Before pigweed and meth took root in our county, before tractors became smarter than people, when each town had a cotton gin and a courthouse square, vibrant and spirited, we were young.
Before text messaging and likes and follows, before helicopter moms became a hovering, annoying thing, when farm-to-table meant suppertime—eat what’s served and don’t dare whine—we were kids.
Barefoot, we peddled our bikes along the banks of Little River, to our very own gully, the sand scooped out by nature and mounded into blinding white dunes. Powdery soft like Panama City Beach. Warm as a secret. Ideal for burying toes and sifting through fingers. Perfect for safeguarding dreams.
The bulk of our summer, we spent it there, only yards from Aunt Lavern’s kitchen window. A million miles away.
Remember when we were Little River pirates swinging driftwood swords, sun-bleached like bone? We scribbled pretend secret messages on oak leaves wide as paddles, sent them sailing down river to pen pals who didn’t exist. We were rich and famous rock stars belting our tunes across the wild grass. Soon, we’d take the world by storm. Three Dog Night. All girls though. We fell into a fox hole and woke in the Land of the Lost, lived with dinosaurs, survived on wild berries and muddy water siphoned from the river’s edge.
Would anyone miss us, notice us gone?
Back then, joy meant the splash of a sunning turtle. A boloney and cheese sandwich. Salty peanuts bobbing in a cold bottle of Coca-cola.
After the sun sank behind the river, we slept the sleep of the dog-tired young and the bone-tired dead, polka dot sleeping bags unrolled on the hardwood floor, beneath the dining room table, the window fan whirring all night. Later, when morning peeked into the window and tapped us on the sunburned cheek, we woke without ache or complaint. Another fresh day to roll in the palm of our hands, shape it into something snappy and light, skip it across the water with ease.
Again and again.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.