My great-aunt’s backyard, a thick expanse of spongy St. Augustine grass, led to the bayou, sloping into weeds, brambles, maypop vines, and mud full of all kinds of crawlies.
Once in a while I’d pick my way along the edge watching the deceptively sluggish Bayou Lafourche, hoping to glimpse a snake like the venomous water moccasin. I’m deathly afraid of snakes, and feared one would whip out of the water at me. Yet I’d peer into that brown water looking for one. And if I caught sight of a sinuous coursing, I’d stand repulsed and fascinated, and shiver as if a nest of spiders were crawling on me.
Yeah don’t know what I was thinking.
What’s up with naked dead women? Why’re people always hacking each other with chainsaws, axes, butcher knives? When the girlfriend is dead, quit talking to her! How many ways can you create a zombie? As many ways as there are stars apparently. Why’re you performing taxidermy on yourself? How come you’re walking barefoot through a black basement holding the weakest flashlight in the world? Dummy! Are there really that many abandoned asylums around? Oh wait–the latest thing is experimental addiction treatment centers. Best stay on the drug. Who really thinks swimming in a pitch-black lake out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by decaying forest is a good idea? I don’t care if you are camera-crazy, trespassing in the neighbor’s decrepit house so you can what–take cutting edge gothic photos of whatever you think you might find in the creepy basement? Really stupid. You know what happens to the girl who decides to walk to the country store through a forest at midnight to hitch a ride home ’cause she had an argument with her boyfriend? No matter ’cause we never run out of them. Rock music and screams get on my nerves. Country music and screams get on my nerves too. If you move into your new apartment and the guy next door is shy and sweet, keep your distance, unless you fancy leaking blood from your eyes in due time.
(Sigh) Really must cut down on the horror movies.
My love of tomatoes began with my great-aunt Stella. “Got a taste for tomatoes and vinegars,” she used to say. She had another name for tomatoes too–“wolf apples.” I don’t know where she got it–I was a little girl then and didn’t question my elders, but being of a fantastical turn of mind, I thought of werewolves ’cause I only knew about regular apples and if there were wolf apples, I figured werewolves must eat them.
Ma Stell grew a passel of tomato plants on a napkin of land next to her house on the levee. Big, fat, scarlet globes hanging from vines, giving off that pepperish green scent. She’d pick a couple, slice them, add salt, pepper, sprinkle on white vinegar, and, during the humid south Louisiana afternoons, we’d sit in the shade of the screen porch and enjoy our tomatoes. That was my introduction to the delectable tomato. Sliced, with salt, pepper, and vinegar is still my favorite way to eat them–only I’ve kicked up to balsamic vinegar. And it’s not a respectable green salad if there’s no tomato in it. Believe it or not, some restaurants will serve a green salad with just lettuce and dressing. The horror!
After college, living on my own in Southern California, I encountered cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, pear-shaped yellow tomatoes, heritage tomatoes! Got my first taste of those at a fancy restaurant–a purple and a yellow sliced and served with balsamic dressing and a little endive. Up until then, I’d been content with the flavorful red–when I could find them. I wasn’t too happy with the pretty but less than flavorful “wolf apples” at the local grocery store. The farmer’s market became my friend. Nothing enlivens the acidic depths of a salad like the lush honeyed flavor of grape tomatoes.
Did you know tomatoes used to be considered poisonous? According to Wikipedia, the tomato plant belongs to the deadly nightshade family, and was erroneously thought to be poisonous. But that idea was quickly dispelled once people discovered the luscious taste of the succulent fruit.
Tomatoes dress up so well. Quartered into salads, (except the pear-shaped yellows should be left whole or only sliced in half), they shimmer like jewels against the green melange of lettuces. Scoop out some fat ones, fill with guacamole (chop and mix the scooped out part with guacamole), stick a chip or two on top, and you’ve got a party tray. But the nicest thing about the tomato is it takes me back to those lazy afternoons on Ma Stell’s screen porch.
This is a memory from several years ago when I worked in Century City…
Crossing the pedestrian bridge I came upon a homeless man standing against the rail in the middle of the bridge connecting the two sides of Avenue of the Stars, holding a small sign requesting money for food, a cardboard sign made from the flap of a packing box, lettered with black marker.
I was on an errand from the office, in a rush, and like so many others I almost went past him, but his sign caught my eye and his solemn face stopped me in mid-stride. Since I brought my lunch every day, I got along with only a few dollars in my purse. I dug my wallet out of my jacket pocket. Folded thin between two bank cards was a single dollar bill, lone survivor of the twenty I’d had from the week before. I gave it to him and apologized that it was all I had. His soft, mobile face broke into a wide smile. He was missing several front teeth. He blessed me and thanked me in a heartfelt voice thick with gratitude. He wished me a good day. I thanked him and went on my way.
He leaned against the rail in the middle of the bridge on a sunswept Thursday afternoon, suits and clerical workers striding past, practically invisible, a shadow on the bridge.
Alrighty! As promised, here is Part 2 of my Liebster Award nominations. (I accepted in the previous post.) The Liebster Award is a chance to promote and endorse great small blogs. To accept the award, you create 11 questions for your nominees.
Ink In My Coffee. I’ve enjoyed reading Devon’s blog for years. She writes the Jain Lazarus Adventures and her blog gives insight into the day by day writer’s life.
There’s always something thoughtful or humorous here, spiced by the writer’s unique sense of humor.
Damyanti writes from Singapore, giving wonderful peeks into the exotic world of Malaysia.
Living The Writer’s Life. After years of persistence and hard work, Ruth just sold her first novel, SHADOW OF THE LION, an epic historical novel about Alexander the Great, scheduled for release in Summer 2014. I’m buying!
My friend Michelle kindly nominated pendrifter for a Liebster Award. It’s to endorse and promote small blogs. Getting nominated made me smile. I’m going to divide my response in two parts. For the first part, I’ll answer the 11 nominee questions.
1. What do you miss most about kindergarten? –I didn’t go to kindergarten. My schooling began with 1st grade (at an Air Force base school in Germany).
2. Who is your favorite bad guy and why? –Loki (Marvel’s The Avengers). He’s so full of himself, arrogant, witty, with a streak of megalomaniac psychosis, and has such a good time being bad.
3. Name your favorite fruit and why you chose it. –The pineapple. I love its yellow, jewel-toned interior, the way it smells and its sharply sweet taste with an indescribable note of flavor that has the aura of dream.
4. What’s the most recent good book you read? –-The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
5. If you could be anywhere at this moment (real or fictional), where would you appear? –Pompeii. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient cultures and I think there have been cultures and civilizations lost to human memory and buried in time so to see the remains of those places that once thrived with human life is stimulating. I would love to walk through Pompeii.
6. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? –I’d become more outgoing, less of an introvert.
7. On your blogsite, which is your favorite post and why? –-The Chicken Incident. It’s an old memory that reminds me of a moment of transformation.
8. If you were drafted to live in a biosphere with strangers for a year, what (not who) would you miss most about your present life? –Solitude.
9. What’s your trick to start writing for the day (or session)? –-I do a number of things—I’ll make coffee, and either write in my Moleskine journal or read an article on writing, or look through one of my writing books or read a few pages of fiction, or I’ll just sit down and think. It all depends on my mood.
10. What was your finest vacation experience? –-The Rhine River Cruise I took in 2012.
11. If you could live in any time, when would you choose? –-Being female and black, I choose Right Now. The past fascinates me and is great fodder for the imagination, but I do not glorify it.
Next time, the second part. Have to come up with a set of 11 questions and nominate other blogs for the Liebster Award.
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