L.A. really stands for Lower Alabama. For some in the South it’s a hoot of a joke.
It’s where Gadora wove happy memories swimming in Hogs Foot—the murky tea-stained watering hole at the curve of the dirt road—where my parents swam as children too. Where I dragged my feet off the back of Granddaddy’s mint-green oxidized truck on the way to The Pond (shotgun in hand, he might tag along to protect us from water moccasins, while Grandmother sat at the water’s edge shooing off pesky minnows). We shelled peas on the back porch, while Gadora anxiously fretted over each churn of the ice cream maker hoping this time it would be ready!
Too, Gadora remembers that somehow sweeping was never a chore when using that broom! In fact, I’d whistle while I worked. Grandmother’s was made from straw on her land, with inner tubes cut into strips to hold the bundles together. On my last trip South, and after passing a dancing field of red, I expressed a longing for my own broom.
My Uncle knew just the spot, and in November we’d not be disappointed.
Using a machete he’d whack the grass off just above the ground, and hand the stalks to me.
With a much less scary kitchen knife, I’d cut down inside the ends to remove the curly-Qs. Shaking the fuzzies out into the setting sky was a simple delight.
Our hands cold, and garbage bag full, we moved locations and set out our broom piles. With ends cut blunt, it was time for binding. Without inner tubes, we found jute a great alternative and started winding it around the middle part of the bunched stalks towards the base, where we’d tie them off.
To inspect the end of each bundle closely was to discover gold-tone strands of straw sitting next to strands pink in hue, and grass green. Each bundle-turned-southern-sweeper gave Gadora a smile and brought the memory of my Grandmother wildly alive. She in her Grasshopper canvas skimmers would have used such a broom on her back porch, or playfully at my bottom when I’d begged for more ice cream. Each broom was made from a pile of memories my Uncle and I each had of our own childhoods and from a time when the Earth supplied exactly what we needed to get by.