October 28, 2013 10:00:27 AM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
Shirley, my walking partner, invites some online friends to stay with her about once or twice a year. Cec (short for Cecilia) came from Toronto, Canada, and was the first to arrive.
Cec joined us for our morning walk. It was an eventful walk as we turned down West Plymouth Road and were greeted head on by an armadillo. "What is that?" Cec asked.
"It's an armadillo," I said. "Some people call them possums-on-the-half-shell. They have a thick coat of armor that even buzzards don't like. They don't see well."
As we got closer the armadillo startled and scurried into the brush. Cec was excited to see her first armadillo, and we were excited it wasn't road kill.
Shirley's friends fly from all over North America to come right here to the Prairie to experience the creek, the critters, the cuisine, the culture. The fog was thick that morning. Shirley talked of their kayaking plans.
"Oh yeah, that reminds me. Dake shot two rattlesnakes down by the creek," Shirley said.
"Are you sure they were rattlers?" I asked.
"Yes," Shirley affirmed. "Dake knows rattlesnakes."
Cec was quiet, as her group was staying at the camp house on the creek; armored armadillos, now rattlesnakes.
We walked past Oop Swoope's place and pointed out the horses, the beauty of fall trees, leaves and sky. The early morning fog burned off rapidly so we stopped to shed our jackets.
"That tree has a lot of pecans, but mine at home don't have many," Shirley said.
Cec stopped in the road, "That's a pecan tree?" She marveled, "I've never seen a pecan tree."
Cec says "pe-can."
We told her it was "pe-con," 'cause we have the trees so we know, and besides hadn't she ever heard of "Southern Pe-con?"
"Can you eat them right off the tree or do you have to cook them?" Cec asked.
Shirley said, "No, you can eat them like they are. That's how I like them. They're not like some nuts that need to be roasted." We kept walking.
Seeing the pecan tree launched us into a discussion of cooking with nuts that I didn't have any input in. We also talked about what kind of nuts we liked. Cec said that she bought mixed nuts, and then we shared which nuts we picked out first. I like the almonds. Shirley sticks with pecans.
It only occurred to me later that we didn't explain the green hull on the pecans and that you had to wait 'til the pecan was ready and fell out of the green hull. I remember being little and pulling the pecans out of the hull, and Momma said don't do that -- 'cause the pecan wasn't ready.
I also remember Momma climbing up the pecan tree and shaking the limbs so the pecans would fall off. Now wouldn't that be a sight for Cec to see -- Momma shaking down pecans.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.