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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Cornbread and Iced Tea Of Life







Today I was floating in my swimming pool. Oh, did I not mention I have a pool? It's so big, it took my husband a long time to inflate it and fill it with water. It's big enough for one air raft and me.






Anyway, I was floating on my raft and looking at the different shapes the clouds make. I was reminded of summer afternoons long long ago, lying on the lawn watching clouds with my brothers, Joel and Steve. We'd be there watching the shapes and laughing for what seemed like hours. We were happy or at least content. We didn't have a lot of the things our friends had, but not having them, we never knew we wanted or needed them. Life is funny the way different societies define wants and needs.





I thought about this for a long time. What do I need to be happy? Am I happy now? I thought ,yes, but then I thought again and decided I needed a glass of iced tea. And not just any iced tea but the iced tea my grandma Belle used to make. She used loose tea and added a little baking soda while it brewed. I don't know why, but it was wonderful. Anyway, if I had a glass of Grandma Belle's iced tea, would I then be happy? No, I think I would need it just the way my dad drank it on a hot summer day. Daddy liked to drink tea from a quart size Mason jar. If you don't know what that is, it's a jar used for canning fruits and vegetables. He would fill it completely full of ice then pour the still hot and steeping tea over it. For some reason it just tasted better in those canning jars.





Daddy also sometimes poured milk over ice and added sugar and vanilla. It hit the spot if you were craving something sweet and didn't have the money for ice cream, and we rarely did.





My parents used to pour milk over crumbled cornbread and eat it like it was a real treat. I read recently this practice came about during the depression. It seems in the hardest times most people could still grow corn. These people, trying to feed their families, could either make and sell corn meal or moonshine, and usually did both. If you had nothing but cornmeal and hopefully milk, you had a meal. This may be where the term "comfort food" came from. And it's no wonder we use words like comfort and food in the same sentence. All through the Bible you see bread referred to as life or life giving. Jesus was the bread of life. He broke bread with his closest friends before he made that long walk to Calvary. When he returned to his friends he cooked them dinner while they had been fishing. What do we do when we get together with people we love? We eat.



My sister and brothers loved cornbread and milk also, and I know they had a few hungry days. They have teased me about being the "rich kid". I never had to pick cotton and Mom bought me a bike when it wasn't even my birthday. They have picked on me for good reason over the years. But they were there for me when my little girl died and for that, I will always be thankful. My family is the cornbread and iced tea of life.




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A wife, mother, and spoiler of small dogs, I grew up in a small West Texas town, with my eyes full of sand, and my heart full of joy.


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