Mornin’ call me awake like it usually do. Sumpt’in in the wind I guess or maybe that ole Jay bird tellin’ that long-tail cat off again. Don’t seem like them two’ll ever get along. That cat, she growed a foot since you was visitin for the summer last month.
Polly put her pencil down and wiped her brow glistening from the humid Alabama air. “Laws,” she muttered, “I wish I hadn’t tole Judy I’d write her.” She got up from the kitchen table to check the glass jars of blackberry jelly she was making. They were still warm to the touch. She placed them along the opened window sill above the sink. “What I got to say anyway?”
She moved back to the table, settling into her worn chair. Picking up the pencil, she continued:
Puttin’ up some blackberry jelly. Smell real good, specially after I put sugar and touch of vinegar in. Sugar and vinegar good for making lotta things better.”
She looked up at the jars standing on the window’s ledge. The morning sun caused the hardening liquid inside to glow a deep purple and sent tiny pin-points of light into the room.
That vinegar part got to be done real careful. It was taught me by your great grandma. It’s a family secret I want to teach you someday.”
She thumped her pencil on the table.
Did I ever tell you bout the time your great grandma, Jenny, went up to the State Fair in Mobile? She’d entered her blackberry jelly and sure nufff it won a Blue Ribbon. Your great grandpa, Frank, took her to town to celebrate and after eatin they went for a walk in the park. It was dark as midnight and fog from the river had closed everything in tight. As they was walkin, these fancy gas lights on poles came on. Frank, he turn to Jenny and say those lights remind him of her blackberry jelly the way they shine through the dark.
Your great grandma said sure nufff they do, but her mama tol her they was like shiny stars in heaven. Then Frank he say he agree but maybe them stars are like lamplights showin souls the way home. When great grandma Jenny tol me the story I said maybe the folk we love that went on before us is standing under those lights waitin. She say that’s a lot of lamppost to look under to find who was waitin on you. I tol her that wouldn’t matter cause everbody under those lights loved Jesus and probably knew where your family be and you’d be home shortly enuff.
She stopped writing and moved to the sink. She filled a glass with water and gazed out the window through the cooling jelly jars. Kyle, her husband, was by the barn chopping fire wood. Taking the glass back to the table, she sat down.
Your grandpa is out back choppin wood for this winter. He say he could feel a nip of fall in his bone this morning. You get to a certain age and you learn to trust what your bones say. Grandpa, he want you to know he love you and he was ever so grateful you hoein the vegetable garden. Laws he don’t like doin that, but he a good man, Judy. He love his family. May not say it nuff, but he show it ever day. Him being a good husband make me want to be a good wife to him. Sides I do nuff talkin for both and guess I’d get kinda upset if he was talkin all the time just like he’d get upset me bein out there tryin to chop his firewood. God, He just make us that way, so no use fussin bout it.
She listened to the steady chop of the axe, breathed the sweet smell of the jelly secreted with vinegar and watched as purple light burst through the quickening blackberries.
Never was much good at letter writin, hardly know what to say, so best to close up now. You stayin with us was a lovin blessin. Grandpa and me pray you’ll be back soon. But right now I got to attend that jelly. I’ll be sendin one your way packed in straw so it don’t break. Right now it’s shimmerin with late summer sunshine, I’ll close it up real tight so the light don't escape and you can see it when you unpack and remember us by.
Grandma and Grandpa
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