Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Sweet Potato


I've always considered myself a child of summer, but fall has a special place in my heart. Where I live, the days are still relatively warm well into November and even December, but the nights are just chilly enough for a fire in the yard. 

My husband makes the best fires, the kind of fires that make you slowly inch your chair back at first, only to scoot back up as the fire settles down to a steady simmer. A good fire brings out good stories, the true stories as well as the lies, the ones that have been somewhat embellished over time. The flames loosen the tongue and release tucked-away memories of people long gone, and the passed-down tales that they told around yard fires long extinguished. 

One night on Sapelo Island, while sitting around a fire listening to lies, Cousin Tracy reached into the ashes beneath the smoldering wood and dug out a small sweet potato he had been baking. He carefully brushed it off, broke it in half, and handed a piece to me. While I normally smother my sweet potatoes in butter, cinnamon, and sugar or honey, I took a bite from the bare hot orange clump and died right there on the spot and went to heaven.

To this day, I still think about that sweet potato and how it made me feel. In each bite, I could taste the generations and savor the history and tradition, and feel the love of ancestors whose names I will never know.