March 27, 2012 10:10:57 AM
It was spring and I decided to throw a Prairie block party. It is very difficult in the Prairie to know where your block begins and ends so I depended on Sam to identify the neighbors. Regrettably, a few got left out.
The list was compiled and invitations sent, mostly to strangers. As each invitee called in their RSVP, I reminded them to please introduce themselves since I had not had the pleasure.
Neighbor Jan Swoope I knew, being the Dispatch lifestyles editor, Cindy Wiygul from church, Lenora Hatcher was a friend and a neighbor, and Lisa Younger Neese I knew because everyone knows Lisa. The rest were names in the phone book or a quick wave at the mailbox. I called Willis Pope because his wife's name wasn't in the phone book. He responded, "My lovely bride's name is Carolyn." I couldn't wait to meet this lovely bride.
I asked Lisa Neese if she thought her mother might come, that is if she were able to get out. Lisa said that she and her sister-in-law, Missy Younger, would bring her.
The lovely ladies arrived at the appointed time. A few sampled my gourmet spread but more quickly they migrated to the porch for an old-fashion visiting.
The vivacious Beth Lucas arrived, followed by the increasingly vivacious Marsha Cosby and Karen Overstreet. The affable Eleanor Hairston presented a contribution to my fledging garden. But no one prepared me for the arrival of my final guest.
I worried about the loose gravel in the driveway or the awkward flagstones and the steps at the front door; how would she ever maneuver that obstacle course? Then the door swung open framing a stunning woman with flaming red hair, a smile as big as Christmas, eyes that sparkled, and I knew in a moment this had to be the woman that raised her children with that same sparkle.
Adrine Younger had arrived, and she was simply scintillating.
Adrine portrayed none of my expectations, no walker, not a gray hair, no ache or pain that I heard. She was eager to visit and tell me what a great man I married. I told her I heard the same about her. I may have neglected some of my other guests, though they seemed to be fine on their own. Hours later Lisa said, "Come on, Momma, we better go."
If Steel Magnolias rule the South, then no doubt Prairie women rule the planet. They were all scintillating, just scintillating.
By the next spring, around the corner and through the woods and down by the creek, I discovered more and more Swoopes. Lucky for me, Shirley Swoope knew everyone and proceeded to expand my guest list, plus she has a little workshop called "TazMania," where she makes greeting cards of all kinds.
Spring is in the air and the swamp irises bloom; can invitations by Shirley be far behind?
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.