Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 236 - June 24th

Chatom, AL

We picked blueberries from the orchard and gathered them into buckets. The trees are positively bursting with their fruit. I could easily locate a cluster, gently drag my hand along them and watch them fall away into my palm. Abby, the younger tots Carabeth, Julianna and Jaden, and I spent a good couple hours picking but we hardly dealt a dent to the berry population. Hundreds of green berries remained; they will be ready by the time this wave of blueberries has been picked. Gerald and Jason were pressure washing the barn and I studied that process for a while. 

As it began to get hot, we tumbled indoors for a lunch of beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, okra, grey beans and creamed corn. Most of lunch was grown from the garden and knowing that changes my perception of the meal, perhaps even making it taste better. Julia’s homecooking is unbeatable though I suppose it can be matched by my own grandmothers and my mom. 

John, Dallin and Storm came over in the afternoon and we headed off to The Camp. We sat in the semicircle formed by the rocking chairs and porch swing. I could look out through the pine trees to the meadows as they talked and joked. I often lapsed into listening rather than contributing much to the conversation except to ask a clarifying question or two in order to prompt further stories. They related all sorts of stories about Chatom and its ~1200 inhabitants. There was a woman named Dixie, the sole heiress to a small fortune who met her untimely, suspicious end at the base of a cliff. A 16-year old girl stabbed her mother for taking away her cellphone. A girl from their school apparently slept with 20 different guys off of Craigslist who were literally lining up outside her door. Their town prostitute is called $5 dollar Charlotte. I heard all sorts of scandalous and hilarious tales and they flowed seamlessly one after another. 

They also regaled me with accounts of the many fights they’ve had between each other. I imagine conflict is inevitable when 5 teenagers from 2 different families are pushed into living quarters together. Fistfights, verbal barbs and pranks generally settled most differences. The consensus now seems to be that relations have finally normalized. Though they get exasperated and vent frequently, they even seem to like one another, each in his or her peculiar way. 

After dinner John, Abby and I drove to Gina’s house just as a lightning storm was rolling in and blackening the sky. Lightning flashed near us every minute and each bolt would startle Abby and cause her to yelp. Like her mother, she is not a fan of bad weather. John wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and had his head poking between the front seats and the novelty of lightning had me crowing with excitement as just the three of hurtled along the dark, deserted road, headlights shooting before us and illuminating our way. We made it safely back to Grammy’s house and we played cards with Gerald and Julia, a game called Rook that’s similar to Pedro. After the grandparents turned in, we three crept downstairs into the den where we talked late into the night as the rain and thunder railed outside. As our lids began to drag and we mumbled our sentences, the actual words grew unimportant. This often happens when you are with friends.

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