There's a madly popular - cultish, really - show on, hmm the Discovery Channel I think, maybe Nat Geo, but no matter - name of the show's Survivor Man. Well. My brother introduced my children and my handsome husband to the show (along with another, similar one which I'll laugh with you about another time). Now the premise of the show is this. This Australian guy who used to be a, I dunno, Green Beret or Silent Operations Ninja or sunthin for the military, gets dumped from a helicopter with only a knife, a bottle of water and the clothes on his back, or suuuumthin like that (and his cameras to film the whole thing) in the middle of the wild, six days from NO-frackin-where. The object is for him to - drumroll please - SURVIVE - until he makes it back to civilization. My three (four, when brother's here) fellas could sit and watch this man eat bugs, McGyver stuff in the cruelest of natural environments, sleep under rock formations and kill wickedly weird and gross animals to cook over a fire and eat - (or just eat raw if he can't make a fire) for DAYS (because there are be still my heart Survivor Man marathons) and only get out of their chairs upon necessary callings.
Now then. At one point during a Survivor Man marathon weekend - and if it's not a true Survivor Man marathon weekend, the three/four of them are not past boasting a faux Survivor Man marathon weekend. Record back to back episodes and watch the DVD.... yep. Alright so now I decided at one point that if I was to spend any time at all with the dudes I'd have to ratchet myself right into the middle of 'em. So I took my book or my whatever I was doing and plopped myself down in the family room between a couple of them, and I might've even made some popcorn or some sammies or wraps, chips 'n dip, whatev, and brought it in so I'd be sure to be noticed upon my entrance. Otherwise, if I don't come bearing some kinda gifts I surely can't compete with an Aussie wearing all kinds of cool outfitters' clothing and shoes, who can hold a dead squirrel by the neck, give it a good fling and send all it's innards out it's ass end.
Speaking of that. It is that now innardless squirrel that makes me bring up this Survivor Man in the first of places. Be patient. There IS a point. So Survivor Man puts gutless squirrel on a stick spit and begins to roast him over a fire, and while he's doing that he's talking to us into his lil camera. Close up and personal, and he looks like who-dun-it. Course he does, bless his heart. His hair's greasy, nappy, his face is ruddy and he has bags under his eyes that even Princess Marchella Borghese concealer, good lighting and mebbe airbrushing wouldn't eliminate . He's telling us what his next move will be and why he won't drink the water in this lil pond over here, and why, in the morning he's going this direction instead of that, blah de blah blah BLAAAAHHH AHHAAAA AHHAAAAA, and suddenly, his eyes got HUGE, his head WHIPS around - those two things that happen instanTANeously when you remember something y'know?, and he says "WUUUP! M' SQUIRREL'S BURNIN!" and for suuuuuum reason, I dun know why, but I just LOST IT. It. was. just. the funniest thing I had heard come from a human's lips. That's all. And all four of the guys looked at me like I was dissin' a holy man or sumthin'. . . . . . and then slowly . . . . . one by one. . . . . . they started chuckling too, and in a minute. . . . . all of us were guffawing. Chortling. Shoulder-shakin'-tears-running-down-your-face laughing.
So ever since that night it is a family phrase. WUUUP! M' SQUIRREL'S BURNIN'! Can be used for a multitude of things, but it has a certain meaning. Just like any family phrase.
Wellllll, we went camping for several days last week, returned yesterday. It was a lovely trip . . . camping always is with handsome husband. It's second nature for him. He and I have been camping together for over twenty five years. My brother and his wife joined us after we'd been at the campsite for a day. It rained, ohhhhh it rained, and you can say oh it's just so great to be out here in nature it just doesn't maaaaaaadderrr and we had a tent city (that's another family phrase) set up, tarps over the campsite so we were dry, played games, cards, etc., but it's still miserable I mean come on. But after almost a full day and a half of solid rain, it stopped. Stopped. Sun came out, weather was beautiful. For another full day. Guys trout fished, we hiked, walked, enjoyed nature, sat around the fire, did all the stuff you do. Enjoyed each other instead of electronic things, interruptions..... But there'll be no pictures, cuzzzz I look worse when I camp than Survivor Man looks.
My guys were in their glory. They were in their element. They were in their "kitchen". Their "decorated house". Their "garden". YOU know the place. You know that place where you know where everything is, and you know how everything works, and you're comfortable with everything around you, and you enJOY everything that you can see, everything within your visual scope, love how it looks, how it's situated. They belonged. It belonged to them.
And I got a glimpse, or I had a sudden epiphany, understanding - ohhhhh ohhhhhkaaaayah maybe a reminder is a more accurate term, if I'm to be honest, darn it - why it's the other way around at home. I'm resisting the urge here to say they don't have to clean the tree if somebody pees all over it instead of just at the base. Pretend you din't read it.
Anyhow, I thought back to Survivor Man and the look of sheer joy on his ruddy, dirty, puffy face when he, in surprised shock yelled, "WUUUP! M' SQUIRREL'S BURNIN!" Now where would you EVER get a chance to say something like that, as my brother says..... but say it he did, and with sheer joy on his puffy lil red face even though his only dinner was charred beyond rodent recognition, and he ate it too, humming happily. He was in his element.
Now as much as I adore camping, the outdoors, nature, and this particular trip as a matter of fact, still I'm not able to place four days of primitive camping with no bath in the category of my element. On the way home from camping however, we stopped at
The Tomato House
I stood right in front of those baskets of potatoes and walked slowly down the aisle to the end where the cider and molasses are lined up like soldiers, turned on my heel and did it again, up and down that aisle. It's better than yoga, better than breathin' into a bag, better than classical music and a cup of tea.
On the left wall past that column on the top shelf, almost to the end, is Paula Deen's new line of marinades:
They were so proud to have them, too....one of the first, they said. You won't see 'em nowhurs ayulse. We's one a th' furstuns. Yew better grayub a cuuple, thayza flyin awfan the shevvs.
And they were, too.
You know they sell a lot of boiled peanuts when this much space and organization is dedicated to the effort. Can't recall at the moment how many pounds or gallons or whatever the measurement would be they sell per day, but it made handsome husband's jaw drop. Not much does that.
Out the back door of The Tomato House. Just makes me smile, even looking at the picture. It's sweet, the setting, the location, the place, the people. Feels good. And here's the thing. They didn't try, it's not DONE. It's not set up, there aren't vignettes (I'm beginning to not like that word). These folks are folks, the old faded country chairs that are full of pumpkins and scarecrows and aluminum pans and mums are that way because well they're that way, they're short on space so someone shoved stuff in there and maybe they have an eye for how to shove stuff in, but that's about the extent of it. It's rural Georgia. The extent of how "fixed" they get is they front the shelves and keep stacks neat and straight, and check inventory often cauz the place was jam packed. It's the old timey farm/country ethic. It allows me to breathe big, deep breaths from waaaaaay down.
Now you know the boys couldn't hack being there for long, so we took them to
The Fish Hatchery
They were thrilled. This place is an incredible resource, and there are childrens' ponds for fishing, all kinds of educational material for parents to teach their kids all about Georgia and our natural resources. Do you see a single soul there besides us? Nnnnnnnewp.
My favorite stop on the way home. Just look at this place. No words needed.
Upon our return home we were all fulfilled, mostly with having spent time with each other but also satisfied by filling whatever needed filled with nature and natural things, country and the countryside. Most satisfying to me was that of all the places we visited, we only brought home memories, we didn't purchase anything with the exception of a couple of teacher gifts the boys picked out - from The Tomato House. ;- )