Bellwether Vance

Hounds to the Left of me/Jokers to the Right

Bellwether Vance

Bellwether Vance
December 31
You'd like me. People like me.


Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 9, 2011 9:00AM

Pea Picking Minutes

Rate: 49 Flag
If you've ever picked peas, you know that pea picking minutes are some of the longest in existence. I'm told only cotton picking minutes are longer, but I have no experience with cotton and pea picking minutes are plenty long enough.

These are pea picking minutes: The sleep is still in your eyes, and already the sun is mean, a magnifying glass in the hand of a nasty little boy; he wants to watch you sizzle and pop. The morning dew steams up from the ground like a sputtering iron, filling your lungs with moist heat. Sweat pours down your back soaking your underwear and the wetness seeps through to color your pants, as if you had a pee pee accident. The dampness will worry up a rash at your waist by dinner time. And the gnats. Oh the gnats! You've coated your face with Avon's Skin So Soft to keep them from flying up your nose and sipping from your tear ducts, but it doesn't work; the fragrant oil acts as flypaper and when they land they stick to your face and writhe grotesquely before sputtering out.

As you fill your bucket, the row ahead seems to telescope and the only gauge of time is your growing misery as you chant to yourself. One row. One row. One row. That's all the kids have to pick. One row. When you reach the end and stand upright for the first time all day, you feel the muscles elongate with an internal yelp that is pain and pleasure twisted together, and the walk back to the house down that same row is over in a flash. Minutes that go by very quickly should be called "back to the house" minutes. 

After the horror of pea picking, pea shelling is a jubilee. Nannie's friends are there to help with the shelling, and the room is filled with happy chatter and clatter that's louder than the whir of the window air conditioner. Vergie is a big woman, with a bottom that makes chairs anxious. She plants herself directly in front of the cold air and still she waves a church fan and sighs, "Lawdie, lawdie." Doll is an Avon lady who carries a stack of catalogs with her everywhere. Nannie is her best customer and there's entire dresser in her room filled with Avon products –  men's cologne in decanters shaped like cars, lipstick in more shades of frosty pink that you'd think existed, large containers of the scented powder Nannie uses to prime her girdle, and one drawer is just bottles of Skin So Soft. Louise has known Nannie the longest, and I move my chair next to hers and ask her to tell me olden days stories. She says, I've told them all, and I say, Tell them again

Despite a full morning of labor and an afternoon of more to come, the younger women magically produce a hot dinner (which is lunchtime in the South). Dishes crowd the table and line the sideboard – squash and onions, potato salad, sliced tomatoes, fried okra, slabs of country ham and salmon patties, biscuits and a pan of the freshest field peas available anywhere.

At the dinner table there is talk of a "sang" over in Dothan, a group of siblings out of Memphis that are supposed to be as good as the Lewis Family. Nannie says that if she's going as far as Dothan it had better be to see some wrastlin', wrastlin' being her odd, guilty pleasure. We all get a kick out of her bloodthirsty yelling when she watches the matches on TV.

After dinner, the kids are allowed to stay home with the women who've aged out of field work, and everyone else heads back out to pick. They hobble in just as the sun lowers his magnifying glass. It's quieter in the kitchen this time, as dishes are reheated for supper.

There is one last chore before rest, before a few rounds of crazy eights, baths and then bed. The unshelled peas, bushels in wooden baskets, are delivered to Mrs. Ray's house so that her large, pitiful brood can earn money. Their house is a leaning, unpainted shanty with a rusty roof, brokedown sofas on the front porch. Looking through the screen door, I see a line of lumpy, stained mattresses, most without sheets. Grinding poverty -- limited access to refrigeration, electricity, water and soap -- has a particular smell, stagnant and overripe, sharp at the initial whiff and then unpleasantly sweet, like peaches left to rot.  I know better than to say anything or even wrinkle my nose. Nannie has never taken a switch to me, but I'm certain if I ever acknowledged the smell I'd feel the sting of a thin Crape Myrtle branch on my behind. That scent sets up house in your nose, and back home I make a beeline for the Avon dresser, the Sweet Honesty solid perfume housed in a goldtone locket.

