If Mama Ain’t Happy….

…..heck, you know the rest.

And rest assured, my Mama, she ain’t nowheres NEAR happy!  I been layin’ low since nigh on breakfast yesterday.  That there’s when Daddy, him and Grandpap, ‘long with Linc and Lawrence, the big boys, they headed off to the ol’ Smoot place, down in the bottoms, hour ‘way as the crow flies.

An’ why they deigned not to be takin’ me, Liam Goodwell, third son and fifth chil’ of the Denton County Goodwells, and durned best mushroom hunter this side o’ God’s own heaven, why I’ll never know.  I can fair sniff them delectables out half mile ‘way, I can.  Them brothers o’mine, why, they ain’t got the sense the good God give ’em when it comes to mushroom huntin’.  They be right now stompin’ ’round in they big ol’ boots, smooshin’ and smashin’ greens and growths what could be hidin’ the most succulent, delicious treat known to man!

Oh, they think they know.  Oh, they be sure of it.  But durned if my gleenin’s ain’t always near double theirs.  They do consider themselves blessed I willingly share once we get back to the house with our lip-smackin’ treasures.

And true, ain’t nobody I’d rather have rustle up these heaven-sent prizes than my Mama.  Now, ain’t possible to spoil a mess of them delights, but when they done right, it’s right spiritual.   ‘Specially when my Mama, she makes ’em.  All slathered in cornmeal, salted and peppered and fried crispy brown and golden, blackened a bit in the insides, poppin’ in fresh o’l in Mama’s biggest cast iron skillet.  Takes a big ol’ mess to feed a family big as us Goodwells, but my Mama, she’ll stand hummin’ at that ol’ skillet till they all be fried and crisped to perfection.  I note she always saves the extra done ones, fairly burnt black, off to the side, slippin’ her a taste ever’ now an’ a’gin.  Cain’t blame her none.  Them morels is hard to resist.

Law, my insides be turnin’ summersaults and the memory of that mouthwaterin’ woodsy flavor is leavin’ me faint.  I can smell ’em cookin’ and taste ’em as I sit here, itchin’.

These here tidbits o’ de-vine deliciousness I be pinin’ fer?  Why, they be wild morels, fer ain’t nothin’ in the worl’ like ’em, and I be roiled with certainty they be the food angels will be servin’ when I pass through them pearly gates!  Finger length perforated and pleated, they resemble little white Christmas trees some,  clusters o’ sprouts what pop up in the most unexpected wooded places come springtime.  Lookin’ like mini-a-ture done eat corn cobs with little stumps what keeps mice and such dry durin’ spring rains, these rapturous morsels, they blind me fer near an’thin’ else what’s set before me on the dinner table.  They only come on ‘couple weeks o’the year, and some years, law, they don’t show ‘t’all.   Ain’t no rhyme nor reason. No cultivatin’ nor plantin’ nor plannin’.   Pop up ‘hind that stand o’ trees yonder this year?  No sign the next.  But go look down to the river, by them mossy rocks, and they they be, playin’ hide ‘n seek with those of us who has mouths a waterin’ for a personal pile o’ golden fresh mushrooms sizzlin’ and teasin’ on tonight’s plate.

Gotta step careful, light.  Keep your eyes peeled and your nose to the wind.  And, ‘course,  know the diff’rence ‘tween good ones and bad.  That there’s where brothers Linc and Lawrence, they fail.  They got they heads in the clouds half the time, be it rodeo (that’d be Lincoln) or runnin’ off to do some soldierin’ an’ be a he-ro (that’d be Lawrence).  Either path you choose, they be steppin’ all over my mushrooms and I’m near fit to be tied.

An’ this year, why, all I kin do is set and wait ‘fer them all to darken the door.  An’ watch Mama fussin’ and flusterin’ at the stove, back stiff with exasperation and displeasure.

For my Mama, she loves her her mushrooms near on as much as me.   And that them fellers left me behind, why, she’s beside herse’f, fearin’ (an’ rightly so, by my thinkin’) they’ll come back empty handed.

