uncross your legs?” She did. Back to the talk; on one side of the board was a crudely painted train, running off the rails in a mountain pass, on the other, a plane ascending toward a cross in the heavens. Melvin explained to Mother, that if she didn’t follow Christ, like the train, she was “off the rails” and headed for hell.

Without thinking she recrossed her legs. He caught her. “Uh! Uh! Uh!” Shamed, she uncrossed them. He continued. “If she followed Christ, she’d do like the plane and “go to Jesus.” She was anxious for this creepy talk to be over and have him on his way. He turned to stare out her front door, speaking in a monotone. “Did y’all know y’all had a snake in y’all’s tree?”

The hair stood up on the back of her neck!

He walked directly to the gun cabinet where Daddy’s loaded guns still stood, took one out, walked to the front door, shot the snake, returned the gun the its slot, and returned to his seat to finish Mother’s religious instruction.

She got her purse, told Melvin she had some business to attend to, instructing him to lock the door on his way out. He never visited again, his duty done.

The More Things Change (part 2)

imageAs I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into Grandma’s pillowy softness, smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder, unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.” Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama” I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother. Sure, I was her favorite grandchild, I later learned the other kids thought the same things, the mark of a good grandmother.

We only visited Grandma In summers, since she lived a few hours away.  I loved following her to tend the chickens where She made that praise Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same. She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.” She didn’t have enough her eggs to “set” her yet. She counted her chickens and found Susie missing. Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest. I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, an ornery red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!” I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.  Once I had the thrill of seeing Grandma fearlessly make short work of a black chicken snake lounging in a nest with an egg in his mouth.  Unbelievably, she grabbed him barehanded and slung him to the ground, where she dispatched him to snake heaven with the shovel she always carried outdoors.

Daily, we walked her yard, shovel in hand,checking out the flowers, moving one or two that needed a better home, filling a hole here, rooting out a weed there.  She gathered tomatoes, okra, and squash from the garden, later serving them at lunch, tomatoes still warm from the sun.  Before one, we made the ritual walk to the mailbox with a letter or two.  Grandma often got two or three letters a day since she wrote to numerous friends and relatives.  She’d read these to us as a group, “Oh!  Winnie’s girl Opal’s little girl is a princess in the school play.  She’s your third cousin.  All of Winnie’s kids did good.  They were all smart as whips!” going on to tell us stories of her girlhood with the distant Wiinie.

I envied my unknown cousin, though I’d never wanted to be a princess before or since.  Sometimes, the letters included pictures, which we poured over.

As my granddaughter and I relaxed in a dear friend’s garden, I collected cleome seed to share with her sometime down the road, a reminder of this day.  I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together.

Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading

Peeing in the Wilderness

laughing snakeThis peeing in the wilderness story is from a dear friend who will remain nameless since she has threatened me sufficiently and believably.  Some lovely young things were once touring the rural countryside when they realized they were miles from the nearest bathroom.  They weren’t concerned since they were country girls, skilled in country arts.  Continue reading

The Snake and the Flying Fencepost

laughing snake

Daddy had recently had surgery and was hobbling around on crutches in an ankle to thigh cast.  Feeling he just had to get outside for just a few minutes, he took his first trip into the yard.  Four-year-old Marilyn who was following him around suddenly starting screaming in terror.  She’d stepped on a snake!  Daddy balanced himself on one crutch, grabbed her, Continue reading

The Snake in the Fan

imageBack in the days before we had an air conditioner, Daddy brought home a huge second hand water-cooled fan, thinking it might be an improvement over our attic fan. He hooked it up in the dining room window, where it blew directly over the Continue reading

Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading

The Axe, the Snake, and the Doll. It Ain’t a Purty Thing!

broke doll headimageaxe

Though my grandpa Roscoe Holdaway worked as a farmer back in the 1920s, once he took the opportunity to get temporary work for a few weeks at a logging camp deep in the Continue reading