The next morning, it starts all over again. Unless it's Sunday. Sunday is fried chicken cooked before service and left to cool, church fans with a picture of blue-eyed Jesus on the back, a bleating organ, off-key singing, and packs of Juicy Fruit gum stirred from the depths of Nannie's big black pocketbook. 

I haven't picked peas in over twenty-five years and I vividly remember the heat, the gnats, the backache and my mother telling me "you're too young to have a back" when I complained, but surely now, it wasn't that bad? It can't have been, because come summertime I find myself longing to pick up a bucket and head out to the fields with my family for just a few more pea picking minutes.
I found these unshelled pink-eye peas at our produce market. It took me over an hour to shell five pounds. I'm definitely out of practice!

Fresh Field Peas
Fresh field peas don't need the fancy treatment. They're delicious simply simmered in water and a little bit of olive oil, with plenty of kosher salt and black pepper, until the snaps are tender  (about 20-25 minutes), but I like to make a topping of onions, peppers, lemon juice, vinegar and oil. I like the vibrant flavor and the color it adds to an otherwise rather subdued bowl. You can also drizzle a spoonful on top of soups, fish or chicken, or a bowl of shrimp and grits.


1/3 cup very finely minced white onion
1/3 cup very finely minced poblano peppr
1/3 cup very finely minced red bell pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp champagne or other mild white vinegar
3 Tbsp very good olive oil
A pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

I also found some beautiful squash and couldn't resist adding them to my basket. During the summer, yellow squash is as abundant in the South as zucchini appears to be in other parts of the country. I was an adult before I ever ate zucchini! For this preparation, where the squash is rendered soft and creamy – almost like risotto – a large cast iron skillet is a must. (This is my and my daughter's favorite vegetable dish.)

Creamy Yellow Squash and Onions

2 lbs young yellow squash (the little ones), chopped to about 1 inch in size
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
Kosher Salt
Black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional, don't use the pre-grated)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 large shallot, sliced and fried until crispy (optional)

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil and the butter over medium high heat. Add the squash and onions and a heavy pinch of salt to get the squash to start releasing liquid. Stir every few minutes until the liquid begins to evaporate and the mixture is broken down and getting a little sticky (about 10 minutes). At that point, stay on top of it. Using a large metal spatula keep scraping the bottom of the pan and turning the squash over to prevent it from becoming overly brown. You want it to caramelize a bit but not burn. Cook until the squash is very tender and a uniform pale, golden/caramel color.  Add the cream and the nutmeg and heat through. Taste for salt and pepper. Top with fried shallots. Or shredded sharp cheddar cheese if you're trying to convince a kid that squash is delicious!
(I'm thinking this post  needs some British hillbilly music.)

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Wait just a pea-pickin' minute - love this story, from the Sweet Honesty solid perfume in a goldtone locket to the powder in Nannie's girdle. I love to shell field peas, too and can't wait to try your recipes!
and "the fragrant oil acts as flypaper and when they land they stick to your face and writhe grotesquely before sputtering out." had me howling with laughter- god that is so nasty and true
The world is just a better place because of fresh peas. Fresh peas are a vegetarian's filet mignon. More than ripe tomatoes, fresh picked corn, more than a bunch of basil even. Nothing can match a glorious full mouth of fresh peas. This post was truly pea porn. Now I won't rest til I have some!
I love peas..I dont know if I could sit there and shuck them like I used to with my grammy.. but this story reminds me of her.
Ah, yes, the recipes, and finally the voice of pea-pickin' Tennessee Ernie in the background wafts away. My favorite among your abundant wonderful word strings: When you reach the end and stand upright for the first time all day, you feel the muscles elongate with an internal yelp that is pain and pleasure twisted together...

