Saturday, April 20, 2013

Conversations, generations and a few pots and pans


I always enjoy trips to see my family in Savannah. When you have three generations of women under one roof for a weekend, there is rarely a dull moment. Our conversation has consisted mostly of…

Well Mama I just don’t know”
      and...
Honey, you need to put some meat on your bones
      and...
Here’s your wedding present now because I’ll be dead by the time you get married
      and my personal favorite...
GINNNGGGEERRR!!” hollered all the way from the bathroom to the kitchen. It may be annoying and personal and blunt, but I love it.

I like that in moments of forgetfulness my grandmother goes through all of her sisters, daughters and granddaughters before she gets my name right. I like that she and my mother argue about the way they cook ham, but their grits taste exactly the same. I like that we all enjoy watching the birds out the window in the morning, we all like figuring out a good puzzle, and we are all terrible at sitting still. There is no doubt that I am my mother’s daughter, and she her mother’s daughter.

I wrote a poem about Savannah once. It wasn’t very good, it was for an English project and I had to use an example of alliteration. Maybe I’ll go find it and post it later. Anyway every spring a few lines of it get stuck on repeat in my head.

“Savannah, sweet Savannah in the spring
Sing softly to me sweet Savannah.”

Creative, right? There’s just something about the rows and rows of blooming azalea bushes and the Spanish moss drooping down from the new green trees that make me long to visit every spring. It’s soothing to me. In all honesty, Savannah is old and dirty, but somehow come spring all of its mystery creeps back in, and I just want to roam the historic streets for hours and get completely lost.

Today we drove down those oak-lined streets and my mother and aunt and grandmother pointed and remembered…

Your Aunt Wauweese started her loan business down that street.

I was only 12 and those girls pulled my ponytail and I screamed and they chased us all the way to that theater.”

I used to catch the train out here when I worked in D.C. during the war and your grandfather was deployed in France.

What gets me about Savannah, and here on the farm – is the depth of history. And not just any history really, it’s the history of my family. The stories scattered across this land are as countless as the seeds my grandfather would plant every spring. They’re timeless, piling up year after year way before I ever existed, and yet I am strangely connected here because of them.

Tonight my grandmother went through all of her dishes and gave me the ones she doesn’t use anymore. Some of them were her mothers. And I felt a strange sense of responsibility grow inside me as she pulled out drawers and dug around for pots. Perhaps I’m being nostalgic or romantic, but seriously how many meals have these dishes seen? All prepared by well-worn hands to feed hungry bellies over generations.

I know they’re just pots and pans. But call it what you will, heritage, birthright, legacy, whatever – I feel honored. And grateful that someone has the decency to give a young single woman some cooking utensils. It’s a bit ridiculous that you have to be getting married for people to give you free cooking supplies. I feel like most men would prefer their future spouses to know how to cook before they get married anyways.

Am I right? Yes and a bit sarcastic. (sorry!) All of this to say, I am grateful for the men and women who have gone before me and proud to be who I am today in part because of them. And I do hope I learn to cook half as good as my mother so I’ll have something to pass on to my daughter besides a few burnt and blackened pots. 

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