Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back in the South

A sunny day in Georgia (the state, not the country). I'm typing from my sister's living room. My mom is napping through her soaps (the Young and the Restless) even as she insists she's not, and the puppy she's just adopted is staring at me from the couch beside her. I'm back in the South. Thomaston, Georgia, just north of Macon.

Breakfast this morning was at the barbecue restaurant downtown. We had eggs, biscuits, and bacon and country ham. There were the usual covens of old people talking lazily as the waitress, Edie says, "More coffee, hon?" The biscuits were huge and fluffy, homemade buttermilk biscuits according to Edie, and the bacon was thick and crisp. After breakfast we went to the Upson Country Historical Society where I browsed through their collection of Creek arrowheads and their Civil War files. (There was one story of General Wilson, a young Yankee firebrand who didn't hear about Lee's surrender and decided to set the South ablaze. He went on to devastate every mill and factor from Alabama to the Atlantic. His army captured a train engine in Thomaston, set it on fire, and sent it full speed barreling into town.)

We picked up supper this afternoon at the Steve Brown Fish Farm--a catfish farm out in the hills. It's an old fish camp surrounded by shallow ponds. The water is a brown-orange--just like the Georgia clay--and aerated by fountains. Everything looks just like my GrandpPa Carl's old catfish farm down in Florida. Back in the 70s, we used to take our cane poles and go fishing, and I remember loving it because you were always guaranteed to catch something, and something you could eat, too. (On the lake with Dad, I never caught anything but gar which, my dad said, only white trash ate.) The smell of the fish camp was the same smell as my grandpa's shed where he used to keep all his tackle--a musty blend of old wood, rubber worms, and of course, fish parts. The cats are two dollars a pound. Their heads and guts have been removed but in the name of freshness, I guess, the woman running the place doesn't filet them until you pay for them. You can go catch them yourself if so inclined.

The results tonight: fried catfish (really really good), hushpuppies, cheese grits, cole slaw, and a pecan pie.

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