Private Art Showing | Late Summer Vegetable Minestrone

Quinn and Robert Kellum

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices; Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way, With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today. Now Thank We All Our God by Martin Rinkart


Some might say our garage is in better shape than most. Nothing fancy, it is lined with pressed board and a window and an automatic garage door opening; it served duty in the name of rainy play dates, piñata bashings, roller skate trials, hopscotch and  home to an array of imaginary characters.

These days besides our vehicles, it retains our recycling and trash, a neglected gas grill and an ancient refrigerator. And also a weather-beaten red wagon, the backside bearer to children and grandchildren. This vintage chariot turned out to be an unintended museum piece among other beloved things.

During their past summer vacation to Tennessee, while whizzing around in exploration, the Weprin girls expressed grandiose fascination in the attic – a grandparent sort of intrigue, like what’s up there they cried. Creepy, old stuff? Well, yes.

I remembered incalculable hours spent in storage at my Yazoo City grandparents’ home. They called their space Noah’s Ark and assured me that it had two of everything.

After the girls’ presences were scattered all about like auras – a broken off flower, a pile of sand, twisted popsicle sticks – I took a breath and climbed the rickety pull down ladder into the breath sucking attic above the garage.

Neglected for years, the space could hold anything, including alive somethings. Yikes. So teetering above the oil spots below, I gasped at the vision of a life sized portrait of my daughter Quinn – traced on a piece of foam board decades ago by her art teacher and my friend Carrie Lancaster.

It was a perfect cartoon rendering of Quinn on that elementary school day when I picked her up from McDowell Elementary sporting a black and white Laura Ashley sort of git-up. We headed to art class at Zion Presbyterian on a mission for the future.

With tears of endearment, I grabbed the unwieldy piece of historic evidence, Dutch Boy hair cut and all. I propped the memento on the garage wall, the side where I park, wishing that her sister Mary Ann was also canonized there along side the GM (garage memorabilia) and various Rolling Fields night creatures.

We were not ones to take a lot of photographs and even less in the way of videos. There were specters for my husband Dalton and me of camera toting relatives, who barked production scripts. We agreed that for us, moments were lost.

I realized that I prefer layers of memories shared and made richer with prompts from God knows where. And so it was with a zany chain of events that thankfully paved the way for my arrival back home to Tennessee after  the birth of Robert Benton Kellum, second son of Quinn.

After all the hullabaloo, migratory grandparent revelations and navigation of  speedway obstacles on Highway 65 and 20, I wistfully noted as I motored  into the garage that my littlest girl, so colorfully documented for private recall, is now a wife and mother to two fine young men.

Late Summer Vegetable Minestrone

A tradition, after the birth of a new family member, that I made up though I know very little about freezing, has been to spend a few days in the Chicago and Mississippi kitchens of our children and put up some meals, so they will feel the love when they are called upon to give the love.

Thank you Martha Stewart for providing this seasonal soup in the September issue of Living. The recipe made for several meals which I divided into ziplock bags and flatten on the freezer shelf to allow for space.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
1 cup 1/4 inch sliced celery
4 cups of Swiss Chard leaves torn into small pieces with 11/2 stems cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups of one inch pieces of green beans
2 cups of diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of diced zucchini or yellow squash or combo
1 parmesan rind or 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 can butter beans, cannelloni or chick peas, drained and rinsed
Fresh basil, torn for serving

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add carrots, celery, and chard stems; cook, stirring occasionally, until chard stems are translucent. Add green beans and tomatoes. Season with salt; cook, stirring occasionally until beans and tomatoes start to soften. Add zucchini, 5 cups water, Parmesan rind and canned beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until all vegetables are softened, about 25 minutes, adding chard leaves in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Season again. Upon serving, top with grated cheese and basil or freeze up to 3 months.

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