Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cotton Chopping & Sleeping Babies..........

Hello, all. It's another beautiful day here in Northeast Arkansas. Sparkling clear blue skies, almost the same color as the lovely morning glory blossom there to the left, and 70 degrees. Morning glories grow wild here, and though some of the wild ones are beautiful, they are considered an invasive weed, especially in the cotton and soybean fields. If you've never tried to chop them out of a cotton patch or garden, you truly don't know what you've been missing. You earn your money chopping cotton, especially if Johnson grass, cockleburrs, cow itch vine (it's called by the fancy name, "Trumpet Vine" in some nursery catalogs) or careless weed is involved. That's green cockleburrs to the left, under the morning glory, and a dry cockleburr under the green one. They stick to your socks and clothes, and in your feet if you step on them barefooted, too. Careless weed, top right, is called that for good reason, too. It has stickers where the leaves and stems join onto the main stem. Cow itch, or trumpet vine, the orange flowered vine, middle right, and Johnson grass, next picture under the cow itch vine, have rhyzomes that run under ground for a long way out from the main plant. They sprout a new plant at every segment if they're not dug up. On top of that, if left alone, they will sprout on top of the ground and put down new roots, too. Now, imagine that it's a bright, sunny 105 degrees in the shade, (and there's not any shade in a cotton field!!) there's not a breath of air stirring, and you are literally chopping and digging these WEEDS out of the ground, while wishing for a cold drink and a cloud to pass over for even just a moment's relief from the HEAT! Sound like fun to anyone? Anyone? No? Well, I got paid $2.00 an hour the first 2 years I chopped cotton. I was up to $3.00 an hour in 1982, the last year I chopped, and thought I was making good money at the time. Now imagine that your family farmed, and you had to get up every morning at 5 am, be in the field by 6, and chop cotton or pick it until dark-thirty. And the only pay you got for it was room and board, because it took all your Daddy could scrape together to keep everybody fed and clothed. Every once in a while, some kids got a little spending money on Saturday afternoon to go to "town", and maybe see a movie. I had a choice, but a lot of kids from my parent's generation and before didn't get to choose. Chopping and picking cotton is hard work when you're getting paid for it. I can't imagine having to work in the fields. There are very few cotton choppers around here these days, and nobody picks by hand anymore. My Mama and Daddy both picked and chopped, Mama more than Daddy. It was hard work, and a hard life, but I wonder if people are any better off or any happier with today's modern conveniences and gadgets. Another time that has come and gone, for the most part. As I've stated before in these pages, the "Good Ol' Days" are not always truthfully remembered. Just as is true for the times we live in today, there were good things and bad things about those times. Our memories tend to recall those times past with a lot more "wish it was" than truthfully happened. I think it's a very human way of coping with hardship, tragedy, loss and heartache.

Okay, enough of that, and on to some good stuff. There is a couple who are members of our church
who have a 4 month old baby. He is a sweetheart, and we have really hit it off. If I can beat all the other ladies to him, I hold him every chance I get, and usually he goes to sleep in my arms before church is over. I don't think there's a better, more satisfying feeling than holding a baby in your arms, especially a baby you have rocked to sleep. I always have an aching arm and an aching heart, too. It's so worth the aching arms to be able to hold them and cradle them to your heart. The aching heart is because you're overflowing with the love and sweetness, the maternal joy and contentment of mothering that baby, even if it's not your own child. It is inbred in most of us women to nurture and comfort, to love and care for a child. How many times have you been at a mall, church, supermarket or any place where lots of people gather, and heard a child cry, "Mama!" without turning to assess the situation? It's instinct, even if you don't have children, yours are grown, or yours are not with you at the time. And every Mama knows those individual cries.... The "alarm" cry, the "danger" cry, the "pain" cry, the "just a mad fit" cry, and the hungry, sleepy, cranky---and you fill in the occasion. Not to take away anything from our Daddies who are doing their very best to nurture and care for their children, or from those women who are incapable of giving birth to children of their own or choose not to have children, but there is a connection between a Mama and her child after carrying that child cradled under her heart for 9 months. I have the greatest respect and admiration for people who choose to adopt a child or children. Sometimes they have to work extra hard to forge that parent/child relationship. And occasionally, even if you've given birth to a child there is a problem with the parent/child bonding. I am blessed beyond measure with the relationship I had with my parents, and with Jessica.

Even though my relationship with Mama and Daddy wasn't perfect by any means, there was always love. And no matter what may come and go between me and Jessica, my love for her is unshakeable. I will not always approve of her actions, but my love for her is inviolable, even in those times when I want to shake her till her teeth rattle or when I'm grieving over the circumstances she finds herself in because of bad decisions. God is ever so much more loving and patient with us, don't you think? Thank you, Lord for that love and patience. I know I try Him every day.

