louisiana memory

Skittle Players Outside an Inn, Jan Steen

I’m home today waiting for a repairman who is supposed to be here between 8 and noon. It’s 10:20 now and I’m thinking he’ll probably get here just at noon. Don’t know if I’m going to make it into the office at all.

Now and then I think about Louisiana, about my years growing up there on and off between traveling to live elsewhere when Daddy transferred between Air Force bases. My memories of Louisiana are soft and vague in many ways and vivid in others. I remember dragonflies, violet and green, their wings glistening in summer sunlight. And four o’clocks that closed when you touched their sun-sensitive leaves, fireflies at dusk, and moths immolating themselves on Aunt Nora’s porchlight. I remember strongly the pecan tree that stood in Aunt Nora’s front yard and, lingering still in my memory, the narcissus growing by the ditch. The paper-white blooms gave off a musky perfume, honeyed and woodsy.

I loved gathering pecans, plucking them from among layers of brittle leaves and tangled grass. I see the hard brown ovals of shell with zig-zags of black capping the pointy end. My fingertips used to be sore from shelling the nuts to make pecan candy. There is nothing like the taste of a fresh pecan, that rich buttery-nut flavor, faintly resinous. Aunt Nora (my great-aunt) also had what she called a Japanese plum tree–a loquat tree I know now. I found its yellow fruit exotic and delicious but it didn’t bear often or maybe the birds ate the fruit before it could fall. I rarely found any in the grass beneath the tree. The tree was too tall for me to reach any fruit on even the lower branches and climbing it was out of the question. A large piece of tin lay against its trunk and once I sliced my leg on it. I tended to avoid that tree after that.

Behind Ma Stell’s house was the bayou, brown and still. Stories of cottonmouth snakes kept me from getting too close to it. If I saw a ripple on its opaque surface, I knew it was a snake, and I would scare myself with visions of it lancing out of the water at me. (Now there’s a memory I don’t need.)

I’ve been at work on Sweet Taboo this morning, and the word count is bleeding, had to chop out a significant portion–a duplicate scene and a few other scenes that don’t fit anymore, but which I hope to salvage later. Took a break to blog; now I’m getting back to work–have to do some thinking.

Oh, thanks to everyone who enjoyed Janet’s interview. If I can persuade any other writers I know, I’ll post more interviews.


2 thoughts on “louisiana memory

  1. That’s a gorgeous piece of writing. Talk about tone!

    P.S. It also reads a lot like my backyard! LOL!

    BTW: Are you a by-the-seat kind of writer or a plotter?

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