Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Pecan Basket Rails

When I was a young kid,  my family and I used to go visit my Aunt Arbelle Creamer in her big old wooden house. It was a lot larger than the one pictured here and had a really large porch that I loved to jump off of and play on. It seemed so tall with 6 steps to get to the porch itself and there were no hand rails as I recall. Probably because my people were wiry and tough. They could get up and down those steps without any help carrying a basket or two on their hips. 

The porch was lined with wooden rockers and on any given day my Aunt or other members of the family, were outside rocking the day away after a long day of chores. The porch back then was not just a place to keep the rain off the front door; it was a place to observe life.  We might have been outside rocking but we were noticing the few cars that came down the road, we were forecasting what kind of day it was going to be or night, and we were often planning what we were going to do next, although we would not state that out loud. Some of the menfolk would smoke a pipe and the women were usually busy with shucking corn, shelling peas and beans, or cracking and shelling pecans. We did not have the nutcrackers they have today to use to crack all those nuts. We either did it in our hands cracking two nuts against each other or we put a nut in a handkerchief and hit it with a hammer. Sometimes we had an assembly line going. One would be cracking, one would be shelling, and one would be checking the final bowl for little piece of shell that you did not want in your pecans to sell or to eat. It went very fast considering how many pecans we shelled every year. 

I did not realize how hard my family had to work then. The only job or income Aunt Arbelle had as I recall,  were her pecan trees. People would come and pick pecans or they could buy ones from her already shelled. If you have never shelled pecans for any length of time, it is hard to understand just how much it hurts after awhile, but she did this everyday without complaint. 

I helped shell pecans at times but more often than not, I was asked to shimmy up the trees and shake the branches. I loved doing this even though I was hit in the head a hundred times by the falling shells. The trees were huge and filled with nuts and they littered the ground when we were done. Then we would pick them up in baskets and put then on the porch. When we were done the porch would have a rail made from baskets and that was the only rail the big old porch had on two sides. 

Sometimes in the stillness of the night such as this, I can still hear that screen door slamming and my Aunt Arbelle yelling to us.. "Either come in or go out", she would say. LOL. We knew that we had to make a decision to stay out or it would be made for us.

What a daunting task that much have been to shell the pecans, bag them, and bake stuff with them to make a living, but I can't ever remember her being cross. She simply accepted her life and went about living it. 

What a lesson for life that was for me! 

She had no expectations about her life. She knew that tomorrow morning she would wake with the dawn and begin her work. 

As I have lived my life and encountered hardship upon hardship, I remember this valuable lesson. We can accept our life, or we can fight it and have happiness elude us.

My smile has left me at times in my life, but it has always found its way back and I KNOW it is because of the strong men and women I have had in my life to teach me. 

My Aunts, the wonderful 6th grade teacher that helped me believe in myself and the wonderful friends that embrace me every day. 

One day I hope to be in a squeaky rocker, hearing the screen door slam shut but if not, the sounds live on in my memory and it makes me smile:-) 

I pray that you all have a wonderful start to your day. One with acceptance of the day and what comes. I am starting mine out with a heart smile that reaches my eyes:-)

Gloria Peacock Kimmel Oct 29, 2015

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