Well, my sister, Sue and her hubby just brought me some fresh-picked poke salad greens, and I want to fix some to go
with our supper. I know my sister Donna is waiting impatiently for this new post, because she called a little while ago for another reason and told me I needed to post something new, she had already worn out the last one. So, I will hopefully get this posted and go tend to my supper for the evening. Just in case you were wondering, Baked chicken breasts, purple hull peas frozen last summer that Donna brought me, mashed potatoes and now, poke salad, probably scrambled with eggs. Mmmmmmmm.........good. Don't you wish you could come over for supper? LOL. :-)

THIS JUST IN: Boomama asked in comments about poke salad, and I Googled it. Lo and behold, there were a few fairly good pics of it in the images. I explained about what it is in my reply to her comment. I failed to tell her how to cook it, though. You wash it and pick over it like any greens, then boil them down, changing the water a time or 2 if you don't like the strong flavor so much. Drain most of the pot liqueur off and season with salt and, if desired, bacon drippings or a little oil. Cook a few minutes to season through, and serve, or break a few eggs into it and scramble together if desired. The more poke you have, the more eggs you add. I like spinach scrambled with eggs, too. Oh, you out there with your nose turned up, don't knock it till you try it! It's good stuff, I told you!

Click on any of my pictures on here to see them larger and in a little better detail.


boomama said...

Sister and I love the expression "dark thirty," by the way.

I'm still working on your Bella code...I've tried pasting it in these comments, in my comments, in an email, in a post on my blog...nothing works. But if you can upload the Bella button to a post just like you would a photo, then "imitate" the code in another button on your blog, you can probably do it. I'll keep working on it, though - now it's like a puzzle, and I have to figure it out. :-)

Supper sure sounds good...what in the world is poke salad?

boomama said...

p.s. :-) -
You're so good about encouraging new bloggers that I thought I'd share one with you: You'll enjoy it.

Susie said...

Great post and I recognize some of those weeds. Some people here actually plant trumpet vines in their gardens!
You're right about the "good ole days"
(they weren't always good or easy, but life was somewhat simpler then)

Meow (aka Connie) said...

Mmmm, sounds delicious ... care to share !!!
Take care, Meow

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Boomama and Sister,
"Dark-thirty" is an expression I've heard all my life, meaning after sunset, till it's too dark to see to work. We work from "can till cain't" sometimes around here, too. ;) Ever heard that one? LOL

I accidentally triggered the OCD, didn't I, boomama? Sorry, I didn't mean for the Bella button to turn into an "I'll whip this thing if it's the last thing I do!" party. :) I really do appreciate your time and effort. :)

Poke salad is a wild green that is best in the spring. The best size is when the new sprouts are about 6 inches to 18 inches high, and young and tender. If you saw it, I know you would recognize it from fence rows and beside the highways. It grows into a big plant with a long spike of small white flowers that make purple berries in the late summer and fall. Birds often make purple deposits on your car and other things after eating them. It can make you sick if you eat the berries or the thick stalks and roots especially. It's kind of like spinach when cooked, but it has a subtle taste all its own. It can be one of those love it/hate it things. Most people have a definite opinion about poke salad. You can find it sometimes in grocery stores, canned, but you really have to look. It's usually Allen's brand, I think. Good stuff, and it'll make your liver quiver, too, LOL. ;-)
Thank you for the new blog address, too. I'll check it out as soon as I answer my comments. :-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Trumpet vine is one of the most invasive and hard to kill "weeds" in this area. Farmers spend a lot of money on herbicides here trying to keep it killed out of their fields. I suppose one person's flower is another person's weed. :)

I lived some of those "good ol' days" and I know there is a lot of amnesia on the part of some people regarding them. ;-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Sure, I'll share---But it might be a little cold by the time you get here or I overnight it to Australia to you!! LOL ;-) You'd sure be welcome to sit down and eat with us if you're ever in the neighborhood, though. :-)

Nice to see your dancing kitty again in these parts. Have a good Friday and weekend. :)

boomama said...

Now I know what plant you're talking about...I just had no idea you could cook it. I love turnip greens and mustard greens, but I had no idea about this one. Thanks for the explanation...I don't know if I'm bold enough to try it for the first time on my own...I think I'd want an 'expert' to prepare it for me. I'm gonna ask Mama about it this weekend...I may have eaten it and just not known it! :-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

It's good, and the texture is a lot like spinach. Another thing: It's free for the taking!! I cooked down a huge stockpot full tonight to put in the freezer. You can't really mess poke up, and like I said, if you're leery of the taste at first, drain and change the water on it once or twice when you cook it. They're just like any greens after that as far as preparation. :)

Anonymous said...