Yes'm, that is truly what it is - or was, before I was old enuf to have a back.
This merits an EP!!
I love, "Vergie is a big woman, with a bottom that makes chairs anxious."
and, "Sunday is fried chicken cooked before service and left to cool, church fans with a picture of blue-eyed Jesus on the back, a bleating organ, off-key singing, and packs of Juicy Fruit gum stirred from the depths of Nannie's big black pocketbook. "
I could taste the salt from my sweaty upper lip, the peas, and the chicken!!
your stories never disappoint....wish I had some peas to pick...not that I would consider picking that much or that my dear Hoosier husband would eat them....but I am looking for some squash...
Bell; I love the way you write. I feel like I'm watching a movie.r
Egad. You've turned something horrible into something I want to experience. Until I remember how much I hated picking beans. But really, this is a great trip. It always is, with you.
I was so excited to see you had posted!
Of course I love every word of this. Too many little gems to mention. You too, Bell are a gem. ~r
This was a wonderful glimpse into the past. The rich, wonderful and sweet past, elusive and missing, but not from memory. I love the trips backwards in time, thank you for taking us there.
So excited to see a new post by you. If chairs could talk! So true. Like Joan said: Too many gems to name. Matt and Joan picked my favorites though. Another great reading experience, Bell.
Belle: Pea shelling IS a jubilee and these words are as smooth as Avon's Skin So Soft right from the beginning of the pea-picking minute to the not so sweet smell of poverty. I predict an EP with this Ms. Vance and deservedly so.
You are a delight. It's that simple.
This is just what I needed, a splash of Bell--better than any Avon product...
"When you reach the end and stand upright for the first time all day, you feel the muscles elongate with an internal yelp that is pain and pleasure twisted together"--how can a child know this? A child with "no back"? : ) This is me, now!
btw, my nickname bestwoed on me by my maternal grandfather was "Pea-picker." From Tennessee Ernie Ford...not any picking I ever did. So I waded into this with a grin already on my face.
What a wonderful piece. It reminded me of my grandma shelling peas while rocking on the front porch. She would have a look of serenity on her face. The craft of your writing really dazzles.
Cookbook material, for sure. Please check out Claudia Roden. You write like her, and she has won James Beard awards.
What a wonderful post. It tells a story, shares food and outlines fascinating characters, all with great word economy. And it evokes such memories - the smell of the small, poor OK town where my grandma lived, picking strawberries in a field, snapping beans for hours...Thanks Bell, I needed a break from 24/7 political depression!
Bellwether Vance,

This is so well done from start to finish. Congratulations on the EP!
What a perfectly wonderful interlude in an otherwise mundane day--your writing is like a week of vacation, for me. Thank you.
This is just stupendous writing, riviting, evocative, sense memories in every phrase. I'd continue to rave but I want to go back for a third helping of everything. Plus my back hurts.
You write a lot better than Claudia Roden. You're at the level of MFK Fisher. Only you are funnier.
You write a lot better than Claudia Roden. You're at the level of MFK Fisher. Only you are funnier.
Well, not twice as funny. But pretty much. Stupid OS.
Your first paragraph was worth the price of admission alone!
Wonderful piece. You make peas more complex and interesting than I ever thought possible...not that I've spent much time contemplating them before reading your story.
Fond memories of pulling carrots in my grandmother's garden, then washing them under the pump. Thank you!
If I tell you that I have never had southern grits, do you think I can sneak an invitation?

- wonderful writing, Mrs Vance!
When I was a kid, my uncle farmed acres of peas. He made up a song to go with it, called the "Pea-Pickin' Blues." Something about "dirt in my mouth and rocks in my shoes."
Being a limited pea fan, fresh, hand-picked peas fall under the "is it worth all the effort" category. Unless someone else is picking them. Could you send your recipe to Britain? They seem to think "mushy peas" is a mouth-watering side dish.
I can't say anything about the recipe, because I'm still lost in your vivid, beautifully described pea picking memories. Maybe "reading about pea picking minutes" are long and lingering ones, too? That is not a bad thing. Beautiful writing, as always. I feel utterly transported.
nice story, belle, and an interesting take on serving fresh peas. the only ones we get around here are in the spring, and they're wonderful. having moved away from that humidity for good reason, the part about the gnats totally creeped me out.
Bell dear, you floor me with these memories stories. I got things to do and now I see a new post from you and Boanagers and I had to sit down here and say hello to ya too.
I keep thinking of the breaking of green beans too. Into chipped white enamel basins with red lined rings around the top....gotta get outta here...hugs...
Lucy -- Shelling peas is relaxing and if I hadn't been trying to match my old speed, those five pounds would have taken me two hours instead of one!

