Hey Sunday Letter friends! After five days of horribly humid weather, we got a little rain. Saturday felt downright fall-like. By far the best thing about my week? I got my hair cut shorter than it’s been in some time. Seriously, I don’t know why I waited so long.
The worst part? That Razorback football game last night. We knew it would be a long, rebuilding season. My very own garden hog foreshadowed it only days ago like Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter.
One thing I know for sure… the heartbreak hogs can bring a fan down. But I’ll not dwell on the negative. After all, many Sunday Letter readers claim winning teams. I’m looking at you, Alabama-LSU-Oklahoma friends. And let’s not forget, my Baylor Bears are 2-0. Living here in Fayetteville, sometimes I feel very far away from my own alma mater.
Ok, I didn’t mean to get off on football so let’s move on to more pleasant memories.
Like my Aunt Virgie.
Writing on the Wall
Aunt Virgie lived in dilapidated farmhouse on Johnson Road near Carroll’s Corner. For most of her life, she had no inside running water. Most of her possessions—a pie safe, a Singer sewing machine (base-mounted with a pedal), an iron bedstead—could have been loaded in the back of cousin Gary’s pickup and hauled away without barely a thought. From the outhouse and chicken coop to her low-slung ceilings and walls covered in newspaper, everything about Aunt Virgie’s house beat with a uniqueness found no where else in my world.
Are you old enough to remember walls papered in newspaper? Back before we became a disposable society, NOTHING was wasted. Old newspaper proved to be an inexpensive way to cover the walls. It added insulation too.
I tried to read her walls as we walked through the dimly lit den to the back bedroom where Aunt Virgie kept a stack of old coloring books and a coffee can filled with broken crayons. I considered those newspapered walls to be the most creative thing ever. Never did I associate it with being too poor for real wallpaper.
Kindness and poor were mutually exclusive in my mind.
Sometimes I think it’s too bad we don’t age backward. If we did, we’d be wiser earlier and ask all the questions we wonder about now. Questions about her little house, her marriage to Uncle Jess who always seemed old and mean and scary to me, if she wallpapered those rooms with her own hands. If anyone helped her? How she made perfect pie crust. Who planted the grape vines near the side of the house?
Those sort of things.
Turns out, Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor. Not that I really ever doubted it. Most of the women I know are hilariously funny.
Take a gander at these phallic-shaped mushroom growing beneath one of my milkweed plants. This is a great example of why I love to explore my garden every morning. You never know what might pop up from one day to the next.
This Phallus Rubicundus mushroom is part of the stinkhorn variety. These guys love to sprout in mulch and are said to smell like rotting meat (although I didn’t notice an odor nor did I really try to sniff them). Spores are spread by flies attracted to the sticky substance released on the cap-end.
They withered away quickly when the weather cooled.
And there you have it. Football gods, nature goddesses, everyone’s a comedian. Several puns intended.
Another Garden Surprise
Back in early spring while volunteering at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, I received cuttings of a plant from an area we were thinning. I thought someone said it was aster. I took it home, planted it in a bare spot that absolutely begged for purple blossoms. For months I’ve been watching it grow and spread. Buds formed. While it seemed early for aster, I’ve been predicting an early fall since July. So I believed.
Suddenly it burst into bloom.
I guess I should have realized the leaves were different from the other aster growing in our backyard. It’s true. Sometimes we believe what we want to believe about people, places, flowers. When true colors are revealed, we couldn’t be more surprised.
Flower people—do you think this is a coreopsis variety? I’m not sure.
Pig on the Porch
We bought this pig planter at Daisies and Olives during a Labor Day shopping excursion to Prairie Grove. Isn’t she the cutest porch greeter ever??? We decided to fill her with an asparagus fern for fall. And now she’s a happy Chia Pig who doesn’t give one oink about football.
School Kitchen Tip:
Do not buy bacon by the pound, nor have it cut in thick slices if cut at the market, but purchase it by the whole strip, freshly cured. It will keep well if the paper and burlap cover are replaced whenever opened, and is as much a necessity in the storeroom as is a supply of flour, sugar, or any other staple article of food. It has no equal as an appetizer for breakfast or in helping out when there is but a limited supply of other meat. The fat of bacon is one of the most easily digested forms of fat, as the curing and smoking seem to have given it some qualities which render it less objectionable than when fresh. Many physicians prescribe it in place of cod liver oil. (The School Kitchen Textbook, Mary J. Lincoln, 1917, Lesson XVI Fats / Pork Products)
Cheers to the week ahead, Sunday Letter friends. Eat some bacon, look for humor and beauty in the ordinary, and as we approach September 11, never forget.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Don’t Bring Me Down, ELO