The cool temperatures have arrived and on a recent chilly morning when I turned on the gas to fry up some bacon, the warmth from the stove took me to another place in time.
I was going through the door of my Aunt Christie's house on a winter morning. Before I went to school or on weekends when Mother had to work, she would drop me off at Aunt Christie's. The somewhat steep and narrow driveway was deeply rutted and sprinkled with random bits and pieces of gravel that had managed to hang on despite the rivulets that had run their course over months of wet weather. At the top of the hill was a little clapboard house with a steady stream of smoke billowing up from a crude chimney. The moment I spied the smoke my mouth began to water.
My Aunt Christie would meet me at the door with a wide smile and a sweet disposition. She would have just come from the kitchen, an apron tied to her waist and a bit of snuff between her teeth and lower lip. Her day started at dawn when she fired up the wood stove to put a kettle on for coffee and to stoke up the fire-breathing oven to make biscuits—flat little orbs that, by the time I arrived, were SMOTHERED in butter. I liked my grandmother’s fluffy biscuits better, but once these more dense versions of the southern staple were put on a little blue willow dish and daubed with homemade jam, I could be convinced to consume them with the same tail-wagging satisfaction as that of their new puppy at his bowl of gravy.
Most often the day would be filled with me helping with chores around the house or in the garden. But every fall we would, on occasion, take a picnic lunch of bologna sandwiches, pickles, and some sweet tea down to "the bottom." There we would traverse bumpy, pocked, patches of dirt and gravel roads to get to a stand of pecan trees that sat in the midst of acres of wheat waving their wispy stalks in the breezes coming off the Mississippi River.
We would park the car and then grab our sacks to begin our harvest of pecans that had blissfully bounced to the ground so that, during the coming holiday, my mother, grandmother, and Aunt Christie could crack them, shell them, and ultimately create the nutty seasonal confections that were synonymous with the arrival of the holidays.
All of us at PADUCAH LIFE Magazine wish you a heaping helping of holiday cheer!