Dear Sunday Letter friends,
I’m baaaack. Sorry I missed writing my letter last week. It was a crazy week (part of which is detailed below). This week brings the Great Pumpkin and Halloween and Milk Duds that I’ve already begun sneaking from the trick-or-treat stash. You know what all this means?
Santa Claus will come to town in fifty-eight days…
Yikes, y’all. Somewhere in the sock drawer of my mind it still seems like mid-summer to me.
Cheers To The Bat!
We’ve had a big couple of weeks. Momma official moved to Fayetteville. For those new to the Grace Grits family, Momma’s nickname is the Bat, not because she’s batty or anything, but because her initials spell B.A.T.
Not to worry–we still have our farm in Mississippi County, and she will continue to spend time there too. But it’s super nice to have her a hop, skip and a jump away for much of the time.
We officially toasted her arrival with our special bat wineglasses.
You may have heard through the social media grapevine that Momma had an accident last weekend. On the way back from her annual, much-anticipated Arkansas Tech homecoming weekend, an almost-car-wreck (she was in the back seat and the details are still unclear to me) resulted in a deep gash down her forehead.
The attentive doctors and nurses at Washington Regional took great care to check her out from head to toe. After nine stitches, two black eyes, a whole bunch of bruises that continue to blossom and spread, and several hours in ER, she’s on the mend. Soon, she’ll be ready for wine-thirty on the porch and other social invitations with her new neighbors.
Time is still on her side thank goodness. It could have been much, much worse.
Not Born South Enough
Sometimes I truly believe I wasn’t born south enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the Ozarks. Having four distinct seasons and summers that aren’t scorching hot and swarming with mosquitoes are definite northwest Arkansas perks. But honestly, when I drive back into the delta, say around Pine Bluff or Stuttgart or Forrest City (depending upon where I’m headed), that’s when the feeling of home hits me smack dab in the heart. For me, crossing over the Mississippi River is nearly a religious experience.
When we were kids and Momma took us to Memphis, my sister and I always tried to hold our breath while we crossed the Mississippi River. (I’m not sure how or why this started, but we always did this driving over any decent-sized bridge.) Now when I cross the river, I hold out my phone, snap pictures, and hope I caught at least one good photo of the water.
They all look the same. A blur of water, a sliver of sky, and a reminder that objects are closer than they appear.
On my bucket list: a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi.
I don’t know why American Queen Steamboat Company hasn’t comped me a cabin and sent me blogging down the river. Other than the fact they have no idea who I am.
Tada! Lucy and Annabelle just got back from a much-needed day at the groomers. They look like schnauzers again and are walking the golden carpet of autumn wearing matching fall-themed bandanas (courtesy of The Whole Pet).
Really, the main reason I wanted to show you this picture isn’t to highlight their synchronized schnauzer skills, although they are on pointe. My primary reason is to show you the leaves.
I wonder if the leaves have any idea how stunning they are?
I wonder if the schnauzers know how synchronized they are?
Remind Me Next Summer
Can someone remind me next summer to mass plant Pentas and Globe Amaranth? Both annuals are beloved by butterflies, pollinators, and now, me. These flowers have been the stars of our garden this past spring and summer (and it was my first time to plant both). Here we are knocking on November’s door, and these beauties are still putting on quite the show.
While we’re at it, can someone remind me next fall to skip the pansies altogether? Or at least restrict them to containers on the porch?
I planted two flats of pansies three weeks ago and they look dreadful today because every single night a stealthy creature roots them up and scatters them in the bed. They become more and more bedraggled with each attempt to poke them back in the soil.
I suppose I should try to trap whatever critter is causing the ruckus. Armadillo, mole, possum, raccoon, squirrels, deer, who knows? Just somebody, anybody, remind me next fall to walk on by when flats of smiling pansies hit the nurseries. Or like I said, confine them in a pot on the porch.
Things Momma Says
(as I drove her to ER with a damp washcloth clamped to her bloodied forehead…)
I think this was my last homecoming reunion…
Well, there’s one good thing about getting conked on the head— it takes away your appetite.
Bye for now Sunday Letter friends. Wear your seatbelt so you don’t end up with Dr. Guinn shooting you up with numbing meds for Halloween. That’s a trick no one needs.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Glad to hear your Mother is on the mend and now close by.
Talya Tate Boerner says
Sharon Collins says
As always I enjoyed your letter. We moved from Blytheville to Richmond, Va in 1968 and I know exactly how you feel about the Mighty Mississippi. This summer I attended a US Army choral concert at my old church. When the most fabulous bass singer sang Old Man River I sat there and cried like a baby. Everybody around me including the singer probably thought i was crazy as a loon. My dad used to love that song and I am told that once he became quite ill, he became more sentimental. Now some people go on and on about going to the beach, but I must visit Barfield when I visit my family in Blytheville. I have to smell the atmosphere and I love when we go out there and see where someone shows their love by cleaning up/building something out there to enhance the experience.
