I didn’t intend to write today, I intended to paint, but somehow in the heat of this longest day of the year, this first day of summer, I found myself in my hopeless and overgrown garden, haphazardly hunting for cucumbers that may have survived the rains and the neglect; I wanted to feed them to my chickens. In my search, I found the overgrown yellowed ones, the ones that our human palates would not allow past our lips but my hens would happily feast upon. And surprisingly, I found small beautifully shaped, dark green, newly grown cucumbers. Immediately, I thought, I’ll make pickles. These pickles I make are very simple, they require only vinegar, salt and pepper and old jars of any size you have saved and pushed to the back of your cupboards. It is a recipe that, I believe, comes from my maternal grandmother, my mamae, who lived in Ville Platte. In summertime, there was always a jar of these pickles sitting on the kitchen table, ready to accompany and enhance the daily rice and gravy meals – that memory is beautifully etched and touches all of my senses. Anyway, I brought the cucumbers in to the kitchen, found a couple of just right jars, gathered the salt, pepper and white vinegar and began. After about the second slice, my idle thoughts went straight to my dad.
And as I said, I had no intention of writing today and had absolutely no plans to chime into the beautiful salutations I see on social media about all of the wonderful dads…but the pickles created a stir. He made these pickles for my nephew, Ben, after my mother died; it was a task he did so tenderly. I’m sure the surface value and intention was to provide Ben with this culinary treat but beyond that, it was his tribute to my mother and her culture and it was something that a father of the “John Wayne” era could do with domestic warmth. It was something that connected those memories and the love of family.
Anyway, after all that is said and not said and all that is done and overdone, it really is the little things we remember and hold most dear. Not all dads can provide the big things, (the things that only money can buy) but all dads can provide the little things (the things only love can give). Happy Father’s Day to all of you and my wish is that one day your memory is as warm and lovely as I found in my garden today…