Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aprons, meringue, and big floppy hats

As a small child, and even as an older one, I often thought that it would be nice to live in a previous time. One where women were, well more feminine (sipping coffee or tea, wearing aprons to cook, going to teas or church in big floppy hats) and men were more masculine. As I grew I began to recognize how much women have overcome to be where we are today; however, I still have to admit in the back of my head I romanticized a lot of former generations.
      Then when the book The Help  came out I began to realize how different life may have been for women, different than I realized it was anyway. I think  that's when the realization hit me that my momma's generation was more than likely the first one to "really" raise their own children without much "help." Before that, it seems most women had help, so many of my romanticized images wouldn't have fit during those times anyway.
      But with that said, ever since I moved further into the deep south (don't get me wrong I've lived m whole life in the deep south) but ever since I've moved to south Georgia, I've begun to realize that a lot of those things I thought were "by-gones" well, aren't so much.
       For instance, women and their big floppy hats! Shortly after I moved to Moultrie, the ladies at church decided to have a tea. I was thrilled!! I was beside myself with excitement. My first tea. Then they mentioned with hats and gloves. Momma was beside herself. She didn't know such events still occurred. I had no idea where to find a ladies hat, much less gloves. So I began asking around town. What did I discover? Several stores in town still carry those down here today. This all comes back to the forefront of my memory because in a few short months, I'm going to my cousin's wedding and guess what is needed? Nope, not gloves. Thankfully not gloves, because it's going to be in Texas, in the summer!! ARGH! That would beyond hot. But hats...a big floppy decedent hat. Now, I have one, but I wanted something with pizazz and so just this last week I ordered my second lady's hat!  Yes, I had plenty of Easter bonnets as I grew up, as every good southern little girl does, but the ladies hats are something special. And I can hardly wait to wear it! What fun it will be and honestly I'm sure I'll feel just as I did at the Ladies' tea. I'll feel like I'm playing dress up, but what fun it will be to do so!
      Speaking of feeling like I'm playing dress up, when I first became a stay at home mom, I once again found myself longing for days gone by (days long before I was born) when most Mommas stayed home, dropped in on their neighbors for a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea and did what good southern ladies do. Visit! But as time has rolled on, I'm glad I live when I do. And yes, I even have a group of ladies that I visit with regularly with a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea. And many of us work really hard to keep a nice home, cook meals from scratch, and keep a watchful eye on the children all at the same time. However, just the other day I was out at the farmhouse of one of these friends for her daughter's fifth birthday party. Oh, it was grand! Let me tell you! The children were running around. Chickens were wandering the yard. Mini goats hung out close by. A full well tended garden was present as well...and the men were hanging out around the grill. Not much grilling  got done (on the grill) but the party was progressing nicely.

       Then I wandered inside and was quite surprised to see my friend in an apron as she finished readying the house and yard for the party. I'm not sure whyI was surprised. I had one growing up, at least I think I did. I know I wore many of my  Momma's that were always too large but effective nonetheless. But for some reason I'd never taken the time to get one of my own.
another thing I kind of contributed to an era gone by.
        Okay, that's not entirely true. I have a Christmas one. It's bright green with white polka dots and has red stripes around the sashes. I use it each year for Breakfast with Santa. Yes, that poor apron gets worn once a year. But there was my friend wearing an apron getting ready for the party. And it just fit! It worked great.
        Then this weekend, I was at a ladies' luncheon (catching the deep south theme here, huh? ) and several of us from the women's club had volunteered to serve the meal. Would you believe every other lady serving there had an apron? I'd not worn mine because, well y'all it's not Christmas. So I began to think, an apron makes sense. And I got another one. An everyday apron if you will. It's pink with cloth ruffles and pictures of cupcakes. And I put it on as I tidied the house and fixed supper for our evening Tuesday night picnic. And would you believe my sweet precious daughters complimented me on my apron? It made me so smile.
         You know, I may just yet be that idyllic stereotypical image of a stay at home mom, but one from an era gone by with the clean house and the nice clothes, and supper on the table when my man gets home? Okay...so maybe not. I've got way too much room to achieve that goal, but nonetheless what a smile it brings me as I think about wearing that apron now.
         I found myself smiling apron less too though, this weekend at the ladies' luncheon. One of the things we served was meringue. Several of the younger ladies serving didn't know what it was or how to make it. Man, was it good! It melted in our mouths just the way meringue is supposed to too. And as I ate that meringue topped with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and slivers of mint it made me think of my Momma (the mint especially) and my great-grandmother, Granny. Granny used to pull out her strawberry dishes ( that I now have stashed up in my attic. I may pull those out tomorrow now that I think about it.) every time we visited. She would serve us tomato aspic (which I really don't care for) and meringue which I love!!! The perfect southern ladies dishes. Talking about this makes me think of that ladies tea right after I moved here again...we had to bring a salad (gelled salad) to it. I so tried to make one with pineapple. Just so you know pineapple doesn't like to gel. But that's a story for another day.
        Well, I've definitely babbled this time, but as I've done so I've decided that perhaps the things we think exist only in eras gone by really don't. Perhaps they still occur regularly today. I do so have an itching to try my hand at making meringue now. And I just know those fresh strawberries are in season. So as I make up strawberry jam in the next week or two, with my new apron on no doubt, I'm hoping I can save some to fill up my meringue and that the humidity stays down enough for my meringue to set. Ha ha!!.
         And I feel obliged to admit that the southern traditions  I value most, along with those idiosyncrasies that I've romanticized make me realize that my life as a stay at home mom, really is a lot more like I thought it might have been in days gone by than even I'd suspect. And that pleases me immensely. Both my hat and my new apron (both pictured within this post) are proof enough of that!