Aren't babies the greatest? I wish I could have one more, but that doesn't look like it will happen.

I love the plant pictures. You post very nice and creative posts, Diane. I, on the other hand, write about goofy stuff. :-) I envy your writing style, and I love how you are so family oriented.

It's bed time. Have a wonderful evening/morning.

Sister said...


Yes, we love to use the expression "dark thirty." I'm also a fan of "dark o'clock," which I use on those mornings when I have to be an early riser!

Now for my sister's (BooMama) new fascination with Poke Salad...I don't believe she has ever eaten it, although one of our great aunts had a killer technique that resembled today's hot bacon dressing, and I think she used sliced boiled eggs instead of scrambled.

And, while both of you are too young to remember, let's not forget the Tony Joe White penned tune, "Polk(sic) Salad Annie", which was also recorded by Elvis and Tom Jones.

Oh, I'm just full of trivia tonight. :)

Anonymous said...

i love it when the women at church seem so blessed to hold one of my babies!

and i KNOW they're a pain in a cotton field - i'm surrounded by cotton fields... but i'm still a sucker for a gorgeous morning glory!

Nashe^ said...

no way! that is such a cute lil thing...


*oops, late for class hehe

Faith said...

Loving on babies! I wish you were at my church! I love Morning Glory's - who knew they were a weed??

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Awww....Don't put yourself down! You do a very good job, we just have different writing styles. You come up with things that would never occur to me to write about. ;-)

Love, LoVe, LOVE babies! There won't be any more for me, either, but I am waiting for grandkids in due time, no hurry. Jessica is only 18 and has college to get through before marriage and babies, Lord willing. :)
Have a good Friday, Mike, be careful at work. :-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

I've never eaten poke salad that way, but I've heard of it. :-)

And yes, I DO remember Tony Joe White's "Poke Salad Annie" very well, and it's a favorite of mine.....
"Down in Lousiana...." He had another obscure, kind of raunchy one called "I Get Off On It", too, that I like. It's more suggestive than vulgar, especially considering today's (nonexistent) standards. ;-)

It's nice to see you here again, I've missed seeing you in my comments, although I know you visit by watching my sitemeter. :-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

If you were around me, I would be on of those women who are blessed to hold your babies! I don't even mind when they fuss and need a diaper change, or need a bottle. :-)

I like the morning glories, too, and so did my Mama. :-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Hey, Nashe,
I was beginning to wonder if you'd skipped the country or something! Glad to see you in my comments again. Maybe you'll get a chance to comment again when you get in a boring, slow class. Come back soon! ;-)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

If you were around here, I'd be your girl for taking the babies off your hands for a while. I love 'em, and most every one of them loves me. Several people have mentioned it might be my built-in pillows that they like so much, LOL. I'm comfy to sleep on. ;-)

Morning glories grow wild here in Arkansas, several different kinds of them. One of them has tiny little pink to lavender blooms, about the size of a penny. They grow in the farm fields, ditches, fence rows, roadsides, etc. The sides of the railroad are a favored place for them to grow, and in the early morning sometimes they are gorgeous.

Brenda said...

I came by to thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such encouraging comments. You blessed me.
I see that you're a fellow Arkansan - I was born in England and raised in Little Rock, and we spent nearly every weekend visiting my grandparents' farm in Tucker. So, Howdy neighbor!
I don't have any fond memories of "poke sallet", but I do love me some spinach with egg.
"Dark-thirty" is one of my favorite expressions, too.

Pleased to meet you!

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Thanks for visiting,and Welcome! :-)
Howdy, neighbor right back to you. I live just a few miles south of Jonesboro, if you know where that is.
Come back and visit anytime. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was the baby in the family and one day when we were visiting in Tennessee we had a dry cockleburr fight in the field. I got covered in those things. It took me hours to get those off my hair and clothes.

I am going to ask my dad about poke salad...

Take care,

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Your Dad probably knows about poke salad.
Cockleburrs are literally a pain to get off your clothes and out of your hair. ;-)

Diane Viere said...

Love it! "If I can beat all the other women too him--he's mine!" :)

Thanks for sharing springtime in Arkansas! Springtime in Minnesota is beautiful too....but I'm not sure I could dedicate a post that would be quite so interesting as yours! :)


Diane@Diane's Place said...

Thanks, Diane, and I'm sure you could do a great job describing Spring in Minnesota. Tell us about some of your spring wildflowers and just what you see as you drive down your country roads, or in your neighborhood. It's interesting to all of us because we don't see it everyday like you do. Hope you're having a great weekend! :-)