Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Grass Soup

Judith Anderson


They sit, dark plaits close beside straight brown hair, both heads bending attentively over an imaginary cauldron.

I, with the temerity of superior size and advanced age, trespass into the “kitchen” and begin my interrogation.

“What are you doing?”

Plaits answers, turning glowing brown eyes up to mine. She is polite, as her mother expects her to be. “Cooking.”

“Oh.” Silence. Plaits turns back to her work, adding more green stalks, torn into uniform sizes, to the mix.

“What are you cooking?”

Brown hair answers this time, glancing up. Her quick assessment lets me know what she thinks of those who invade a kitchen, disrupt the chefs, and then ask—good grief, actually ask!—for the recipe. Still, I tower over them as they kneel, intent on their work. “Grass Soup,” she says gravely.

Small brown finger and small pink finger reach out gingerly to stir the ingredients in their cauldron. They do not ignore me. They forget I am here.

Small brown finger crooks her finger, dips it onto the boiling cauldron, then moves it carefully into her mouth. Her face becomes a study in concentration. “I think…yes, I do believe,” she said slowly, “that something is missing.”

Small pink finger crooks, then raises to her mouth. She smacks her lips softly, contemplating. “Yes,” she agrees. “Perhaps a little more of that grass?” She points at a fresh green clump with slightly broader leaves than the ones already mixed in their pot. Then she flips onto her knees as only six-year-old girls can, and crawls to the grass. Carefully she selects six tender green shoots. As she crawls back, avoiding the pottage, and resumes her seat on bent knees, and slowly, carefully, adds the six green leaves, brown finger reaches out to turn the heat under the cauldron down.

Once again brown finger and pink finger crook into the simmering pot. Pink finger smacks her lips. “Still something missing!”

“Yes,” brown finger says, staring at the finger she has just licked clean. Suddenly she leans forward, reaches out and plucks a yellow dandelion from their store of ingredients growing in the lawn.

“Do you think…?” pink finger asks.

“I do,” brown finger replies, inspecting the dandelion to be sure it is unblemished. Then she shreds the flower into individual petals and adds it to the green grass soup. She stirs the mixture carefully with her finger. Both girls dip their fingers into the cauldron and taste the result critically.

“I think…” says pink finger judiciously, “yes, I think…” She leans slightly to her left, picks up a leaf of dried yellow grass and holds it up for brown finger’s consideration. The girls nod their heads in unison, and carefully drop the single yellow blade into the mix and stir carefully.

Once again brown finger and pink finger curl into the cauldron and lift to rosebud lips. Once again pink tongues flick forward to lick fingers clean. Both heads bob, and, in unison, both reach behind their backs, untie imaginary aprons and retrieve imaginary bowls in which to serve their imaginary meal.

And I retreat quietly rejoicing that I am less real, less relevant to them than grass soup.

***

Judith Anderson lives on 20 acres at the end of a dead end road in St. Clair County. She recently obtained her first Confederate Rose plant and points with pride when it blooms, but as much as she loves flowers, she is more famous as a "seed undertaker" than gardener. She is more successful as a grandmother and wife and mother, and to fill out her life, she works with her husband in a nonprofit organization.

© Judith Anderson

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012