Slow Food

By Diane Binder

No one comes to the front door of the old clapboard house, unless of course they are peddling something, or lost. The gravel drive shoots up a short, steep hill and curves around to the back of the house, the way a strong arm pulls you in for a hug. Left-over aromas of thick, black coffee, bacon, and biscuits waft through the back screen door, greeting you before you have a chance to grab the handle. No knock is required, only a holler, to announce your arrival.

The kitchen welcomes you with its rows of glass jars filled with a colorful harvest, and the smooth, black iron skillet, seasoned from years of use, waiting for the next meal. Simply passing through the room creates a mouth-watering sensation as you anticipate its potential offerings.

Brown and cold, the large gas stove anchored in the living room rests for the summer, as the television cheers for the Cincinnati Reds. The avocado couch, its cushions worn from the bottoms of the ten children raised in this house, is empty, even the reserved seat at the end, which appears to guard the soft peppermints and creamy caramels at its side. The pungent smell of sweet tobacco warns you to watch your step while reaching for the candy jar, lest you kick over the spittoon sitting on the floor below. The windows are open, allowing the breeze to bring the sound of distant voices, answering your question.

Retracing your steps through the house, while simultaneously unwrapping the cellophane of a favored caramel, you follow the familiar sounds outside. The old screen door whacks as it closes behind you; eyes searching, they quickly meet hers. Sitting beneath the oak tree’s broad canopy, my Grandma Sara smiles, gesturing with one hand for you to join her. Climbing the slight hill behind the house, you can see the page of an old newspaper spread across her lap indicating that she is snapping fresh green beans from the garden. Never stopping the rhythmic flow, she welcomes you to sit a spell, as she breaks the beans into pieces. Dropping the chosen segments into the old enamel-coated pot with one hand, she swiftly releases the unwanted remains onto yesterday’s sports page with the other.

Looking over your shoulder, you see Grandpa, whom everyone calls Eck, returning from feeding his loyal hunting companions. The empty bucket swings in one hand as he passes a pond surrounded by laden blueberry bushes. Dropping the bucket beside the weather-beaten shed, he checks on the lettuce growing inside a greenhouse of old storm windows.

Gathering up the front of her faded dress from the hem, forming a shallow bowl, Sara walks to the edge of the woods and discards the stems and ends, as you watch, anticipating a dinner invitation. The methods are slow, the pace even slower, as Sara and Eck move through their day. Progress and technology have not passed them by, only time, which they never seem to mind.

It is said that it is beneficial to wait, for it is from that, which good things come. Walking together, you head toward the house, where hospitality beckons, inviting you to partake in the bounty of slow food.

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Categories: Essay, Issue 4 | Leave a comment

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