Julie -- I'm convinced gnats are sent by Satan to torture people, quietly.

Greenheron -- So true. I do wish we had access to fresh green peas (like English peas). I've never tasted those.

Linda -- It's getting very hard to find peas in their shells. I had to hit the produce stand three times in order to catch them before they went to the pea shelling machine.

Matt -- I'd forgotten about Ernie! Now I wish I had used that song.

Susie -- I do miss that chicken. I'd think about it all during church.

Liberal -- I think I want some peas to pick, but in truth if faced with an acre-long row these days, I'd just sit down and cry.

Hugs -- It would be a boring movie, but the food would be good!

Mumble -- I'm far enough from the actual picking that I'm nostalgic, but I KNOW I wouldn't last long.

Joan -- You're the sweetest.

Sheila -- This time of year it's hard for me not to look back, with so many of the women gone. I think that's what I miss most, more than the peas. Just that sense of community and shared work.

Fernsy -- Yep, I'm glad chairs don't talk. They probably know more than any other piece of furniture, because beds are lazy and couches are stupid. Chairs pay attention.

Scarlett -- You know I can still smell that smell. I catch a scent close to it sometimes if I don't rinse out the cans in the recycling bucket, but it's missing a human sweat element. Those kids were so pitiful. It's hard to believe people live like that, and this was in the mid-to-late seventies.

Jeanette -- Thanks! And I did check out your post on Minton Sparks. She's a talented storyteller. I want to look on youtube for more of her stuff.

Dirndl -- I blame my current back problems on my forced child labor as a field hand! "Pea picker" would have been a good CB handle back in the day. (Mine was "little puddle jumper.")
Sarah -- There is zen in shelling. I'm sure of it.

Lea -- Oh I will check her out. She sounds like my kind of author. I love suggestions like that.

Blue -- There is a lot to be depressed about. At least we're not picking cotton -- which my mother tells me tears up your hands. Okra is bad too, because it's itchy. I guess we can be happy about air conditioning and already-picked cotton and okra.

Diary -- Thanks! I'm glad you liked the piece. We ate the peas and squash tonight.

Sophieh -- A pea picking vacation. Now that might be an idea some savvy travel agent could sell!

Sally -- Now that I'm old enough to have a back, I doubt I could hunch like that all day, even though my mother and grandmother did without complaint. I think the "sterner stuff" has been bred out of us...or me. When I think back to that kind of lifestyle, I know I'm pretty spoiled.

Mumble -- You're making me all puff-chested with pride. I think I need a new bra! Or two.

Jeff -- Who is collecting this here admission fee?

Pauline -- I feel the same way when I read posts about life in big cities. It's funny how the most mundane aspects of a different life take on an exotic hue.

Hells Bells -- That's something we didn't grow -- carrots and I always wish we did, but I'm sure there was a reason. I used to love my grandmother's pump and I would swear the water from it tasted 10,000 times better than any water you can drink today.

Catherine -- Seriously? Well, that is a problem that must be solved immediately!!

Lily -- Dirt in my mouth, rocks in my shoes. He might have had it worse than us. I hope he recorded the song?

Stim -- I'm a fan of all peas, even mushed ones!

Alysa -- Transported. That's what I hoped for. I'm glad you felt it.

Candace -- The gnats are only drawn to manure (I think), so everywhere else you're pretty much safe. We don't have them here on the coast. The humidity, however, is impossible to escape.

