Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sweet Sweet Tea

My mother had surgery today. It went very well and the doctors think she is going to be OK. Driving back down to her house in the country, I was practically giddy with relief. What a summer this has been. Oh, and it's summer here all right. I've been in the frigid north for so long that I was concerned about how well I'd stand up to triple-digit heat. I needn't have worried though; as soon as I stepped off the plane, all that soft sweet humidity drifted over me like a well-worn cloak -- one I miss when I'm not wearing it. I reckon it suits me; I can take it off, or have a glass of iced tea to forget it, but I can't cast it aside.

This summer has caused me to decide that life is very strange, but sweet tea is a balm for the soul. It's in my mother's refrigerator, and it's also in every refrigerator up and down this road. I know this because it's my road. I was born right here and when I die, I'll come back here for good. The light in the little church tower is still a beacon to call me home.

I haven't spent the night down here in years, but it's as if I never left. Sandy, Uncle Ewell's daughter (Uncle Ewell was my great grandmother's brother) lives across the street; cousin Jean is next door, and Willie's son Don took over the store and carries on the tradition of cooking the best barbecued ribs in the South. Agnes the frog's great-great-great grandchildren live out under the magnolia tree even now, and if you looked at a handful of the dirt outside under a microscope, I suspect it would match the pattern in my DNA.

I have to go now -- the crickets in the fields are calling me ... and the stars ...