As I’ve detailed in many blogs I’ve spent a good deal of my life hoofing it from one location to another across our fair country. This was a story I published when I first began blogging about my times in Arkansas when the only ones who stopped by to read over my shoulder were myself and the cat.
Living in Arkansas was like going to a different planet for me. Once acclimated to the humidity, if one really ever does, I was struck by the amazing beauty and dramatic scenery surrounding me. The water was the first of many differences. Imbued with an almost clay like color giving it had the appearance of a chocolate mocha. Jutting tree limbs poked out everywhere like ghostly figures guarding a somewhat eerie domain. Buzzing insects were a given, ranging from extraordinarily persistent mosquitos to chiggers, fleas, ticks, bees and a entomologist’s happy list of others. Not to be outdone, the slithering and reptilian species stuck their scaly heads up from beneath the browny depths from time to time, or skimmed gracefully along the surface.
One weekend I went fishing for catfish with my husband at the time. Before I moved to the south I viewed a catfish as bottom feeders, something you threw back if you happened to haul one in. Once I tasted the delicate flavor of a freshly caught catfish dredged in a half mix of cornbread and flour then deep-fried, I was as hooked as that well whiskered fish.
I had taken my sketch pad and drawing utensils with me that day, in case I became disenchanted with watching the bobber popping up and down. My husband expertly cast both rods. Handing me mine, I anchored it in the dirt, and picked up my pencil. It was seductively warm and after a while I leaned back on both elbows and allowed the sun have it’s way with me. “Hold still”, were the next words I heard. Opening my eyes I caught a movement to the right of me. A cotton mouth snake was making his way up the bank about two feet from my two feet. I’m not sure if I wet my pants, but I’m quite sure I thought about it. It stopped next to me and sat up as if to say hello and moved on. Everything inside my body had already moved on.
I needed to find the restroom. Well, why not, at that point? What was available was a partially open-air state park type cement building labeled “Men” and “Women” on either side. I had bib overall shorts on that day. I know this for certain because shortly after entering the building I dragged the bib portion behind me all the way back out the door. Sitting down on the toilet I noticed a very loud buzzing which I attributed to telephone wires. Why, I thought there were telephone wires buzzing in the middle of God’s country I have no idea, but we’re not dissecting my mental acuity. Letting my mind wander as one will when occupied in such a manner, my eyes explored the room eventually gravitating towards the ceiling. High in the corner, was a huge brown mud-like looking mass with hundreds, I mean hundreds of bees swarming around it. From what I came to understand afterward, they’re called mud dobbers, or wasps. Now, I am a bee freak no matter what you call them, and by this I do not mean I am crazy about them, but rather that I’d rather share space with a serial killer. In total heart pounding terror I ejected myself from the seat in mid-stream and ran screaming from the restroom, the metal from my my bib overalls clinking along in the trail I left in my wake. There were a number of local people scattered around the parking lot who I’m sure I gave something to talk about while frying their catch that evening, and probably still.
Living down there I was always viewed as a “northerner” but as time went by I found people accepted me for that and although I would catch a neighbor eying me from time to time as though I was a specimen in a petri dish, for the most part they generously welcomed me into their world and made me feel at home.
Perhaps coming from Nova Scotia I could never adapt to the claustrophobic heat and humidity that claims the land during the summers, but I can see why so many writers emerge from the south because it is so rich with stories, legends and history. People wave at strangers as they pass and say hello without being prompted. All in all, although I probably couldn’t say I fit in, like a square peg in a round hole, with a little adapting and sanding here and there I made it work.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. – John Lubbock
Okay, these are so yummy I serve them as appetizers or as with tonight next to my chicken tenders. Just addictive. This recipe will serve 6.
Parmesan Potato Stacks
1/4 cup melted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 large russet potatoes, sliced very thin
4 scallions, chopped fine
6 pieces of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 cups Italian blend cheese, shredded
1/2 cup 3 cheese blend (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago), shredded
Sour cream and chives for dipping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray 6 slot muffin pan (large muffins) with cooking spray.
Melt butter and garlic together and cook for 3 mins. Remove from heat. In large bowl combine butter/garlic mix, seasonings, 1 cup of Italian blend cheese, 1/2 cup 3 cheese blend, scallions, crumbled bacon and potatoes. Using your hands, separate potatoes and coat all pieces completely with seasoning and butter.
Stack evenly in the 6 muffin slots. Sprinkle with remaining cup of Italian blend cheese.
Bake uncovered for 20 mins. Tent potatoes and continue cooking for another 25-30 mins. until golden brown and potatoes are tender.
Serve with sour cream and chives. Yum.
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