Mission -- It's great to see you and I thank you for popping in to read. My round pans have a black rim, but I have a few oval ones with a red rim. I used to have one with a blue rim and that was my favorite. I wish they still made those pans.
I don't think it is fair that my earlier comment no longer exists. Bell, you are the writer that has it all, a story, a recipe, a point of view that I so thoroughly enjoy.
Wonderful and evocative. I could feel the sun and hear the women. I love stories of the South -- y'all are such great storytellers!
Congratulations on a well-deserved EP! I love this piece. It reminds me of many summer days in my childhood (perhaps another reason I dislike gardening?). I once went to a singin' with my grandmother (it was called a singin' instead of a sang next door in Mississippi). I was about 8 years old, and I remember that it was one of the longest evenings of my life . . . an evening that was nothing but pea-picking minutes! Just loved this piece, Bellwether. xo
You had me at the second sentence. And recipes too!!!!

It's such a blessing to be able to read you.
Forget the Brits-Why do Southerners make such good writers? Me, only from the North, only knows cans.
This is delightful! What an amazing picture you paint; I feel as though I were there with you (and I kind of wish I were). I never saw or even heard of field peas before moving to Florida, and I haven't tried them yet because I had no idea what to do with them--thanks for giving me some ideas! It won't be the same as picking them myself, though.
Thanks for these yummy recipes & memories, Ms. Bellwether Vance! I looove peas, and never quite know how to make squash so palatable. We used to pick green pole beans, and the aunties would boil them and hang them on strings in the attic to dry, so they would have them for the winter. My mouth just waters thinking about those days... :) (I never heard of British hillbilly music--thanks for sharing!)
I love reading your delightfullu written stories around family and food memories. I'm facing shelling fresh Romano beans to freeze for the winter. Bon appétit!
I was just going to echo Jeanette DeMain and Jeff Howe, but then I wanted to add thank you for what you see and say.
Peas are not my favorite and so you know that I am not going to de-shell any but there were so many great lines in this post! It is the most fun I have ever had with peas. The Skin-So-Soft-as-bug repellant I never fell for instead I believed it attracted them.
I've got just one thing to say, "When is YOUR book coming out? Girl, you can write. And my rating button thing won't work. Okay, 2 things to say.
I once picked peas for a charity. Only once. Appreciated them more after that. Your vivid descriptions made me think of one of my all time favorite books...Grapes of Wrath. Wonderful.
My Granddaughter calls me have won my heart with this tale of the days of old when we were children and times were so different. I, of course, now need to hit a roadside stand and find me some fresh peas!!

yum. I'm going to a tomato festival this weekend and I can't wait to pick a few farm vegetables fresh from the farm. (for me, a city child, I didn't have the chance to resent farm work as a child....although my grandmother did have a pea patch we were forced to weed periodically. picking peas though still seems slightly, glamorous to my imagination at least.....)

The creamy squash and onions also look delicious. mmm. I'm lucky enough to live in a state where food is an official religion, and I'm a genuine believer.
I may recommend that You are Cordially Invited to do a pea picking demonstration at Michelle Obama's back yard White House Garden.

Sam Kass can cook and we'd have a hoot-festivity and experience inner Jubilee. Cook Black-Eye Peas.
Cook black-eye peas with a hog jowl.
Well-to-Do families ate peas & meat.
The folk would meet for festive food.
In Civil War Days they shucked peas.
Black Eyes were from foolish feuds.
If folk lose fortune they plant peas.

I was thinking people can change names. If your Bell Wether Vance you can consider renaming your name is Bell Weather Bad Arthur James? huh? We could barter peas for moonshine whiskey. I heard yesterday that some lobby critters will pay $5,000 for fifty years old jug of French Con-Yuck.
I thought the dude teased.
They have no conscious.
They walk as if dead.
K- Streeters smirk.
Hill folk do smile.
Hill is Cap- Ills.
Politico loco!
They dry drunk.
They're sober?
No not Never!
I may change my name to Pea Pod. If I die I'll get buried six feet deep on K- Street?
If someone read the grave stone on the K- Street Curb it will read silly 'stuff' like this.
Pea Pod died. No worry
Pod is 6- feet deep under
Pod is under the concrete
Pea say he off with God
Pea with a God Pea Pod
Pod pee pickin' Pea Pod
Pea in pod and pee Pant
Pea is good with butters
Pea is black eye pea pod
I go take a pea real asap.
Email Fresh Farm Market.
I feel like buttered peas.
I no cook with hog jowl.
I'll keep for pea recipe.
Thanks. email to Ann,
and Bernadette. Yup.
hi Yonkers & Prince.
They no strip in DC.
Goofy day indeed.
When I was a kid my mom kept cows, so we had fresh milk and cream, and she always put in a huge garden. When I came home from college to visit, if it was the right time of year, I would try to founder myself eating her creamed peas and new potatoes. Thank goodness I moved far away after college so that visits home became infrequent, or I might have reached a size that would make Vergie look petite.

