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Ville Platte

I remember these houses from a long time ago, from visits with my mother. They were old and wooden and off the ground. Coffee was made in drip pots and served in matching cups on trays and French was spoken. There was no background noise, just a language I did not understand and stillness. A pot of white rice was on the stove and the floors were hardwood or linoleum. These times when a treasured recipe was written on a scrap of notebook paper and kept in a cluttered kitchen drawer, these times when there were party lines, and “The Stories” were on at noon. Sometimes, there was only a bare lightbulb that had to be twisted to come on, but there was a fresh tablecloth and a tiny spoon to stir your coffee. The food was whole… baked sweet potatoes, fresh chicken in a stew, just caught fish in a couvillion, sweet tea in colorful aluminum glasses with dents and ice cubes from an ice tray and, perhaps, some Steens syrup and French bread. It all seems so surreal now when I try to grab those moments of so long ago, moments with my mother in her hometown. I wish I had more recollection; I wish I still had her.

These times were long before Facebook and internet. There was no “checking” on what others were doing and no pictures of someone’s exotic vacations; the day was drawn and quiet, the tiny kitchen was busy, company was welcomed with coffee and leftover sweet potato tart, and the long afternoon allowed for time spent on the front porch.

I think a lot about these women and their daily lives, these hidden lives of long ago. The lives that were spent within the boundaries of their homes and small communities, lives that were tended to with detail and meals were homecooked and tables were set, lives where the focus was on family, your family, not the Kardashian family. I suppose these childhood flashes are just that, flashes of how I perceive and remember; I am certain there were hardships, but I also am certain, they were more in touch with reality and the things that mattered.

I wonder where their idle thoughts roamed; what did they do before laptops were in their kitchens and the world wide web was in their hands? How did they find a new recipe, how did they know anything? Were they more creative, more resourceful, was it better then?

I still remember the softness and the stillness and the smell from kitchens of roux and black coffee where “comment ca va” and hearty hugs were always a part of the day. I wish I had paid more attention on this journey I was on, this journey into authenticity, this journey where there was no technology, there was only you and the real world.

p.s. I write this observation from a laptop in my kitchen…

Pam Shensky

Berry Tales

August 20, 2023

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