Thursday, August 04, 2011

Morning at the Gilbert place

Del Gilbert woke easily, well before the sun was up.  Her husband, Billy would be up soon.  He patted her shoulder as she rolled to the edge of their bed and sat up.  Most mornings he would lay in bed and spend a few moments in quiet prayer as he prepared for his day.  His day would start fast and go steady till their noon meal.  He would be back in the fields soon after and would finally stumble in, dog tired just before dark to eat a bite, sip on some iced tea on the porch and listen to the radio till bed time.  Most folks called him "Uncle Billy" and he was what folks call "a good ol' boy".

There was a pretty good chance that one or more neighbor would wander by and stop for some sweet tea and conversation in the early evenin' hours.  Though their home was off the beaten path and at the end of a road that wandered deep into a holler, it sometimes seemed like Grand Central Station to Del.

 Del quickly made biscuits and pushed the pan into the oven.  Bacon and ham soon fell into a fryin' pan and the little cabin tucked into the holler was smellin' wonderful.  Grits bubbled and steamed on the back burner right beside a little pan filled with warm water in which she put a quart jar of maple syrup to warm.  Billy liked maple syrup in his grits and his own sourwood honey on his biscuits.

Five bee gums (hives for the Yankee folks) sat a little further back in the holler and were just about ready to be robbed of the season's bounty of sourwood honey.  The sourwood trees had been just beautiful this year with all the rain.  Their limbs had hung low, laden with white, fragrant flowers that they could smell from their front porch... or anywhere else in their humble cabin when the windows were open.

The bees worked those trees steady for weeks.  Their buzzin' created a hum around the trees that was magical.  It seemed like the whole hillside was alive an' singin' glory an' hallelujahs to the Good Lord above when the Sourwoods were bloomin'.  Del often took a chair out close to the trees on a nice day and sat in the shade, listenin' to that hum as she pieced quilts or peeled taters for dinner.

The biscuits came out of the oven and Del cracked eggs into a little pan shined up with just a dab of bacon grease... made the eggs taste good an made her cleanin' the pan easier with a slick of grease in the bottom.  Billy ate two and she had one, all over easy.  Since her layin' hens were goin' great guns, she fried up a few more.  Maybe Billy would want another for breakfast.  Maybe he would put a cold fried egg on his plate for dinner.  Maybe one of the neighbors would stop for coffee and have a biscuit stuffed with a fried egg to gossip over.

"Better come on, ol' man.  This breakfast is coolin' quick an' I am 'bout ready to toss it out for the dogs" she called.

"I hear ye. I hear ye.  A feller cain't even get his boots laced 'round here.  You threaten me every day with throwin' my breakfast to the dogs.  It ain't happened in 48 years and I don't reckon you'll start now." Billy chuckled.

Del grinned and sat the plate of eggs on the table.  She wiped her hands on the dish towel that hung on her shoulder, folded it and laid it by the sink.  Billy and Del sat, joined hands and bowed their heads.

"Now Lord, we ain't got much to brag about.  What we got is from You and we are humbled by the bounty of this little patch of ground you have given us here in this holler.  We don't rightly know what we have done to deserve all we have been blessed with, don't reckon our blessin's come from what we deserve, but what You grace us with.  For that and for this table we give You thanks, Lord.  Watch over us and them we love this day.  Bless our country, our President, them that govern and us that live free.  Be with the boys that guard and protect in the Armed Forces.  Bless the Governor of Kentucky and those folks we have elected to guide our state, the local folks.  Lord, give 'em some wisdom... give them government folks a lot of wisdom, Lord.  I just don't know about them folks sometimes.  Get 'em off their high horses an' back down to earth." Billy prays.

Del squeezes Billy's hand and he chuckles; "Sorry I went on so, Lord.  Help us as we go about our work today.  Help us to be humble and to know You are God.  Thanks for your son, Jesus.  I'm prayin' all this in His Mighty name.  Amen."

They squeeze each others hand, Billy leans over, as he does every day and kisses Del.  This is a custom he started their first day of marriage as Del sat cryin' over burned biscuits an' crispy eggs.  He leaned over that mornin', kissed her, told her every thing looked wonderful and ate every bite.  From that day till this he would kiss her before his first bite.

Breakfast is soon over.  Billy grabs the bowl of scraps Del has prepared and crumbles a biscuit into the bowl. He is out the back door and into the barn to begin his day.  Del sits back down an' pours a cup of coffee.  Them dishes ain't goin' nowhere.  She listens as Billy calls his ol' Sooner dog.  Sooner has been sleepin' under the front porch but soon is up, has a good shake and trots - side aways over to eat his breakfast as Billy throws cracked corn to the chickens.

Sooner will follow Billy from chore to chore all day long.  When Billy begins to work, Sooner will go round and round a few time and drop like he was dead to the ground... one eye openin' occasionally to make sure Billy is there.  At noon, man and dog will head back to the house.

That's the way it happens most days.  It is a simple life, a good life.  It is, as they know, a blessed life.
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