I believe that there are vitamins in beauty, Rooster MacNeice said. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
I was a restless young one always looking for an episode.
One scorching Mississippi Delta afternoon after I folded clothes from the line and helped Grandaddy pick vegetables;
after I played hopscotch and swigged a draw of lukewarm water from the hose;
after I shuffled a paper-thin deck of cards to the morning news played out on a tiny black and white television set…
after I strolled through my mother’s high school party dress closet and played a round of paper dolls with the Sears catalog;
still after I laid out the luncheon table in the sunny breakfast room and watched Grandaddy stir the pot on a gigantic Chambers oven gas eye;
I reviewed the junk drawer in the back bedroom chester drawers, shared the mid-day meal, soaked my tiny bones in the soft water of an afternoon bath and in relief took a sweaty nap…..
Upon awakening, instructions were available on what to wear: teeth brushed with baking soda, clean underwear, a ricked racketed and starched handmade sun dress and newly polished Buster Brown leather sandals.
Grandmother wore a blue striped cotton dress and Grandaddy, her sweetheart Claude Madison Godmac Griffith whom she referred to as “Daddy,” wore grey work pants, a brown belt and a blue striped shirt. They both wore sensible shoes.
The p.m. was designated for society and we hit the sidewalk fronting Canal Street in Yazoo City. Grandaddy strode to the left on the way to the Ricks Memorial Library Reading Room and Grandmother and I meandered to the right, past the newly wed cottage, a chicken coop, Mrs. Shelby’s house and the Glenwood Cemetery.
I leaped an obstacle of cracks spawned by aged trees leaning into the path. We rounded the canal and headed for the exotic – an estate sale. We found it in the deep front green darkness of some dear lady’s yard.
“She had lovely things,” Grandmother waved me to canvas the sea of tables draped with white cotton and the underpinnings of gentile domesticity. I was awe struck with shine and color in the shape of glassware and light fixtures, china table settings and what nots.
The situation was enchanted. Satiated – I paused under a tree with Grandmother as a robust rain began to chill the air. We waited to make a break for home.The sun was low and the cicadas were waking the dead.
Grandmother chattered as we walked back over the steamy sidewalks until we saw Grandaddy. He tipped his hat when we got in close range of each other and to the house.
Marinated Cukes, Red Onions, Tomatoes and Herbs
A southern lunch prepared by Grandaddy was reminiscent of his Illinois farm upbringing: cold lamb, squash casserole, tomatoes and cucumbers and cornbread.
He was without knowledge of fresh herbs, but would, I imagine, appreciate their deliciousness when it came to his cucumber and tomato salad. I have taken the liberty for improvements with the following mingle:
3 medium cukes – peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium red onion – sliced and separated into rings
3 medium tomatoes – cut into wedges
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon of mint or basil or lemon balm
crumbled feta is a plus
Refrigerate in marinade for at least 2 hours.
Thank you Hope Carr for use of “The Canal.” And to Ginger Taylor for the introduction to Hope’s depiction of the Mississippi Delta. See Hope’s work at
Share Ms Cook With Your Friends