This past week our nephew Bill and his wife Kris came down from Stockbridge to spend a few days with us. Bill lived with us for several years back during his teen years, so he’s practically one of ours, and Kris is a delightful addition to the family—funny, sassy, and sweet, all at the same time. Fortunately, she’s a dog lover. Our Charlie had her trained in less than a day. When he begged, she’d take him out to play ball. He kept her running the whole week. He wasn’t so sure about Bill’s character though because Bill lost his tennis ball. What kind of man would do that?
Tuesday, Bill and Larry went riding the country roads to see various places where the Ellis family share-cropped many years ago. Kris and I were invited, but we declined the trip. Later they told us that they saw old tobacco barns where they’d both worked and fields where they’d cropped tobacco. They passed creeks where they’d gone swimming to cool off after hot days in the fields. They spent hours driving the back roads and came back with peanuts in the back of the truck, but they’d forgotten the milk I’d asked them to pick up. Back to town they went.
“We’ll go tour the other side of the county,” they told us as they drove off.
“We might need to go get the milk ourselves,” Kris observed.
“They’ll probably be back sooner this time. I know they’re getting hungry, and lunch is almost ready,” I assured her.
I stepped to the stove to stir the red beans I’d been simmering with a ham bone and sausage all morning. The rice was ready, so I mixed the cornbread, poured it into the cast iron skillet, and slid it into the hot oven. As I sat down to wait for the timer, Charlie demanded that Kris play ball again and out they went. She can’t resist those big brown eyes.
True to my expectations, the guys came back with the milk this time just as the timer signaled the cornbread ready. No meal says country cooking better than red beans and rice, unless you add some collard greens on the side. Charlie even forgot about playing ball for a while as he worked on the hambone after lunch.
One afternoon Kris, Larry, and Bill spent a couple of hours shooting at targets out back. When they laid all the guns together on a plastic sheet, it was quite an arsenal. Kris learned the hard way that shotguns kick hard. Along with all the pictures she’d taken, she took an ugly bruise back home with her when she left.
The men piddled in the garden, talked motors and tools, and shared gardening tips. Conversationally, they rebuilt the house and decks about 4 times. Fortunately, they never got out saws or hammers.
Thursday morning, I was standing at the coffee pot when Bill came in covered in assorted scratches. There was blood on his forehead and his arm.
“Gosh, Bill, what happened to you?” I asked, handing him a wet paper towel.
“I got a few cuts and scratches running through the woods just now,” he replied. “I haven’t chased a deer through the woods in a long, long time. That was worth a few scratches.”
When we packed them off home Thursday morning, we gave them bell peppers from our garden, as well as assorted seedlings to add to Bill’s garden. We’d fed them K&L ribs for lunch, which Bill remembers from his youth as the best food in Baxley. He wasn’t disappointed.
When they were gone, Larry and I collapsed in the recliners, exhausted. Even Charlie collapsed on the floor. We didn’t realize how tired we were until we sat down, but the visit was wonderful. It’s so nice to have folks in our home that we can relax with. There was no need to entertain. Talking and visiting was quite sufficient. I did provide a steady stream of good home cooking though, except for the help from K&L on Thursday. And we assured them that they’d chosen the perfect time to visit south Georgia—cool enough to go outside with no gnats or mosquitoes.
Now that we’ve rested a bit, we can hardly wait for them to come again.