Talya Tate Boerner (@GraceGrits) says
We have a lot in common! And yes, Old Man River is a powerful song. Have you ever seen the play Big River? Love the music in that play.
Cindy Lu says
Loved your Sunday letter, as always,Talya. This is my FAV time of year too. Love to hear your memories of growing up on the farm and the warm feelings it stirs in your soul when you cross the Mississippi. I feel much the same way you do.
I’m so glad to hear Aunt BAT is on the mend. I’d love to hear that whole story sometime. Were you in the car with her? So thankful it wasn’t worse, bless her heart! What an unforgettable welcome to NW Arkansas! (((Gentle Hugs!)))
It’s so cute and funny how synchronized the doggies are! Love seeing and hearing about them!
Also enjoyed reading Sharon’s comments, (above, from Blytheville), and going back to Barfield. We (too) visited there quite often with Mam-ma Ruby when kin-folks would visit Miss Co from the Okalona/Gurdon area. Their last name was Barfield as a matter of fact. Mam-ma’s niece was Freda Sue Barfield. They had kids named Connie and Gary that were around my age. We’d also enjoy going to Tomato and it was always humorous to us that a tiny little spot in the road was named Tomato. I also recall being hungry for tomato soup after each of those visits. Lol. I’m just so thankful to still remember those precious times of long ago.
Ok, I’ll hush now. I will let you know how my meatloaf turned out. Am using your recipe and can’t wait to dig in! It looks and smells heavenly! (I don’t have a big green egg but am cooking it in my big white oven.) Enjoy the beautiful day! Love you all…
Talya Tate Boerner says
Yes, Aunt Bat is on the mend! She gets her stitches out tomorrow. I had nothing to do with the accident other than I wasn’t around to drive her home:(
Thank goodness Barbara didn’t get hurt any worse than she was and that she is on the mend! She’ll change her mind before the next reunion. You might change your mind about pansies too but I doubt if setting them in pots will stop any critter from digging them up. Your puppies are adorable and the leaves are gorgeous there and here as well. The way the wind is blowing today the trees might be bare before long. Have a great week!
Talya Tate Boerner says
I’m sure you are correct about all these things!
Love the bat wine glasses. The story of her name and how she became BAT was entertaining. Hope she’s well on the mend. I remember holding up our feet when we crossed a bridge as a kid……no idea why though. I stopped planting annuals long ago in favor of perennials for less work; but as much work as they still are, don’t think I accomplished my goal. Love the ideas of planting for the butterflies.
Talya Tate Boerner says
Thank you! Holding your feet up – that’s funny! I prefer to plant perennials and natives but occasionally will add annuals for color. And for the butterflies.
Jenny Young says
I love your Sunday letters!
What is it about the Mississippi? I can remember the first time I crossed it. It was 1985, I was 19 yrs old & heading to St Louis from Chattanooga to meet my future in-laws (though I didn’t realize that at the time). Riding with my college boyfriend, crossing the big river seemed so romantic & adventurous to this little WV Appalachian. And honestly, I still have a romantic feeling when I cross it.
My husband lived most of his childhood around Hazen so the rice fields are one of his favorite views. The first time I saw southern AR he kept asking me what I thought. I couldn’t speak…this mountain loving girl absolutely hated it! All I could say was ..’It’s so flat.’ & not with much enthusiasm. I think he was pretty disappointed. But after a few yrs of spending vacations & holidays in Hazen, his southern grandmother had pulled me in as her own & over time the flat lands of Prairie county became just as beautiful & treasured to me as the majestic safe WV mountains of my childhood.
To this day when we leave northwest Arkansas to go to Hazen my husband says…well, we’re going to Arkansas. Even though he grew up near St Louis, his home was Maw’s house in Hazen where he spent all his preschool days & summers. So when we moved to northwest AR in 89, he could not wrap his mind around the fact the the Ozark mtns here were actually still Arkansas.
I didn’t mean to reply with a letter! But I am in love with Arkansas after living here so long.
I love your mamma’s sayings too. It would be pretty fun to have them in audio occasionally. I imagine she has the perfect southern grandmother voice.
Talya Tate Boerner says
I think a lot of people have the same initial impression that you did of the Arkansas Delta. “It’s so flat!” I had to get some perspective to properly appreciate it. Now I find it beautiful! I love your idea of What Momma Said in audio. I do have a recording of her making gravy at Thanksgiving. It is hilarious!
Ashley Pruett Nilssen (Cousin) says
So thankful that Aunt Barbara wasn’t hurt any worse and is on the mend! Prayers and get well wishes to her! <3
The first time Edgar came to visit from Norway the flat Delta farmland nearly took his breath away. He couldn't believe that it could be SO flat and wonderful for growing all sorts of crops! In Norway it is mountainous, curvy, cold so much of the time, and the growing potential is slim. The Delta- Mississippi County in particular will always hold a special place in our hearts since my Momma and half the family is from there and my Daddy, Pap-pa Ted, Uncle Tom, Uncle Esco, and so many others in our family farmed there. <3