16 June 2013

Squirrel Doesn't Taste Bad.

There's nobody you can't bribe with banjos, boobs, or booze. Well, nobody not worth bribing anyway. Where I'm from, hard work can get you far but a nip and a pluck will get you farther. The only thing going any further is a pair of nice boobs in nicer boots. Where I'm from, a girl like that can really rise to the top.
My boots? WOLVERINE!!
Where I'm from?
S'pose you could call it a "tiny rural community." I was raised on a few acres nestled deep in the Appalachian mountains. About 200 miles from any major cities and 100 years back in time from modern society. You need to get lost twice to find my homestead, and the second time should carry a hint of desperation. Of course, once you lose satellite, cell service, and GPS, desperation is pretty much all that's left. As all vestiges of hope have evaporated and your will to live has been replaced by flashbacks of Deliverance, you'll pass by the Waterville General Store and then you're practically home. Only another quick 15 mountain miles or so, but by then you'll be so happy to stand up that you hardly notice the chickens in the front yard.
I can see my red neck from here!
The smell of dinner wafting from the kitchen windows will pull you across the gravel and dirt driveway and into the single story home. The architecture of the century-old train station turned into a family residence will be lost on your senses as you focus on the delicious aromas filling the air. I may point to the old roofing eaves and tell of the lanterns that once hung there, but you'll just politely nod and wonder when we eat. I'll show you the door in the back that opens in two pieces, one at the top and one on the bottom, but I know your heart won't be into the Shining Times Station reenactment. It's hard to concentrate on dialogue when your stomach grumbles over the lines. 
Eventually we'll land in the epicenter of the house, the kitchen. When Mom gutted the train station to rebuild the house that she wanted (on the inside) she put the kitchen right smack in the center. From her place at her tiny formica table next to the stove, Mom could see into every room and monitor every door. Mom's gleaming white table was the exact distance from every exit of the house. Nary a mouse could cross the threshold without catching Mom's eye. Granted, she didn't do a damn thing when she saw the mouse, but he sure as shit did not go unnoticed.
Even though she had no idea we were coming, dinner is almost ready and Mom says we hafta wash up. I wouldn't piss her off about it either, that fry pan is the same one she used to beat the kids with. 
Most cast iron is seasoned with tears of country children.
Mom makes a killer fried chicken. She says the secret is in the flour and breading process but I think it's the gentle way she breaks their necks. She serves the juicy fried tenders with slow-simmered bourbon-brown sugar barbeque sauce, or just a nice fresh homemade ketchup if you prefer. I'm having mine with Rose Jelly. 
Cleaning your hands with the hose out back is just easier, it comes up faster from the well to that pump anyway. I imagine paying $2 for a bottle of water is going to feel pretty fucking ridiculous once you drink the best water ever right from your hands. 
Don't let the dog hump your leg. He gets excited over the hose.
Every vegetable on the table was grown out back. Mom has been planting her groceries all the years I've been alive. I didn't know food could be delivered until I was well into my teens. And then Domino's ruined it for me. I'll take Mom's hand-picked tomatoes and oregano on toast any day over crap-ass chain store "pizza." Our sauce is ALWAYS homemade around these parts, Papa John. And I know the guy that hand-slaughtered the pig for Canadian bacon. Mmmm. Bloody fresh.
This guy is here to lighten the mood. Don't get queasy on me now, I'll stop talking about butchering soon, I promise.
Hell, everything where I'm from is made from scratch. The age-old traditions of making food and booze are passed from generation to generation just as abundantly as these blue eyes. Good luck convincing me that store-bought cottage cheese and apple butter aren't poison. 
Culinary is not the only hillbilly art. Mom made my prom gown, watched me graduate high school, sewed the military patches on my BDU's, was there when I delivered my baby, and helped me make my wedding gown. In that fucking order too, haters. She sat beside me through years of bad health, knitting the entire time. I would be not surprised if she had turned hospital equipment into storage for leftover food. OTHER PEOPLE'S leftover food. She made slippers for my feet and hats for my bald head. She brought me aloe from her yard and spearmint from her windowsill.
Mom raised chickens and children and collected chainsaws and ex-husbands. She taught me how hard it is to be soft; I'd still rather be tough than easy. It's not pretty raising five kids in the poor mountains of Appalachia. I may not talk fancy like the city-folk I live near now, but I can throw a frog twenty yards and cut and stack a cord of wood faster than any of my brothers or sisters. I can also rebuild a small-block engine, shingle a roof, clean the creosote from a wood furnace, field-quarter a deer, smoke cheese, deliver kittens, drop a tree, clean a Glock, milk a goat, drive an 18-wheeler, shear a rabbit, drink a case of beer, make sausage gravy and biscuits from scratch, embroider, play the banjo, and brew my own beverages.
Recommended daily amount of fruit and grain.

I've lived in the city for nearly a decade. That's ten very long years that my neighbors have tolerated the sound of a banjo while things were being pickled. There are more plants growing on my deck than most city-folk see in a year. They would develop an allergy to vegetables so fresh. 
I spend many weekends in my stick-shift pickup truck, heading for the closest rendezvous I can find with the Appalachian Trail. When my feet touch the earth and I look up at the sun between the leaves, I feel home. I walk for hours along the dense woods, up and down and over and through. The sparse slices of the colored blazes leads me along and I grow calm as the forest riots around me. I remember moments of my youth; my mother's laugh, my brother's jiggly-belly dance. Occasionally, I tell a joke to the wilderness.
Knock, Knock.
Who's There?
Squirrels who?
Squirrels just wanna have fun!

The trees are prone to giggle at my stand-up.
Joleen Doreen is a mountain-grown specialty.

It pains me to raise a daughter as a city girl when I am so obviously country. I'm not even stereotypical country, I'm go'damn hillbilly country. *spits tobacco juice on own foot*
I'd like to teach my daughter a lot of things, I'm just not sure if I have the patience that my mother didn't have either. I definitely don't have the cast iron fry pan. And non-stick bends when used as an ass-paddle. I bet Mom wished she had her own website back in the day. The amount of inner peace that writing provides is a lifesaver at times. 
Take now, for example.
I've compiled this entire post while waiting for my kid to kill a tiny spider with a napkin. The first twenty minutes were spent squealing, so it's a wonder I got any writing done at all.
I didn't even ask her to save the carcass.