It is winter. It is cold, wet, windy, frozen, and currently raining here in Tennessee. Today I drove up to my bank’s drive in window to make a deposit, the usual small talk between the teller and me. The weather, of course is the subject of our casual conversation. Yes, it is cold, yes I wish winter were over, yes I wish summer were here. Well, if it were summer we would be complaining about the heat. Now, I have to disagree with that, because last year I do not remember complaining about the heat.
My best recollection is actually enjoying the humid evenings, the sultry sway of the trees while the cicadas buzzed away in the branches. Wiping sweat off our brows as we sat on the front porch and enjoyed our evening toddy. A days work done, the sweet smell of fresh mowed grass, Miracle Grow & dirt under our fingernails from digging in the flower beds and weeding the vegetable garden, and the now and then wave to a passerby as they drove home over the ridge.
I do remember however, some very hot summers. Growing up in the South, you cannot help but know what a boiled peanut is. My Dad was a mechanic, leased a gas station from a man, and that man also owned the gas company he bought his gasoline from. That man made more money than my father ever saw. But, my Dad loved to come up with gimmicks, collected things, and was the best gardener I’ve ever seen. And he really enjoyed coming up with ideas to make extra cash, and to keep me busy during the summers.
Now you talk about hot. To give you a little insight however, let me explain that my Mother had traditions and superstitions. You NEVER went barefoot until May 1st of each year. So, basically, you went barefoot in the hottest of hot in North Florida. Daddy decided that he would sell boiled peanuts from his gas station. Now this establishment was located on Hwy 90, the main highway across North Florida. This was before the interstate was built, I-10. So, the tourists that were headed south to the many Florida roadside attractions, seem to always find their way through Quincy, Florida, on Hwy 90, and right past Daddy’s gas station. Daddy figured he could sell many bags of boiled peanuts during the tourist season and peanut harvest, and bring some extra cash into the household.
And so, the big stock pot and his propane gas fish cooker, now became the peanut boiling kitchen in one of the repair bays at Dean’s Texaco Gas Station. Little brown paper candy size bags were filled with the hot salty boiled things, stapled shut, and lined up in a cardboard beer flat box, and handed off to me to make my rounds around what we called the courthouse square. In and out of retail shops I would go, dress shops, toy, hardware, banks, and more, all located around the central courthouse of Gadsden County Florida. I had no reservations about asking if anyone wanted to buy some boiled peanuts for 50 cents a bag. It was fun, I was out of having to do chores, and I had a little jingle in my pocket. Those 2 years of peanut peddling blistered my feet, because I never wore shoes much in the summer. You did okay along the sidewalks in front of the storefronts with their retro striped canvas awnings giving shade to the sidewalks, but Lord, you start to cross a black asphalt street, and you were hopping, squealing and squeaking as you ran for the next corner curb. That “walk” light couldn’t turn fast enough. Hot asphalt and bare feet bring a whole new meaning to the term “hip-hop”. It didn’t take long to whip out some of that jingle, and buy myself a pair of rubber flip-flops about the second time I passed McCrory’s dime store. Now those were HOT summers.