7/3/20 – Tennessee
We crossed the mighty Mississippi River into Tennessee, my home state where I was born and went to college. Fond memories flooded my mind, the truly good days of college, the many friends I made, some of whom I would get to see in Memphis, like my cousin Nancy and long-time friend Clark Reese. We set up in the RV Park at the AG Center, a working farm where the science of agriculture is studied. Just out our door were bike paths and trails leading through acres of farms with every kind of crop and a greenhouse the size of a football field. The corn was as high as what we’d seen in Kansas. A surveyor stood in a field looking through his transit inspecting some smaller crop no doubt monitoring its growth.
Our first day in Memphis would be a bike ride on the farm but the ride would be short. It turns out one of the bike trails passed conspicuously close to a Waffle House. The lure was too powerful to overcome. I’d have to ride on a street with no shoulder to get there, something I prefer not to do. I have a lot of riding to do and safety is rule # 1; but, in this case the reward was worth the risk. Judy can’t understand my romance with Waffle House. She calls it the “Awful House.” Whereas a server screaming loud enough for the entire place to hear, “One pecan waffle and a side of grits” is music to my ears, she cringes. Now in the age of Covid, hardly anyone was in the restaurant. People came and went in masks picking up phoned in orders to go while I waited just outside the door. In about five minutes I heard through the glass, “John! Your order’s ready!”
I sped back to the trailer on my bike wanting to get at my breakfast while it was still hot. “Success!” I exclaimed as the butter melted on the waffle and the grits. The food in the South is so good. It seeps right into the soul and renders a feeling of sublime satisfaction. Maybe that’s why they call it soul food.
Later we met up with cousin Nancy at the farmers’ market here at the AG center. Fresh corn, lima beans, big beautiful tomatoes, beets, watermelon, squash, cucumbers, eggplant and more awaited along with big friendly smiles from the proud growers. That night on Nancy’s patio we had salmon, corn on the cob, black-eyed peas, beets, fresh sliced tomatoes, and homemade chess pie. All were sumptuous but my favorite was the sliced tomatoes. They tasted just like the ones we picked fresh out of my grandfather’s garden when I was a kid. We used to eat them until our tongues got raw. There’s nothing like them.
While we ate, a mother robin fed her three babies in a nest under the eave. We could see the trio of tiny beaks stretched upwards while mother divided a worm between them. Everyone ate well tonight.