Back Then

I can’t remember the sound of my Granny’s voice. And don’t really recall her talking all that much. Maybe by the time she got to her age there wasn’t much left to say.

Back then she worked in the garden with my grandmother in the summertime. I played in the dirt or ran through the tall rows of cornstalks.

I remember looking up into the tall trees that seemed to touch the sky. The green leaves seemed to hold onto the edge of the sea of blue, like someone linking hands.

I recall the hard red dirt where I played with my marbles. I didn’t know there was any other dirt besides red dirt. I thought red dirt left my little county and traveled clear across the world to everyone’s yard where every child played.

And chicken frying. I can remember the sound as the pieces of chicken met the lard and the black skillet would send up a hiss and sizzle. I loved fried chicken more than just about anything..

Fried chicken with beans and mashed potatoes and fried okra and cornbread. And sliced tomatoes from the garden.

In the summertime I remember how the glass of sweet tea felt in my hands as the ice cubes melted and the glass got slick. Nothing quenches my thirst better than a tall glass of sweet tea.

I recall the way the little stove that warmed the house looked on winter nights. Blue light when it came on and then melted right into orange and yellow flames as heat was released. A quilts my Granny made was wrapped around me.

I try hard to see all that was there back then. I see little flashes in my brain, little misfired memories that melt away about as fast as they come. Like lightning darting across the sky.

So quick, and then the light is gone. Blended right back into the blackness of receding memories.

But I can feel it. The life I had back then.

I can see myself chasing the lightning bugs right about the time it got dark. They blinked as I ran by the light of the stars that were embroidered across the never ending darkening sky.

In the morning the smell of gravy before I even reached the kitchen. Breakfast would be white gravy ladled over biscuits fresh from the oven.

I remember opening the ramshackle door of the hen house and walking inside. It was kind of dark aside from the sun slanting in through the cracks and spilling across the old wood floor.

I can see the the little feathers dance in the still air when I reached under a hen to get her egg and gently put it in my basket.

Anything was possible back then. When you’re a little girl the whole world is out there waiting for you to see it. Some day. But back then my boundaries was within the fence that went around the property.

That fence kept my little world in and the big wide world where anything could happen out. At arm’s length. Years away. The world was what I saw from watching TV and hearing people talk about places they’d been.

My idea of going places was running through the tall grass out toward the rusty gate out back. It seemed endless, that expanse of grass that unfurled before me.

Growing up seemed oh so far away.