One of my favorite memories during that time was an afternoon spent shelling peas with the family. My stepfather helped. During his younger days, he spent some time in San Quentin prison. His souvenirs included LOVE and HATE tattooed across the knuckles of each huge hand, a black widow spider tattooed on one forearm, and a skull and crossbones on the other. I think there was a buxom mermaid in the mix somewhere too. I can still remember how the little peas vanished into the crevices between his sausagelike fingers as he shelled them. I only wish I had thought to take a picture of those hands and arms busy at such a peaceful, every day domestic task.

I haven't thought about mom's garden and shelling peas for years. Congrats on the EP and many thanks for the "virtual" trip home!
Dianaani -- I'm sorry you lost your earlier comment. (I've been there.) But the one that got through was so sweet and very appreciated.

500words -- It's that feeling of the sun, awful these days, that made me want to write this. When I'm feeling cool and breezy, I just have the fond memories of the harvest. This brutal weather reminds me of the downside.

Susan -- Let's you and me skip out on the sing and go to a wrastlin' match!

Pilgrim -- How apropos, because when I think of the "blessings" on OS, I do think of you.

87king -- Maybe we're just sun-addled. Although I know a ton of great Northern writers, and admire them. They seem so urbane and sophisticated. I mean, I don't think of myself as a rube and my accent is really fairly slight, but when I'm in the presence of a witty Northerner I feel like the bucktooth varmint I used to be.

Felicia -- Be thankful you (we) no longer have to pick them. Field peas are a Southern thing and they're good and all, but I STILL want some fresh green peas! I know their growing season is very short and they never make it this far south. We can only get the frozen variety.

Clay -- Now I've never heard of drying pole beans. Did they dry them in the pods and then shell them when they were dry and then cook them like you would any dried beans? I'm intrigued.

Fusun -- First Clay with the dried pole beans and now you with the Romano beans. I have no idea what those are like. I hope you'll do a post about them.

Consonants -- Thanks so much for reading. You're one of those "Northerners" whose writing makes me feel like a bucktooth varmint. Nothing you've done or said, of course, just the level of writing and knowledge...I'm going to go gnaw on something now.

Miquela -- The mosquito repelling was totally a marketing ploy. I'm convinced I should have put some rotten meat in my pocket then they would have swarmed there and left my face alone.

Christine -- Did you punch the ratings button with your thumb? That's what I do? Seriously, thanks. And I'm working on it!
Mime -- If you did it once, you're a champ! The Grapes of Wrath made me laugh because my great-grandmother nursed my great uncle waaaaaayyyyy too long. (Referencing the final scene in the book.) Well, at least in our small version, no one ever went hungry.

Lunch -- I'm going to be "Nannie" one day too, and proudly carry on the title. My mother couldn't take it because our Nannie was still around, so she was a "MeMaw."

Dolores -- You resent all you want, because I resented buses, community pools, erupting fire hydrants and all the wonders I imagined city life held! Have fun at the tomato festival. If any vegetable deserves a festival, it's the glorious tomato.

Art -- I'm a wet drunk and happily so. Makes reading your comments that much more delightful! No hog jowl. No no.

