Night Saunter | Sheree’s Cornbread

Grandparents’ Wicker Snooze Vehicle

Saunter – to walk leisurely. The Big Book of Words You Should Know

Certainly there was a nap in my immediate future; not a surprise since I had been awake from sunset to sunrise. I don’t remember entertaining those hours since I birthed my daughters, each in the middle of the night.

But I was working then and this time I don’t have an excuse except to say that the dependable switch that I flip when my head hits the pillow did not engage. In fact, it wasn’t until later that I recognized what I had taken for granted. Blessed sleep, the healing balm which makes all things manageable.

I come from a long line of nappers and to my surprise, I intermarried a non-napper. Thankfully I am free from judgment; he indulges me. My people took short siestas after lunch and deep slumbers on the weekend, mixing in a book or a movie along the way.

been napping on this same wicker couch since 1955

Even now, I can see the curve of my mother’s reclining spine as she napped late in the day after I got home from school, a sure sign that she had been up the night before, finishing handwork or rearranging furniture.

And if restless, why not get up and get to it? But there was no use; my mind had taken flight by way of a weekend viewing of a favorite movie – Defending Your Life.

As a rule, we are not repeat movie viewers, but recent conversation in the house about aging brought us round to the departed and dazed Albert Brooks who arrives in Judgment City with nothing but a white robe to show for himself. He is obliged to confront a giant screen with various previews of the crossroads in his life.

And the question for him is – did he proceed with fear or without fear? If he pressed on without fear, he could ascend to a higher level in the next life where he could use a larger percentage of his brain.

I am all for that. Delighted, in fact, if it works out that way, but the life events that I galloped through during my sleepless night in Rolling Fields Circle were not that profound.

And they turned out to be busy, without sequence, like a fun house at the fair and we all have our wacky interpretations of what that brings. I have affection for the past, but I am oriented toward the future, so the evening went something like this:

a game of pick up sticks on a concrete slab porch, early morning cartoons with my brother
a road trip with one of my grown grandchildren
a wake up back rub from Daddy, the law, laid down by Mother
climbing the Eiffel Tower and drinking champagne with D
standing guard over my mother’s body, calming my young daughter’s fears about mortality
shelving books, a regrettable exchange
applauding a grown grandchild’s achievement, driving the foggy, rolling hills of Maury County
long affirming talks with D, cooking for friends, braiding my granddaughter’s hair
Zig… crying old with friends, late khayat float with daughter on Lake Michigan, planting things, squeezing children
bike riding with a boyfriend of another era

and so on…and on….

And as the sun came up, a resolve to dwell in non-reactive stillness floated all around. A dear mentor of mine named Cleo expresses, “I feel a nudge from the holy spirit” and that is how it showed up – a desire to be a steady presence in the whirling dervishness of my tribe.

I swung my feet to the floor and considered my personally produced slide show. Life review, maybe, but, it’s clear to me now that there are no do overs or rewarding best laid plans. Live the moment fully because as my Great Aunt Freda said, “yesterday is gone, tomorrow never comes.”

She always was one to intensify aliveness, offering things to savor like that. I also recall a snack she made – honey, cornbread and a cold glass of milk.

Now there is a slide to get me through until nap time.

Sheree’s Cast Iron Cornbread

I am testing recipes for a beautiful cookbook out next fall. My friend, the author, had a similar childhood memory to mine – cornbread held after dinner for an afternoon snack.

First things first, one must locate local honey. Then go for the brilliant simplicity of cornbread served in a cast iron skillet. Sheree has the best traditional preparation so have at this sneak peak:

1 large egg
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cup self-rising white corn meal
1/2 cup of self rising flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil in an 8 or 9 inch iron skillet or any pan of equal size and placed into the oven for 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the egg in a medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil, sugar, flour and cornmeal until completely mixed. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk.

Remove hot skillet from oven and sift about 2 tablespoons of flour across the pan into the hot grease. Immediately pour batter into pan.

Bake 2 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out onto platter and serve with lots of butter.

Share this Post