A bumper crop of purple hull peas this year. I shelled a bushel when I was home last week and eyed the remaining swelling pods that clinged to the vine with satisfaction. A garden is such a reward. God is good; we need our gardens.
I love shelling peas. It's a strange thing to love, but there it is. When I was a girl - about nine or ten - my mother would take us to see my Granny and Papa who lived on O'Farrell Road. It was only a few miles away. Granny and Papa gardened, as everyone's grandparents seemed to do then. By July they'd have bushel baskets of peas waiting on us, their official pea shellers. We'd sit on the porch, on the cool concrete slab, and watch our thumbs turn purple from the slicing open the pods and scooping out the peas. We'd break frequently for iced teas or cold watermelon or a lunch of fried chicken, potatoes, green beans and cornbread. Pea shelling didn't seem like a chore then and doesn't seem like one now. Strange how that works.
While browsing at Central Market this week, I noticed a display of Ziploc bags of peas. They were labeled: Purple Hull Peas, $7.99. For a sandwich-sized bag! Note to self: plant enough peas next year to sell to Central Market. Mark them Organic Purple Hull Peas (because they are), $8.99. Get rich quick. Retire.
Purple hull peas are very earthy and mellow. Not anything like the green English pea. Perhaps they are most similar to black-eyed peas, only different. In the north, folks feed these crops to cattle. (Y'all are crazy.) In the south, we eat them with hot, buttered cornbread and fried potatoes. It is, hands down, my favorite meal. It is comfort on a plate. It is home in the mouth.
I'm headed back to Freeman House for the weekend. I intend to dig up all the garden's potatoes, shell more peas, and make the biggest cast iron pan of cornbread this world has ever seen. Then we'll sit underneath the ceiling fan and drain tall glasses of tea and taste home again. We'll be sure to remember what it's like to actually enjoy summer.
Today marks my 500th post on this blog. Five hundred. Wow. .. I've typed out 500 blog posts and still feel as though I haven't given this thing a fitting start. Why many of you have shown up to faithfully read and participate, I'll never know. But thanks anyway. This little place is an extension of me... of my home... and I've been proud to welcome each of you inside.
Here's to 500 more. -Brin