‘Course, they woulda taken me, (me and Mama, we venture they shoulda!), had not Doc Allen been by the house ‘couple days ago, examinin’ me, stem to stern.  Mama coulda tol’ him, law, I my ownself coulda tol’ him, but after his checkin’ and proddin’ and pokin, he pronounced, to no one’s surprise, “Liam, son, you got yerself a fine case of the Chicken Pops.  Best you stay out the sun, best you stay inside and he’p yer Mama fer the next week or so.  Don’t want nobody else a gittin’ what you got.”

Well, for ’bout a minute and a half, that forced re-laxation sounded plumb like a va-cation.  Till I thought o’ how Miss Meadow down to the school would fluster herself gettin’ work home fer me to complete, how the horses out to the pasture would whinny and neigh, as I can fair speak their language, how I am the durned last of the Goodwells to suffer this malaise and would gleen the laughs and torment I bestowed on all my brothers and sisters whist they was spotted and runny.

So yesterdee at the breakfast table, when Grandpap ‘nnounced Raymond down to the Feed and Seed, he seen fer himself a mess growin’ out to his back forty, we all set right up.  

“We goin’, Grandpap?!  We goin’?!”  I sang out, joyous.

Grandpap turned his clear as the sky blue eyes to mine, blinkin’ only once.

“We goin’, Liam, but boy, you shore ain’t.  Not with them specks you got.  Doc said sunshine might make you blind.”

Don’t mind.  Don’t care.

“But Grandpap!”  I began, stunned.  Felt Mama step behind my chair, hands on my shoulders, “Now Daddy,” she begun, but Grandpap, he held up a firm hand, bade us both be silent.

“Won’t have it, won’t have none of it.  Liam, ” he looked me dead on, “Son, we’ll miss you, boy, but it’s ’bout time somebody else in this clan learn to sniff out them ‘shrooms.”

And with that, it was done.  Linc and Lawrence, they gathered they kit fer an overnight, and stomped out to the back porch, screen door slammin’ ‘hind.  

And so, I got me the Chicken Pops, and covered in oozin’ speckles and itchy like a house a’far, I ain’t s’posed to see the light ‘o day, ‘ccordin’ to Doc Allen.  So here I set, me and Mama, hopin’ and prayin’, but fair knowin’ we”re likely bound to be waitin’ till nex’ Spring.

That be be yesterdee.  This be today.  And me and Mama, we ain’t neither of us happy.

I am a’itchin’ in more ways’n one, I tell you what.

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She Be Comin’ ‘Roun’ the Mountain!

“Somethin’s got into Luce!”

“You see her out yonder?  You see what she’s doin’?”

Now what you need to understand is, my sister Luce, near on a full year older’n me, she ain’t jest faster’n me, an’ taller’n me, and sly-er’n me all day long, why, she’s meaner’n me, too!  She turned fourteen last week, and we had us her fav’rite dinner (chili and cornbread with them little vienna sausages all smothered underneath) and sang her “Happy Birthday!”  Were you to know Luce, she don’t take kindly to havin’ much attention throwed her way, but tell the truth, she come near to smilin’ once or twice.

She’s a mean one, but she’s got her a good heart.  Least that there’s what I tell all my chums.  We fellers, we sit together on the fence shootin’ the breeze ever so often, and these fellers, they all tense up real tight when Luce throws them a glance.  Reckon the fact she beat all them upside the head more’n once over time, well, I’d tense right up, too.  And, well, since I seen the back side o’ her hot head, I do.

Here today, though, we got us a di-lemma.  Twins Lawton and Lewis, never one far from t’other, they come runnin’ to where I was out to the paddock out front of the kittywompus gray barn, both huffin’ and puffin’ and wavin’ like they was swattin’ bees.

“Liam!  Liam!  Somethin’ got into Luce!  She’s gone plumb crazy!”  That there was Lewis.

