Dad caught a mess of bream, and mama dredged them in cornmeal and fried them with fresh okra in her gleaming, black skillet. He and my kid sisters woke up at six on Sunday and beat the crowd to St. Marks, bringing home (at the expense of bright red sunburns) and shucking sweet scallops, enough for us all to have our fill once mama married them to butter and garlic. Tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers grown right there in their Lloyd yard filled the salad with Florida sunshine. Fresh squash, chopped and molded into croquettes, and grits more cheese than corn filled the plate to overflowing. The whole meal started out with freshly made salsa (mason jars full, lined up on the kitchen counter from canning the day before) and ripe cherries and finished up with sliced fruit poured over angelfood cake and lemon squares from a friend.
All of us on a Sunday night, in and out of the bright kitchen, sisters dancing in the high-ceiling hall, my best friend and his wife telling stories and smoking cigarettes on the back porch while trains boom past, dad half asleep and smiling from all the hunting and gathering, mama slinging pans and doling out hugs and advice and gossip. So many blessings.