I wish I could turn back time, to those years when seeing a mess of beans like this meant sitting on the front porch at the lake with my Mama and my Nannaw. There'd always be in a big old pot full of beans or peas to be snapped or hulled, and we'd set to work with a colander in our laps and a brown paper bag between us with its top edges turned down just so for discards.
I know I likely complained bitterly about having to do this, but it was always after a morning swim when the sun was bearing down too hot for water to be much of a relief. We'd get up in the morning, jump into our bathing suits, and they pretty much stayed on all day. Having to do this sort of stuff in a wet suit, wrapped in a towel seemed, I'm sure, like so much joy-killing, but it was in the quiet of these moments that I watched and listened and learned. Not about beans or peas, mind you, but about the women whose best gifts I hope I got at least a middlin' share of.
When our work was done, the work of our hands would be tossed in a pressure cooker, a device that always filled me with fear and trembling. I can tell you with certainty that if I could conjure the sound of that pressure valve rattling right now, though, I'd also be able to summon the smell of cornbread and the taste of my Mama's iced tea, poured from old mayonnaise jars.
I lack a lake these days, but I do have a porch and a granddaughter, and a colander and some brown paper bags. There's no pressure cooker here, either, but we've got nothing but time.