I did something Saturday night that I haven’t done in a long time and I felt like I almost committed a sin. But the urge hit me and I gave in—squashing the voices in my head that shrieked warnings about unhealthy choices. But I closed my mind to all the fitness magazines in the grocery store and ignored what I had read while skimming through their glossy pages.
I got out the largest frying pan I had and put generous, white globs of Crisco in it. And then I unfolded a small paper bag and dumped in flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Within a short time, I had rinsed and patted dry a big bunch of chicken thighs and legs—with the skin on them. I dropped the pieces of chicken in the paper bag and shook them until the mixture coated every nook and cranny. One by one, I reverently laid them in the hot skillet of grease. Yep … I fixed good old-fashioned fried chicken, yellow rice, green beans coated in butter, and sweet tea. (Can you hear the southern twang in my writing—honey child?)
My husband hovered around the kitchen, sniffing, and saying something that sounded like, yum, yum, yum or the purring of a kitten.
And then the memories started running through my mind as the scent of fried chicken drifted from the pan. The memories took me back to childhood, a time when we played outside every evening of the week. The neat houses all down the street had small porches with rod iron railings. Windows were open and every house had a screen door. The summer twilight hovered while all of us children gathered in the narrow street, rode bikes, joined in games, and enjoyed being together as the day peacefully ended.
The aroma and scent of other meals being prepared, in houses along the street, drifted in the air.
In my mind’s eyes, I see my mom finishing a batch of sugar-sprinkled molasses cookies for after supper and sliding them off the cookie sheet unto a paper bag, which had been cut open and laid flat on the counter. The scent of fried chicken, coming from her kitchen, blended with the neighbor’s hamburgers on a backyard grill. Someone’s Italian spaghetti added a tantalizing bouquet of spices to the warm night. The streets lights winked on, childish giggles and laughter filled the air. Young voices lilted and blended with the sound of a distant train whistle. A baby cried out two doors down and a mother’s gentle voice shushed it and murmured reassurance. Older folks stepped out on their porches and carefully sank into creaking rockers. A dog barked and jumped at a fence, yearning to join the children playing a game of chase between shadowed houses. The full moon lifted its face over the trees and turned the yards and bushes into a silvery painting of life, complete with innocence still intact. Neighborly trust and friendship was a normal way of life.
So, from the scent of frying chicken, my world turned back to a time when life didn’t seem so complicated. Children could play in the street and not worry about a stranger snatching them. Doors and windows were open to the warm nights. A neighbor could come up on your porch and call through the screen door to see if you were home, and you could yell for them to come in, without even stopping what you were doing. You didn’t have to lock your front door, if you were weeding the garden in the back yard. Unsupervised children could explore a creek or a patch of woods, build tree houses, and walk to the library or playground with their friends.
Fried chicken … a different time and place. Makes me want to close this blog post with the words, “Goodnight, John Boy!”
But I’ll bring it to close with a scripture. “God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see.” 1 Peter 1:4-5 NLT
Those who love God have hope in his son, Jesus. We can accept or reject the greatest gift that humanity has ever received. Someday, heaven’s doors will be thrown wide open and fear will vanish. You won’t have to worry about anything.
What memories do you treasure? The past has its marks in all our lives, whether good or bad, but our future is in God’s hands.
Please, leave your comments about this blog, and thank you for reading it.
© Karen Campbell Prough 2012