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Shannon Bardwell: Neighbors' bounty


Shannon Bardwell



On a regular basis I find fresh brown eggs waiting for me at the end of the driveway. Two egg crates will be balanced precariously on the gate posts. The eggs are gifts from the Wiygul''s chickens, and fine eggs they are. They are nice and brown and come all the way from across the road. Bryant recommends letting the eggs "sit" for a while before boiling for easier peeling. He mentioned store-bought eggs have been sitting quite a while before they arrive in my refrigerator.  


Travel time for our groceries is an interesting thought expressed in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Most of our food comes to our table having traveled farther than most families go on vacation. I''m pleased my eggs come from across the road. 


With Bryant''s eggs I make deviled eggs for church potlucks and scrambled eggs with fresh tomatoes and basil for Sam''s supper. 


Besides the eggs, there is a wire hook fashioned from a coat hanger where from time to time a bag appears filled with tomatoes and onions. These not-so-secret offerings are from Nick Hairston, who grows his vegetables in what was his swimming pool. Nick has a mechanical mind and can fix anything. He fixed his pool into a self-irrigating garden. Just as I was planting my own garden, I found a bag of onions tied to the gate. I flagged Nick down on the road, "How do I plant those?" 


Nick looked quizzical, "Ya don''t plant them, ya eat them." 


Nick has his work cut out for him in helping me to be a good gardener. Now he brings tomatoes. We especially like the small ones. I slice those thin and place them on a cracker. Then top them with a smidgen of grated cheese and some fresh black pepper. Nuke them for about 30 seconds. I have those ready for Sam when he gets home from work. I''m sure his mouth is already watering by the time he crosses the Tombigbee Bridge. 


Jacky Triplett presented us with a bag of eggplant, yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes of all sizes, and green peppers. They were so perfect I put them in a Longaberger basket and photographed them. Then I got to wondering if Jacky really grew those since Jacky is known to be a jokester. I asked his wife, Margaret. She laughed and said, "No, he really grew those." They were truly picture perfect.  


I cooked the eggplant like they did at my school-days cafeteria. You peel them, boil them with a little chopped onion and garlic, drain and add seasoned bread crumbs then mix them up like mashed potatoes. Sam was suspicious of eggplant and agreed to take one bite and, well, it was a start. I ate the rest.  


The eggplant got me to thinking, wonder why we don''t have cafeterias anymore? I remember Momma loving to go to Morrison''s at the mall or Piccadilly in Jackson. I guess now we have "Happy Meals."  


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer who lives in the Prairie. Her email is [email protected]


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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