It takes less than a few seconds to feel the change. Suddenly I am two feet shorter, my legs bare and sun-kissed swinging haphazardly a foot off the ground as I try to make the slightly rusted aluminum chair rock. To my left is the drugstore checker set, waiting for its players to resume their game, a jar of ‘red hots’ squeezed between my thighs, the smooth glass of the jar pressed against my skin- ‘cinnamon berries’ my great-grandmother would call them.
That memory sneaks up on me unexpectedly, like a stranger who stops you on the street to return the $20 bill that fell unnoticed from your purse. I wiggle my toes and as I stare down at them, the cement suddenly changes to the bright green ‘grass’ doormat, its plastic daisy looking more grey than white thanks to countless scrapping shoes and foot traffic. I never liked that doormat, or the itchy plastic outdoor carpet that covered the front porch.
I fold my right leg under me and settle in for the task at hand. I don’t mind it now, but I remember being bored by the chore as a tow-headed child, wishing rather to finish whatever book I was engrossed in or walk up to the corner store for a pink lemonade Jolly Rancher and a pack of Fun-Dip. Now there is something meditative about the process. It’s satisfying. The simplicity, the texture and sound, the mindlessness of it begins to lull me. I breathe in the wet, green smell and leaning back in my chair with my eyes closed I can almost imagine myself back in Kentucky on the front steps of my great-grandmother’s house.
“Snapping beans”, that’s what she called it- at least to my memory, and it is just what it sounds like- popping the ends off of freshly washed green beans. Snapping the ends into a bucket due for the compost heap, I smile and enjoy being outside in the fading sunlight of a warm Florida February evening. Snapping beans…
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Ok this one is a bit more nonfiction than fiction, but we’ll let that slide for a night, won’t we? After rushing home early due to a strong reaction to something I ate at lunch (I believe I’ve mentioned before how unpleasant it is to be ‘sick’ in a public university bathroom) and recovering for most of the afternoon on the couch I woke up hungry- guess the tank was on empty thanks to my earlier ‘stomach issues’. Ahem… Having purchased some fresh veggies last night in an attempt to add more ‘green’ to my diet, my sights landed on the package of fresh green beans. Quickly rinsing them in some cold water, I grabbed a bowl and paring knife and headed outside. Setting the beans next to me, I began the task of trimming them for dinner- and before I knew it, I was 10 years old sitting on my great-grandmothers’ front porch ‘snapping beans’. Funny how small, insignificant tasks can suddenly whisk you down memory lane. By the time I had reached the last bean (by this time I had forgone the knife and was using my hands to ‘snap’ the ends off) I was a little sad that I was out of beans. Sitting quietly in my backyard, watching the clouds roll by and the birds swoop through the trees, feeling the sun on my skin and the wet velvety texture of the beans in my hands- it was like bottled happiness. Oh, and the beans turned out delicious. 🙂
Love & Squirrels.