Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Joy of Giving...Vegetables

When is the last time someone gave you vegetables? If you are within a 10 mile radius of my grandmother, chances are it was very recent. It doesn’t matter if you want the  cucumbers or not. “You don’t like cucumbers?! Well, these are different, you’ll like these. These are homegrown.” 
I drove up to Royston from Atlanta on Saturday, to attend our annual family reunion, and returned home with a big bag of okra and some green tomatoes for frying. If that ain’t country I’ll kiss your ass. Royston is the small town in North Georgia where I grew up. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? I’m shocked. It’s the home of Ty Cobb! I actually met a guy who said, “Of course I know Royston! I stop in to pay my respects to Ty Cobb every time I drive to South Carolina!” He turned out to be a nut-job...he actually freaked out on me because I thought it was strange that he went to Dallas just to buy a hat. 
“What’s so fucking crazy about that?! If you had ever been to my house, you would know that I’m really into hats but you DON’T because you refused to come over when I asked you the other night!!” 
“I was with my friends. And it was like 2am. Why am I justifying this to you?! I’m leaving.” 
I think that was the only time I’ve ever walked out in the middle of a date.
Guess I should have seen that one coming...

Fun Facts about Royston:
  • Population 2,708
  • The most popular restaurant in town is The Roystonian. Booty’s Catfish House is a close second. 
  • You will see at least 3 people you know at the grocery store, so you can’t wear your pajamas to buy ice cream. Also, you can’t buy ice cream after 9pm because that’s when the store closes. Also, you can’t buy liquor there at all.  
  • We eat a lot of butter beans. 
  • There are two traffic lights in town. 

The best thing about Royston is that my grandmother lives there. She is one of the most fascinating creatures I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She says some mean shit sometimes, but she loves me so much. 
This past Saturday:
“Hurry up and shower, you don’t have time to wash your hair...it looks fine! You have to take me to meet Annie Louise to get some vegetables!”
...shower, shower, wash, wash, rinse...putting on makeup and she comes in...
“Good Lord! When was the last time you washed your hair?! It looks awful!”
I turn and scowl
She busts out laughing, and then quickly puts on a straight face...
“You’re gonna sweat at that park anyway, it looks fine, let’s go!”

We meet Annie Louise in Danielsville, about 20 minutes outside of town. She pops her trunk to reveal large bags of fresh okra, butter beans, plump tomatoes, corn that she calls “jackpot corn” because it bares both white and yellow kernels, and a beautiful orange pepper the color of a sunset. She grew all of these vegetables in her garden, and picked them specifically to give to my grandmother. 
On the way back, we stopped at Rite-Aid because Cascade is on sale. Obviously, this was a pressing matter. I stayed in the car and kept the air conditioning on the tomatoes. When my grandmother returned to the car, she had the store manager with her. “Here, take some of these tomatoes, we can’t eat em all! Here, here, take some okra too.”
One thing I’d like to note from this vegetable exchange is the pure desire to give. Sure it’s just homegrown vegetables...wait, it’s homegrown vegetables! That’s awesome! But the giving here is simply for the joy of sharing. There are no expectations attached at all.

Oprah says “Every gift is your way of expressing how you feel about another person.” It’s not just about the vegetables here, it’s about sharing joy. It’s about a small gesture that says “I care about you, and I’m glad you’re in my life.” 
My grandmother is notoriously giving. If I tell her “I like your shirt” the first thing she says is “You want it? Here, let me change real quick.” She literally offers me the shirt off her back. It’s really amazing. But then she gets pissed when I tell her I like it on her but not for me. I mean, it’s an old lady shirt for gods sake. 

When contemplating this sharing of garden goodies (because these are the kinds of things that occupy my mind, apparently), it occurred to me that gifts can be small, completely random and yet very meaningful. We don’t have to wait until the perfect time, or for the perfect, most badass gift ever. We can start giving more now. Although, currently...as far as give-able items go...I’ve gotta a bunch of craft paint, some extra mason jars, about 20 rolls of ribbon, and some apple vodka...but I know an awesome little girl who would love some paint and a lush who would love some vodka. 
It’s no secret that what we put into this world is what we get back. When we give, we receive. +PLUS+ it just feels good to give to others. So let’s challenge ourselves to be more giving. Feel free to start challenging yourself by giving me some stuff *wink*
OR, better yet, you can donate to the Nicholas House Transitional Living Shelter where I tutor the aforementioned awesome little girl by clicking here.
Have a super amazing, energizing and exciting week!
P.S. I love you

Special Thanks to:

Papa who shells butter beans

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