The Cahoons–Rich and Eunice–are coming tonight. Rich is Dave’s first cousin. There are lot of hilarious stories about mischief surrounding those two and can’t wait to hear some more, or maybe even the same ones I’ve heard before.
I love company. I like cooking and serving and talking. I even enjoy the preparations. Two days ago, when Dave was working furiously on some decorating project for the porch, he mentioned that I seem to procrastinate these things until company is coming. He pointed out that I’ve had the old windows he worked on for at least two months.
“You’re right,” I said. “Company coming seems to get your attention.”
So now the rotten old salvaged windows are hung on the porch along with some other wall decor. Today we’ll clean the porch and make the bed. Dave will pick up a few items from the grocery store and we’ll be good to go for Rich and Eunice.
Dad and I are working on a project on the grounds, one that will not be hurried. Last summer, we lost almost all of our roses to the unstoppable RRV (Rose Rosette Virus). I determined to turn the rose garden around the patio into a butterfly garden. I started collecting plants last fall. There were asters and Rudbeckia on one nursery markdown table, and gaura and lavender on another. I moved irises and daylilies from the lower gardens. This spring I dug in dahlias, red penstemon, blue delphinium, and peonies.
The veronica I nursed in a long planter was ready–and so were the weeds. And then there was the egg rock, maybe 250 pounds of the stuff that I unwisely spread around the roses three or four years ago. Most of it sank into the dirt. I knew the day would come . . .
After I dug a few feet of rocks, and washed them, and stored them in crates, Dad stepped in.
“Now, Sis”, he said, “I want to help and I can. I can take my pick and just go around that bed and put those rocks in my wheelbarrow. Then I can take my hoe and scrape out that grass and weeds. You need help.”
He was right. Yesterday morning, Dad and I attacked the project. He dug rocks and I dug weeds. The ground was wet and it rained twice more, sending us to the Rubbermaid chairs under the apartment’s porch overhang. Mom and Dave called on the way to the Y to suggest that they stop for takeout at Captain D’s on their way home. I asked for fish and coleslaw for me, catfish for Dad. At a little after noon, we ran for cover for the last time. I scraped and washed off mud outside so as not to clog the shower.
Dad and I were spent, but fish tasted good and it felt even better to sit around Mom’s kitchen table.
“Mom,” I said, “I have to go over to East Nashville this afternoon to pick up that CSA box.” A friend left town and asked if we could use the groceries since she had already paid for them in her membership.
“Yes,” Mom said, “I want to ride along.”
I made it to the couch in The Cellar, trained the standing fan on myself, and started a short video on a free DVD that came in the mail from something called Spiritual Cinema Associates. I dozed but I know I did not sleep because I can remember the story line from the film. Dave returned from running errands just in time for Mom and me to use the van.
I-24 was a mess but we were early because I got the time mixed up.We sat in the church parking lot and talked of friends, gardening, and quilts. I told Mom we best go home through town, which means across the bridge, skirt the city, and head south.
When the truck arrived, I was the first to receive my box of fresh-from-the-farm goodies.
“Wait,” the driver said as I started to walk away, “Here’s your milk.”
I opened the box in the back of the van and Mom called over her shoulder, “What’s in there?”
“Oh, let’s see. There’sa huge head of romaine, a few yellow squash, broccoli, onions, peas all over the place, eggs, cheese . . . Man-oh-man, these strawberries smell good.” Pause. “And they taste like strawberries, too.”
“Bring me one,” she said. (“One” means a handful, in case you don’t understand Mom-speak.)
I slid into the driver’s seat and dropped the strawberries into her palm. “Look, Mom, we got goat’s milk.” I held up the plastic jug of milk, dripping cold water from its traveling ice bath.
“I have never tasted goat’s milk,” she said.
I opened the top. “Oh, dear, it’s frozen. No, wait. That’s cream.” I replaced the top, gave it a few hard shakes, and handed it to her.
“Wow,” she said. “I love it. Oh, boy.” She took a few more sips.
“Okay,” I said. “You can have it–when we get home.” I took it from her and got out to place it in my cooler bag in the back.
“We’re ready to roll,” I said. We crossed the bridge and turned up 2nd Avenue. That’s when we were reminded that the CMA Music Festival was in full swing, with 250,000 country music fans let loose in the city and a dozen city streets closed off for the parade and Block Party.
We skirted the city, alright . . . slowly. After about fifteen minutes of sitting, Mom mumbled, “I wish I had that goat’s milk.”
“I’m just hoping we get home before Rich and Eunice arrive,” I answered.