As the brutal heat of the Mississippi summer subsides in September, lingering in the warm afternoons, slipping off in the nights, people plan their gatherings, homecomings and reunions. Such it was with Allison Eastman Green, who lives in rural Calhoun County, in the community of Rocky Mount. Allison lives near her mother Mary Eastman, who came from a big family in Louisiana of seven sisters and one brother. Mary, a widow, has had her sister Jean visiting for several weeks, and on a recent weekend, three other sisters, Rose, Kay and Mott came to her home for a visit.
“Let me tell you,” Allison said, “that mother and Jean were just as excited as two kids getting to go to Disney World. They cleaned the house, decorated the yard and prepared a feast. It was an overwhelming experience for me to just be a small part of this. My Momma was so excited. What a blessing!”
And feast it was, with baked ham, sweet potato casserole, potato salad, fresh home-grown sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, fried squash, homemade pickles, deviled eggs, slaw, beets, corn bread and rolls, baked beans, fudge, strawberry cake, sweet potato pie and pecan pie with plenty of sweet tea and freshly squeezed lemonade. These are staples of the Southern table, and though I am bound in a remote, unfriendly city where such foods are most often little more than a memory, it strengthens my soul to know that they are still gracing the homes of people who gather in the rolling hills of north Mississippi when the cool winds blow and on clear nights you can see the heavens.