I have fond memories of the vacant lot next to my parent’s house in northwest Louisiana. The remains of an old fence bordered our yard and the adjacent lot, and a thick muscadine vine covered much of the fence. I don’t recall the time of year the vine bore fruit. I do remember vividly my brother and me picking the thick-skinned berries for my mother, eating one of every five that we collected.
We didn’t worry about washing pesticides off the muscadines before we ate them because there were no pesticides at the time – except for DDT, which we didn’t know would hurt us. The purple skin was too sour to eat so you simply popped open the fruit and ate the pulp. Less the seeds of course.
A blackberry bush grew nearby and we collected and sampled them when they were ripe. My mother made jam and jelly with all the various berries my brother and I gathered - jam and jelly devoid of preservatives. The vines and bushes provided a bit of shelter from hot Louisiana sun – shelter for critters such as grass snakes, stinkbugs and stinging scorpions. We collected them as well.
There’s now a new fence between my parent’s old house and the once-vacant lot next door. Gone are the muscadines and blackberries, replaced by grass, brick and concrete - at least for the rest of the world to see. In my memories, muscadines still grow there, their thick purple skin still as sour as their inside's are sweet. There they'll remain until the last ashes of my life waft away like wispy Louisiana clouds racing from the sun.
Born near Black Bayou in the little Louisiana town of Vivian, Eric grew up listening to his grandmothers' tales of politics, corruption and ghosts that haunt the night. He now lives in Oklahoma, and continues to pen mysteries and short stories with a southern accent, Please check out his Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBook author pages, and his website.