When the Weather Turns Hot......

by Lisa Cole

Anyone who knows me, knows I detest it when the weather turns from pleasant days, to the heat typical of a Texas summer. When you walk outside, the heat often takes the air out of your lungs or it is so humid that you instantly feel lazy and want to sit down. That is how I feel about the heat as an adult.

As a child, I remember it differently. As usual, these memories took place at my Mamaw Papaw's house. They had no air conditioning. I believe what they had was called a water cooler (not sure about that) but it did blow cooler air. The draw back to sitting in front of it, was the vinyl covered couch that was in front of the water cooler. Part of you would feel the cool air and the other part would stick to the couch.

Regardless of how hot it was, Mamaw cooked a full meal. Every once in a while, I remember her and Papaw eating cornbread crumbled up in a glass of cold buttermilk. But most of the meals at Mamaw's was complete meals. Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, whatever vegetables that came out of the garden, casseroles, ...pretty much any food that was requested. Breakfasts were huge meals also. Fried or scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, home made Jams and jellies, and if there were grandkids around, cinnamon rolls or monkey bread. She could make pancakes as big and round as your plate. How she flipped them, I will never know.

Speaking of the vegetables that came out of the garden, my Papaw could grow anything. I remember following him around in the garden, barefoot, feeling the hot dirt and smelling the earthy smell of vegetables freshly picked. He grew green beans, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, okra, onions and many other vegetables. He also planted flowers around their house and sometimes grew gourds that we grandchildren were able to play with. Papaw planted trees over the years. I remember there being a fig tree (yuck), several pear trees, a couple of plum trees and then there was the dew-berry bushes that we kids raided quite often. Papaw had chickens which supplied their eggs. There was always great excitement when Papaw spied a chicken hawk. He would hurry and go get a gun to kill the "bad" bird. There were also chicken snakes that would get in the hen house. Now that I think about it, Papaw spent a great deal of time catching and killing critters. Gophers, armadillo's, possums, various types of snakes. Sometimes while working in the garden, Papaw would come across baby turtles. He would build a little circular area to keep them in so we grandkids could watch them and play with them. Papaw had pigeon's too. I never was too crazy about all the chickens, pigeons, or turtles. Nor did I spend too much time out in the garden because I didn't like the feeling of the dirt. I would venture outside for a time then go back inside and spend time with my Mamaw. She kept a clean house so she was always busy cleaning, until her soaps came on. Then, she would sit in her chair and crochet and watch her soaps. She watched "The Young and the Restless", "As the World Turns", and "Guiding Light". I vaguely remember a soap called "Search for Tomorrow". Later on there was "The Bold and the Beautiful". Mamaw watched her "shows" and would get so mad when the villain would hurt the innocent people on these soaps but Oh, she would laugh and smile when the good characters would finally come out on top. Sitting on those cool, pinesol scented floors and watching the soaps with Mamaw was a fond childhood memory of mine. Mamaw's hands were always busy. If not cleaning, crochet, then there was the ever present bowls of pea's to be shelled. Even grandkids were recruited to shell peas. Papaw's gardens were big so Mamaw always was cooking fresh vegetables at meals and then canning the rest.

When evening rolled around, everyone got their baths and then relaxed until bedtime. Mamaw would make popcorn on the stovetop for everyone to snack on while we watched various shows on TV. Papaw and Mamaw would watch "Family Feud" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" and other shows that we grandkids liked.

I can close my eyes and see them sitting in their chairs, we grandkids all sitting around on the clean floors, wearing our pj's, the smell of Vel soap on our skin, our hair still wet from our baths......munching on hot, homemade popcorn. The feeling was safe, happy, and precious moments that we never realized until they were gone. Sometimes I can feel a sensation or moment close to what we were lucky enough to experience......... ALMOST, and then the memory dissolves and disappears, leaving me with a sweet ache in my heart and tears in my eyes.

Those days are gone. We buy our fruits and vegetables at Walmart or Brookshires, buy meals that are already cooked (because its just too hot to cook) and everyone spends their time doing their own thing. Family times are rare, now. We live in a hurried society.

I will have to give my mother credit on trying to make some memories with her grandkids. They may not be the same as what I had with my Mamaw, but my kids now have their own memories with my mom.

It can be so easy to become sad that childhood times are gone. Certain things, like the Texas heat, can trigger a desire to go back to happier times. Then I see how blessed I am to have such precious memories. I smile and wipe the tears from my eyes and look around at the land that once was my Mamaw and Papaw's. I am lucky to still be around these beloved Pine trees and familiar areas. The Texas heat can be bad, but once in a while, it can trigger a flood of wonderful memories.

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