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Ramblings by Rose Mary

Please refer to the Ramblings by Rose Mary main page for columns published in other issues.
Rose Mary can be contacted via e-mail at rwclarke@mibor.net.

 

 

 

 Writer Humbled by American Freedom

 

The changing of the seasons reminds me that I’m like Earth’s other beings: My life has followed predictable cycles with a rhythm that’s as familiar as a beloved tune. Trees such as our splendid oak that’s aflame with vivid orange have annual rings that reveal their history. .My life is marked by repeated experiences that have occurred year after year. October, November and December are a triple whammy of events that are indelibly inscribed on the pages of my internal diary.

October: Bonfires, wiener roasts, hay rides, trick-or-treating . . . Parents thought nothing of letting children go trick-or-treating after dark . . . And then came changes that made life less fun:. Leaf burning is illegal; parents started inspecting candy because some people put sharp objects in it; and trick-or-treating is limited to a couple of daylight hours for fear of molesters.

These days some say that Thanksgiving is an insensitive, hypocritical sham because of the treatment of the Indians. I revere my forebears who settled the Old Home Place with little more than an ax, determination and an abiding fath. However, their subsequent wealth came at a dreadful cost to the Indians who had lived there--one of whom is rumored to have been one of my ancestors.

Still, I’m comforted by the repetition of customs that have been carried down through the generations. On Thursday morning we’ll drive past many homes whose driveways are full of the cars of family members who have gathered. Inside turkeys or hams will be roasting, and the hostesses will be fussing and bustling around.

Before we leave home, I’ll bake Mama’s corn pudding to take to the home of one of Bill’s nieces. A simple casserole of corn, milk, salt, flour and eggs doesn’t seem of much import, does it? However, Mama’s corn pudding symbolizes my heritage and conjures up images of five generations of Hoosier cooks and their delectable, cooked-from-scratch comfort food.

When I stir it up, my ancestresses are lined up behind me: I imagine my great grandmother, Melissa, whom I never knew cooking on an iron range at the farm near Michigantown. Old Granny whom my mother called "Mama" passed the recipe on to Mother who wrote it in one of my cookbooks and later gave it to Vicki who wrote it down for me again one year when I’d forgotten where it was. Tradition may seem meaningless to some, but it warms my heart to know that all over America families will gather to share the dishes of their generations.

It isn’t the romanticized story of the Pilgrims and the Indians that’s important to me. Also, I wouldn’t want the life of my pioneer ancestresses with too many childbirths and deaths and a life of farm drudgery with no modern conveniences.

However, I’m mindful of why my forebears came to America and that people are still risking their lives to come here. So would I! I understand why a Congolese woman begged me to take one of her daughters to raise so that she’d have a chance at a better life without fear of being gang raped by marauding soldiers as happens in places like the Congo.

I should kneel down and kiss the very soil of America. I’m not only thankful for the bounty of this land upon which we feast. I am a free woman who can dress as she chooses, vote, run for office, worship or not worship as she desires, marry whom. she wishes or not marry, travel, get an education, work, and manage her own money. The press is often the first target of dictators and extremists. In America if I wish to write that a public official--and I could name several--is a nincompoop or the south end of a northbound horse, I can do so without fear of being jailed, and my publisher’s newspaper won’t be closed down.

I cannot change the past. It’s the here-and-now of America that I celebrate and for which I am humbly thankful.

I'll soon be writing about Christmas. Do you have any memories or recipes to share?

 

 

 

 

 

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