Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PHOTOS and/or SOUVENIR(S) (vacation) (07/16/15)
TITLE: At Least It Didn't Stink
By Deborah Engle
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We were half way between home in Michigan, and cousin Marlyn in Mississippi. My 7 year old son was riding in the backseat. When we were all desperate for a potty-break, Mom pulled into the Dixie Rest Stop. Now, guiding Jamie toward the door as we left, I caught one more glance of the little pig buffet. If we ever made it back this way, I felt sure it would still be there, coated with an even thicker layer of dust.
We were heading for a first-ever family reunion, but would stay on for a long overdue visit with cousin Marlyn. Her place, and the reunion, were located in rural Mississippi. Mom drove and drove and drove and drove without finding our destination. We were both convinced we were thoroughly lost. “There’s people in that yard up there. Go ask them for directions.” She slowed down and pulled over on the shoulder of the road.
Before I could even begin to scale the steep driveway, a voice called out, “Is that Mae?”
The stranger making his way toward the car turned out to be Marlyn’s husband. We had arrived at our destination, in spite of ourselves.
Over the next three days, Mom and Marlyn caught up on 40 years of separation. Jamie got to catch his first fish from a creek with no trees, admire some newborn piglets, and snuggle some 4 week old puppies. He fell in love with country living, and would gladly have stayed behind when our visit was over.
The wild blackberries were ripe that week. Picking blackberries was a new experience for all of us northerners. Marlyn tried to prepare us, but we were naive. Long socks, long sleeves and long pants seemed excessive in the sweltering Mississippi heat, but we relented. Little good it did us, though, as each one of us were introduced to the plague of chiggers - the very definition of enduring misery. That cured all of us from ever thinking about picking blackberries again.
Marlyn, determined to be the good hostess, was not content to allow us to enjoy another long, lazy afternoon at the house. She made a few phone calls, and off we went to our final adventure. Well before we could see anything, we were having second thoughts. If the 90% humidity hadn’t already frizzed my hair, the overpowering odor would have done the job.
If you should ever receive an invitation to tour a hog farm, make sure to bring along a gas mask.The noxious stench was pervasive, penetrating through the vents of the car.
The high octane fumes made us reluctant to step outside, but it was inevitable. We made a futile effort to hold our breath, but eventually had to inhale. Once we recovered a bit, we took a good look around. All we saw was hogs. Hundreds of hogs. Safely penned up, but large and noisy hogs they were. Pen after pen of hogs. Jamie was the one that spotted King Boar. He was ensconced behind reinforced rails and an electric fence, way over in the farthest pen. He must have been the grandaddy of all hogs because he was the size of a mini van. Mini vans didn’t exist then, but if they had been, that’s how big this guy was. I had to hold my exuberant son back to keep him a safe distance away.
Marlyn had mercy on us and ended our tour quickly. Even so, it felt as though the foul air had coated our bodies with a heavy layer of sludge. When we arrived back at the house, we raced to be first in the shower.
Our visit to Mississippi was a happy one, as well as a memorable one, and what better souvenir than a dusty, plaster sow with her dozen nursing piglets? That little figurine sat on a table in my living room for years. I still couldn't help but cringe every time I looked at it, but at least it didn't stink.
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