I'm thinking about Poppy and Mama Franklin after watching a documentary about Monsanto. I walk to the freezer and take out the mayonnaise jar of bean seeds and look into the jar. How did I come by them in the first place? Mama Franklin's bean seeds have been in a mayonnaise jar in my freezer for decades and packed for moving many times. When they would no longer grow I kept them. I gaze now into the seeds as a fortune teller would look into a crystal ball and I remember..
that the deer congregated at the apple tree in the field across from the house. I walk past the fairly friendly bulls and corn fields and there is the peace and rhythm of the river while I watch Poppy fish the trout holes. Walking back with the trout and catfish on some days and I stand at the old porcelain topped kitchen cupboard to watch my grandmother work her magic. The fresh floured filets jump in the pan because their muscles don't know yet they are no longer in the river. I like the jumping filets better than the chicken feather snowstorms in the backyard before a chicken dinner. Cousins swing on the barn door and go around to the hay loft and climb to the top, giving the pigeons a moment of our time, but hurry to slide down and climb back up...again and again and again. The pitch black nights with outside night noises of whippoorwills and crickets and frogs and bob whites that are louder than a freight train but they give us dreams of outdoors, butterflies around the mud-hole that makes rainbows after a rain. Feather beds swallow us to a scary deep and then feather walls settle in just before panic and we are buried alive in hand stitched quilts. There is real adventure in the jeep rides on the old lumber roads. In an earlier memory there is churned butter that I thought was a poor substitute for the margarine in the stores. It is not a chore to go to the garden for fresh corn to boil and pile up on a platter in the middle of the table. Don't tear down the dirt dobber nests! we are reminded each time we watch them build outside the screen porch. They keep down the termites and bad bugs. If you must go into the canning room don't touch anything. The canning room makes all the difference in having or not having and it's a protected room. Why is it always so refreshingly cool in that room, like standing beside of a waterfall. We call the cows to the creek bridge and throw salt on their backs and walk down under the bridge into the creek and build a rock dam for the crawdads. My grandmother is never snake-bit in the garden because she is a quick snake jumper. My grandfather comes in in late afternoons with a couple of arrowheads in his pocket picked up from the fields from another lifetime. Mama Franklin teaches me how to smock and embroider in the afternoons that we are alone. Late at night Poppy brings out rolls of bright colors of wire for wire art. We make rainbows in the creek with the oil can until the forest ranger follows the trail of oil to Poppy's back yard and tells him about our pollution. We float on tubes in John's River every summer hot Sunday. One of those late summer days, my infant brother flips over in his too tight inner tube with feet up in the air and head down under the water. I only laugh a little til mom screams for me to flip him back over. He isn't rattled at all, a personality trait that will stay with him. My grandfather drives to church on Sunday down the dirt road like a bat out of hell in his GMC truck. When he comes to a blind curve he lays down on the horn warning all creatures great and small to get out of the way. He could drive that road blind folded and excitement and trust is what I feel on the edge of the seat with hands on the dash. Mom runs over a pig as we pack up and ride back home and cries into the evening.
Although my jar of seeds won't grow now, they are gems of the past, God's own seeds. The memories are the best heritage a child could ever ask. Like the "Secret Sisters" song I'm listening to..."We all belong to the dirt in the garden.....its one of those days I want to be little again....there is nothin funner than takin your turn......don't tip toe, just jump in"