by James R. Campbell
I remember the time when we could get fresh produce from a garden. Although it was many years ago, it seems like only yesterday. Rarely, if ever, do we get fresh produce like that today.
When I was growing up, Dear and mamma used to take me to Bryan County in Southeast Oklahoma. We knew we could count on fresh fruit and vegetables once we arrived at Mamma’s old house in Calera.
Leave it to Frank Shannon to bring garden fare to us. He would show up with fresh green pinto beans, squash, okra, new potatoes, and tomatoes for Dear and Mamma. We were glad to see him. Mr. Shannon was an old man who visited us many times when we were on vacation. He never failed to stop by with fresh food from his garden.
Mamma would bring the beans for me to snap; that was a job I always enjoyed. The green pintos are a flat bean that has a unique flavor to them. I would snap the beans for Mamma; then she would put them on with the new potatoes. She would fix the squash; sometimes she boiled it and mashed it for buttered squash, sometimes she fried it after it was dredged in seasoned cornmeal. The okra was fried or boiled. Any way she prepared it, it was good.
What Mr. Shannon didn’t bring, family supplemented. Aunt Sylvia and Aunt Hellen both had gardens. They would bring extra veggies to us. In the summer, we would make homemade peach ice cream with an old-fashioned hand-cranked freezer, and Mamma would make fresh blackberry cobblers. We would get fresh honey from Uncle Jerry’s bee hives. When we left, we would wind up with plum jelly, pear preserves, and blackberry jam. Before Aunt Hellen died, she would send us canned green beans, peas, and pickled squash. Even today, these are treasures that are sorely missed.
Here in Odessa, we have no choice but to go to the farmer’s market, or a vegetable bender, if we can find one. We were fortunate to find a man yesterday who had fresh squash. I also got some fresh peaches, and we bought watermelon and cantaloupe. Every summer, I hope for the time when Dear and I can find good fresh produce, and the memories it brings. We were healthier when we had it, and better off for it. It is too bad we can’t enjoy it more often, but we are glad when we can.
About the Author
James R. Campbell, 61, is poet and writer living with total blindness. He has a Bachelor’s in psychology. He has written articles for the Matilda Ziegler Magazine and Consumervision. A a member of Behind our Eyes, Campbell has three poem collections on CD. They can be downloaded at Recordinglibrary.org. In his free time, he likes cooking, playing harmonica, reptiles, and keeping up with current events.