Oh the mother lode, it is possibly the weightiest topic we could ever try to articulate. Tin and I drove across the lake to see my aunt and cousins and feast. They know how to put on a spread – roast beef, corn on the cob boiled in coconut milk, cornbread salad, green beans, two kinds of potato salad, rolls, and a dessert table that was buckling under its own weight. I ate too much!!
I brought my aunt a blueberry bush I had picked up at the Green Market on Thursday, and she gave me a Harlequin Glorybower tree that she has been nursing since a sapling off of her big tree. It might be just what was needed for that fallen palm.
My aunt always said she wanted a large family and well, now she has one, they almost total 25 with children, grandkids, and now great grandkids in the works. I’m glad I’m part of her family too.
Bottle trees are common sights around New Orleans and the South, but truly my aunt’s is a beautiful one. Knowing that the lore is the bottles capture evil spirits and keep them from getting into your house, I started thinking I need to build my own bottle tree at the LaLa VERY SOON.
Here is a lovely passage from Eudora Welty’s short story Livvie:
Out front was a clean dirt yard with every vestige of grass patiently uprooted and the ground scarred in deep whorls from the strike of Livvie’s broom. Rose bushes with tiny blood-red roses blooming every month grew in threes on either side of the steps. On one side was a peach tree, on the other a pomegranate.
Then coming around up the path from the deep cut of the Natchez Trace below was a line of bare crape-myrtle trees with every branch of them ending in a colored bottle, green or blue.
There was no word that fell from Solomon’s lips to say what they were for, but Livvie knew that there could be a spell put in trees, and she was familiar from the time she was born with the way bottle trees kept evil spirits from coming into the house – by luring them inside the colored bottles, where they cannot get out again.
Solomon had made the bottle trees with his own hands over the nine years, in labor amounting to about a tree a year, and without a sign that he had any uneasiness in his heart, for he took as much pride in his precautions against spirits coming in the house as he took in the house, and sometimes in the sun the bottle trees looked prettier than the house did…
I was telling my aunt and uncle the challenges of a three year old and my uncle laughed uproariously and said, “I can remember when you and your sister were that age and your parents left you with us and you TORE OUR HOUSE APART.” As my Puerto Rican friend said the other day, as you were as a child so shall it be for you as a mother. I guess karma is killer.
My cousins were all headed to the creek after their kids napped – Tin is off naps, remember? – and we were still around when they were ready to go so we were going to join them, but then it was a little nippy and the creek is ice cold so I decided we’d head on to my mother’s grave and then home. In the truck, Tin had a meltdown that there would be no creek and when I tried to explain that it was too cold, because you see there is no sun right now, he looked out the window wistfully and said, “Sun, try to warm up please.”
And I told him tough luck because this is mother’s day, and that is my mother buried in that grave, and I miss her and want her to experience Zebra and Ellie too and he just had to get over it.
We passed a good mother’s day.