PARABLE OF THE OLD WOOD STOVE

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Earlier this year Dr. Stephanie Evans of Clark Atlanta University  invited me to contribute a chapter to her collection of stories about African American women accompanied by recipes that inspired those stories.  I accepted the challenge and contacted my friend Coretta Simmons who is a chef of African American dishes.  In 1965, a year before Coretta was born, I lived with her parents while I registered black voters in Pineville, South Carolina.  With her recipe for Southern Cabbage-Tomato Soup in hand, I wrote the story that accompanied it.

I was surprised to find how lush in color and variety of flavors this collection of healthy recipes is with recipes from across the United States, Africa and South America.

Find this collection, OASIS: Oldways Africana Soup in Stories and my story, “Parable of the Old Wood Stove” with Coretta’s recipe here.  Our contribution begins on page 67.

“Parable” begins I’m Lucille and my internal clock is eternally set to the rhythms of my grandmother’s wood stove.  Every morning a clang as she opened the fire box to add wood disturbed my slumber. Then the rasp of the metal plates as she lifted them to spread out the coals got me stretching in my box bed of straw just behind the wall behind the stove. Finally the soft thunk of those plates settling back into the ledges of the round holes got me moving.

Almost seventy years made my Gram more “on time” than any
electrical device.  Only on Sundays was the stove quiet — still
loaded up with some wood on the coldest days of winter, but not for cooking. Saturdays were filled with preparation for a day of rest and worship, because, as Gram always said, “It’s not fittin’ to cook on the Lord’s day.”  Rest came hard for my grandparents working the cotton fields near Pineville, South Carolina…
A special thank you to my editor and friend, Lynn Pribus.  This story was due at a time when my husband was quite ill.   Although Lynn lives on the across the country from me and our schedules don’t mesh, she carved time out of her schedule to help finish the manuscript in the dollops of time I could work on it.  Without her, this chapter would have never been submitted.

 

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