Thursday, November 22, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: I'm thankful for fond memories of times past

On most southern farms, in days gone by, the first cold snap signaled the end of summer vegetables and the annual hog killing season. Thanksgiving Day was one the post popular days chosen for this "event". It often was a neighborhood affair with many families participating and reaping the benefits. Because many families were very poor, the meat and other products that came from the hog killing were what got them through the long winters, without going hungry. A great deal of arduous work was involved in the process. From start to finish, this usually lasted all day. People would come from all around and everyone played a part in the big production.
I grew up in the country. My father was a doctor and not a farmer .But I had the amazingly good fortune to grow up with the neighborhood hog killing expert and the annual hog killing site was almost in my backyard! So, every year, from very early on in my childhood, I had a front row seat to one of the most exciting southern events of the year!


There's a chill in the air

And holidays are near,
Thanksgiving's just 'round the bend;
There's a feeling amongst country folks
That's absolute prime,
Everyone senses it's hogkilling time.
Oh what a spectacle!
Oh what a show!
You'll find nothing like it,
If you look high and low.
From sunup to sundown,
It lasts the whole day;
And once it gets started,
Horses couldn't pull you away.
Everyone has his own part to do,
With all the commotion,
It feels like a zoo.
The poor victim for this occasion
Has long been picked out,
And soon will become food,
From his tail to his snout.
There's a shot and a squeal
And he's out for the count;
A cut of the throat,
And blood spews like a fount.
In a barrel of hot water,
He's cleaned and de-haired;
Amongst all the men,
This giant task is shared.
A skillful knife separates all parts of meat,
Including pig ears, pig tail, land pig feet.
The women's task is always chittlin's to make.
There's a boatload of goo and muck
They must rake.
When nightime falls,
All surround the black pot;
Where the oil is bubbling,
And boy is it hot!
Pieces of skin are stirred with a surge,
And after some time,
Crisp cracklings emerge.
Sweet potatoes are roasted,
Right in the fire;
And of these simple treats,
No one ever does tire.
When it's all finally over ,
And the day is all done;
The grown-ups are weary,
But, the kids just had fun.

-2008 Patricia Neely-Dorsey
from Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems

I have many fond memories of a wonderful southern upbringing.
Many of them, I am sure, are similar to yours!
You can find many more of these 

"memory poems" in my book:
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems.