Well, I hope y’all had a Happy Mother’s Day. We met the kids on their way back from beach at the Peach Park in Clanton. Chilton County Peaches are well known- they aren’t ripe yet- but this combination of farmer’s market and restaurant includes sandwiches and cobblers, fried pies and homemade ice cream almost all year round. It is a favorite stop for those on their way to or from the Alabama Beaches.
We drive the back way, on rural county roads. I amuse myself by writing down names of places, church signs, businesses and the sights of the countryside. This year, I noticed that every Dollar General we passed had folks boiling out-probably pickin’ up a card, gift or supplies for Mother’s Day. Near Beaver’s Collison and Auto Body Shop, a wooden floor had been set up, I said, ‘family reunion’…he said, ‘tent revival’ – in the rear view mirror I said he was right since there was a big white van with Independent Holiness Church on the side. Down the road a bit was a cemetery. A family was having a ‘flag ceremony’ for their loved one. There was a full size American flag and a full size Crimson flag with a big white Alabama ‘A’ on it. A good sized group was standing around. This is the South, folks like to personalize their funerals. This is Alabama where folks love God, country, their mommas and take a firm stand on football- Auburn or Alabama.
I began to sing -‘When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll…Tide!’ He cut his eyes over to me- I said ‘well, that’s how we sang it at Campus Crusade meetings when I was at Alabama’. I saw a church sign which said ‘Have an Epic Mother’s Day’ …am still wondering what that would entail. It has been said that a mother loves the black sheep of the family the most. I thought about that when we cruised at 25 miles per hour through a small town, past the city hall – several people were milling around the parking lot by the jail. A pickup truck had the tailgate down with a picnic going on- men and women in tank tops sporting tattoos alongside men with short sleeved shirts and ties, seemed to be having a good time. There were women sitting in the back seats of sensible sedans. I wondered if momma was brought over to the jail to visit the black sheep or if it was momma they were visiting. Either way, you can mark it down that her knees were worn out from praying for that bunch. Out front of the Farmer’s Co-Op there was a sign that said- ‘Onion Sets, Seed Taters, Mater Cages’- the owner is a clown. A truck farmer was setting up shop with some good looking spring Vidalia Onions with thick green tops. Past fallow farmlands that would soon be sprouting cotton or stands of corn, we saw a hand lettered sign- ‘Gourds for Sale’ – Get those now! put ’em up for the purple martins! keep the skeeters away! – is what I always think.
We passed a sale lot filled with new tractors and backhoes and a cute shop called ‘bulbs.sprig.birds.chirp.’ – and a beauty shop called ‘Shear Elegance’- probably worked overtime on some epic Mother’s Day hairdos; another church sign- this one said ‘God plus one is a majority’ – I actually think God is a majority all by Himself. We were listening to music on Garrison Keiller’s Prairie Home Companion- folks singing ‘wicked path of sin’ songs. We decided to stop and use the facilities at a gas station. I heard a woman checking out say- ‘We picked up the chicken and biscuits, stopped at the grocery store, got the cake, then we called Rusty, he had just gotten up, stayed out all night and was sleepin’ it off’…yes, ‘wicked path of sin’ songs were in order. Right across the interstate from the gas station was the big water tank painted to look just like the biggest peach you ever saw! Two more exits down, ‘which way?’ – we were behind a car with a specialty tag that read- GoneWTW- I said ‘go left’. When we got to the Peach Park, we pulled in, got a good parking place, folks were sitting in the big rocking chairs, or bringing out boxes of fried pies and barbeque, one couple had bought a gallon of peach ice cream- probably to take up to momma’s. A big man and a little woman came out with big bowls of ice cream- she slid daintily onto a picnic bench, he hiked his leg over the bench as it groaned- ‘um baby, this sure does look good, don’t it?’. Our children were already there- I wanted to say- ‘um baby, they sure look good, don’t they?’ We ate our share of the bounty, I took some pictures of past Peach Queens- which line the walls.
For my gifts-the kids brought me a quart of gumbo from Doc’s Seafood Shack in Orange Beach, two boxes of Peeps and a mug with ‘Mom’ on the side and ‘love’ on the inside-exactly what I wanted. I almost cried.
When they got in the car to leave I wondered if they knew that our hearts were travelling in the car with them. On the way home, several times my eyes filled with tears, I looked out the window often. We passed over Beeswax Creek- I sniffed big- he said ‘What is it?’ I said ‘none of your beeswax’, and got tickled. Right after we passed the ‘Red Barn Bent and Dent Grocery’ but before you get to the ‘Dixieland Trading Post’- I thought about that church sign- ‘Have an Epic Mother’s Day’; I’m still not sure what epic would entail, but any day you get to be with your children is an epic day, especially when the nest has emptied. On those days-I can honestly say, ‘It is well… it is well…with my soul, it is well, it is well…with…my soul! Roll Tide.
Love y’all, Camellia
- feel free to take sides and add ‘War Eagle’…