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Published on March 16, 2021

Chasing the Creator

What good are fancy words if folks don’t know them?

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

I grew up on a sharecropper’s farm with my mother, sister, and grandfather, and everyone worked.
Chores were given as soon as you could walk and carry something at the same time. When I was four, slopping the hogs and feeding the chickens was my responsibility. Slopping hogs wasn’t pleasant, but then neither was reaching in for an egg and grabbing a chicken snake.

Both were preferable over my other chore: emptying chamber pots. It seemed the wind always changed directions just when I tossed the contents.

Farm life is not all work, although it seemed that way when I was four! There were good times on the farm, especially the front porch in the cool evenings. That’s where we shelled peas, ate hot roasted peanuts, or salted watermelon in season.

Our only interaction to the outside world was waving when a car went by, even if we didn’t know them. We never had a TV on the farm. Our down-the-road neighbors did, and they would occasionally invite us to watch a program.

I can’t remember one of the things we watched on their TV, but I do remember all the stories from our nights on the front porch. That may be because the same ones were told over and over. But there is comfort in hearing where you came from, how your family came to be together, ending up in Texas.

My family heritage, like me, is colorful. They came in covered wagons, preaching, making caskets and burying people along the way. Others came bootlegging. Definitely an untapped network realty show!
One thing country people understand is soil maintenance and preparation. They know the soil must be turned, roots removed, and turned again. Our farm was tractor-free, so it was done with one mule and a single plow. There weren’t any shortcuts, or quick fixes here. To have a harvest, you must work the soil (emphasis on work) to have a harvest. For the faint-hearted, I left out the gathering and spreading of the cow manure, although the dry ones made excellent frisbees!

Developing and maintaining relationships is a lot like preparing and planting the soil. If we want to have a harvest, it will require work.

Roots will have to be uncovered and removed to allow room for good things to grow. If we ignore them, or pretend they aren’t there, ugly things will grow. Things like bitterness, unmet expectations, and anger will take root like my regrettable decision to plant a Canna flower. That bright orange flower was so pretty to look at on day one didn’t look so pretty when year two came, and roots were popping up everywhere. By year three, the Canna had taken over, and orange had become my least favorite color.

The Canna is a word picture of things we plant and allow to grow in our heart. The heart is unseen, unless you work in a Cath lab, but the average person can tell what’s in there by what comes out of the mouth. Those words are like low-hanging fruit for easy picking. The word of God tells us that actions follow our thoughts. Basically, we are what we think about. What we see with our eyes and what we hear programs our hearts, and actions are soon to follow.

Words, spoken or written, have the potential to change thought processes. My critics have noted on more than one occasion that my writing is simplistic. That’s true. If you must have a dictionary in one hand and a synonym checker in the other, I’m in over my head.

By the time I’ve traced the meaning of words, I’ve forgotten why I was writing the article in the first place! Honestly, in the world of “literary people”, I am the hillbilly cousin seen sparingly at family gatherings, and only then because “she’s family after all.”

Incidentally, just so you know, a person’s character enters the room way before the degrees at the end of their name.

I’m aware that my homespun writing doesn’t carry the weightiness of illumination into the advanced things that interest peak climbers. Truthfully, most of us living in the valley aren’t even aware some of their words exist. Admittedly, it’s an accomplishment to have climbed to the peak of academia. And I applaud their effort, but there’s a reason the population is minimal at that altitude. The higher altitude has a difficult time supporting life.

Country people may not have the insight of peak climbers, and are perhaps even called simple-minded, but we know chicken doesn’t come boneless, filleted, or in fingers, and if the root’s bad, the fruit will be too.
Truthfully, there have been times when my fruit was so distasteful, it couldn’t even be given away. I seriously doubt the hogs would have eaten it, and I’ve even seen them eat dried corncobs like honey. If you grew up with an outhouse, you know the hogs didn’t get all the dried corncobs!

If like me, you’ve looked inside and uncovered some bad roots, it’s time to grab a hoe and start digging, because if the root is allowed to go deeper, it will sour everything it touches, and the only way your fruit will be palatable is with a heavy addition of sweetness from someone else.

With such limitless possibilities, all the world is truly our stage. However, it’s the performance on the stage that determines the Oscar.

Quick Berry Crumble
3 Cups Fresh Mixed Berries or 1 pkg frozen
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
½ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Flour
2/3 Cups Oatmeal
1/3 Cup Butter
¾ Teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Salt

Spread berries in a square baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine remaining ingredients and crumble over the berries. Microwave for 7-10 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes uncovered. Top with a scoop of ice cream.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)