Then, “LIam!  Liam!  Somethin’ got into Luce!  She’s gone plumb crazy!”  That there, that was Lawton.

Figurin’ these two was teasin’ me an’ playin’ a prank, as they are wont to do reg’lar,  I give ’em a fine view o’my back whilst I pitchforked hay into the trough.

“Got work to do, boys,” I said.

“Liam!”  One or t’other grabbed my sleeve.

“Liam!”  One or t’other grabbed my other sleeve.

“Come look!  Come look!”

So.  Given they ‘ppeared truthful and sincere, I let them grubby ornery seven-year-old hellion brothers o’mine pull me out the paddock and out to the edge where the paddock meets the pasture , and the meadow out yonder meets that.  

Well, sir, that’s when it dawned on me what them two was pesterin’ me ’bout, it rung true!

Somethin’ shore had plumb got into Luce!  

A’way out yonder, out where them clovers and Velvetleaf and Cream Wild Indigo and Yarrow grow wild, why, smack in the middle o’all that purtiness sproutin’ from God’s green earth, was none other than mean ol’, sly ol’, hard hittin’, gristly Luce.

A doin’ what?

Well, a’smilin’, fer one thing.  Law! 

“See, we tol’ you!”  Lawton or Lewis nodded knowin’ly.

For what ‘fore my  my wonderin’ eyes did appear?  Why, not only Luce a’smilin’ fer all she was worth, but  Luce a’pickin’ flowers!  A’pickin’ flowers!  Luce!  And what’s more’n that, she be singin’ to the top o’ her lungs, and if I didn’t know better, it was some…., some…., some itchy smoochy love ballad we hear ever’ so often on the Opry’ come Saturday nights.

Made my skin crawl!

An’ beyond that?  Law, if she didn’t so a little jig and dance and spin herself in a circle!  

That she turned jest that moment and seen us starin’, all googly-eyed from up in the yard, well,  that there was a moment what went on for e-ternity, till she throwed them flowers to the wind and lit out our way ninety to nothin’,  dragon blood in her eyes, I jest knew it!  And with oil black terror in our hearts, we lit out our ownselves!  

Now, we got us long memories, we Goodwells. And we loves tacklin’ ourselves a problem.  And tackle it we would.  

Right now, though, our problem at hand was a demon-possessed son of a gun big sister what could take us all with one hand tied ’round her back!

Safety first!

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“No Easy Walk to Freedom”

Welcome to Belles and Whistles and April’s Writing 101!

Jump on board as today, we’re FREE WRITING!  (which to my mind means no edits, no spell correct, no inhibitions, no stops.  Be afraid, very afraid….

When given the opportunity, and I do consider this an opportunity, to write freely, why the word freedom came to mind.  Imagine.  And the partial Nelson Manela quote rose to the top of my brain immediately.

Let’s set the stage.  I’m about as “white bread” (white “bred?! HA!) as they come.  Raised in a fairy tale midwestern family, family dinners every Sunday, tree houses, Grandmas and Grandpas at every turn, good grades, grassy fields, Sting Ray bike with a white banana seat, I lived the life no one believes ever really existed.  

Always protected, but never sheltered, freedom of thought, freedom of action, freedom of belief, these were all givens, and yes, discussed freely, as well.  Often loudly and with opinions as diverse and changing as the fluffy clouds crossing our blue, blue skies.  So often, the idea of freedom is claimed by those who seem deprived of it, or are deprived of it.  And rightly so.  But those of us who for some reason the universe has blessed, we value it as well.

Oh, sure.  

But that the pain of wrong twists the hearts of those who may not be that moment wronged is wrenching, have no fear.  And for that reason, so many “freedom blessed” walk along side, raised hand in raised hand, with those seeking the same.  

For only in that way, we are ALL on the same path.

For only in that way,  we are ALL headed the same direction.

Truly, there is NOT an easy walk to freedom.  But getting there together eases the pain.

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