Freethinker -- Your comment is a post in the making. I'd love to read more about your family and your pea-shelling, tattooed stepfather!
Bellwether, they grew on poles, but were maybe string beans? After boiling them, they slit them most of the way lengthwise, leaving them attatched 1/2-inch at one end; then they would hang them on "clotheslines" made of string, up in the dry attic, by hanging the slit beans over the string. They would become dehydrated, and in the winter, they would boil them with diced onion, and an herb, maybe summer savory? It was in Switzerland, out in the countryside. They taste different when rehydrated, a really earthy flavor that I just love. :)
Bellewether Vance. I hace a Velveta cheese recipe that I may share someday.

Feed to Kerry L.
He wear wine stained shirt.
You adorn a wine drip skirt.
My pants are wet from beer.
No eat @ Wendy's or mary's.
You stop over with a partner?
Let's cook green kale with pea.
We'll infuse a red hot pepper.
Let's stuff yellow squash petal.
We can use real gouda cheese.
Yummy. I know a cheese maker.
It would be innocent fellowship.
We can have holy communions.
It's pure gesture. Pop wine cork.
I remember too well picking peas as a kid- Mom and her sister used to drive up to Florala, near my Granny's house, to a field to pick. When Mom would get tired of my whining, she'd banish me to the car where I'd sit and read while sweltering, with the door ajar to catch a breeze. I'm far better at shelling peas than I am picking. I miss fresh field peas but I sure don't miss the pea patch.
You paint words with a wonderful brush.
The next time I have to sit in an undersized chair, I will wonder if it is anxious about the respectable bottom approaching!
Hi Bell,
It's been a long time since I've darkened the virtual doorway of Open Salon (life's been busy), but a little while ago I thought to myself, "I wonder what Bellwether Vance has written lately?" so I came to check it out. I'm glad I did. I love this! I have pea shelling memories (on my grandmother's back porch) but thankfully, never had to pick them. I still love the idea of it and buy peas in shells when I can, so that my boys can have these memories, too. And there are many ways to cook yellow squash, but I've never added cream. I'm going to try it because the picture looks delicious! And, Mumford and current favorite. I've had the CD on repeat in my car for weeks. :)
Clay -- I'm still intrigued by the process you describe. There's a whole world of food that most of us won't get to taste. That makes me sad but also... hopeful. Eventually, the global economy should mean that a taste of anything is possible!

Art -- It's strange that my pants are, at this very minute, stained with beer. And I desire Velveeta, but will not -- absolutely not -- purchase a plastic brick of it. How on Earth do you know these things?

Franish -- If you have family in Florala, we are related somehow.

Chrissie -- Chairs have the ability to if a chair presents its lap for your bottom without you seeing a movement from the corner of your're good!

Lisa -- Oh the cream (and the nutmeg, just a bare touch) are glorious! As for peas, I did the same thing for my kids but they never really caught on to the work of pea shelling. I guess the urgency is lost if you don't have bushels of them out on the porch waiting to shell. My daughter made me buy the Mumford and Sons CD, and it's on my steady rotation as well -- and I LOVE this youtube video because it captures the JOY of performing so perfectly. I think maybe pea picking wouldn't have been so awful if we had ipods. would have sucked regardless!
"Get your pea pickin hands away from there!" was Grannie's call to arms when a stray finger reached into a pot or a dish that it didn't belong in.

I just love your characters Belle. Nannie, Aunt Floy, now Vergie and Mrs. Ray. Please keep them coming - I need to cackle and cry now and then.

One more thing, remember the loose Kleenex redolent with eau de Juicy Fruit folded down in the pocketbook? Oh, and the folded plastic rain hat. Can't leave home without that.

I am so glad to read about your Peas and Q's. You have now made this plant one of my favorite and I thank you for that.
Our rows must have been shorter than yours. We only had one row of peas in our Iowa back yard garden and picking the peas meant I could eat all I wanted raw. I never understood why the adults cooked perfectly good peas and took the crunch out of them. I loved the feeling of being "off the clock" when ever I was harvesting anything. Thanks for the reminder! Oooh -- and now I get those sugar pod peas -- no need to shuck them. I used to peel that fibrous liner off the pods and eat them raw, too. Now there's no need for peeling.