Magee’s Southern Accent

Listen to the Mocking Bird

There is a row of old crepe myrtle trees that line the sidewalk in front of the house I grew up in. They are gigantic trees now, even towering above the house. A little tidbit of information for you here, don’t park your car under them because you’ll get what I call “creped on” and it’s hard to wash it off. You can actually feel the light drizzling off of them. (Hang on a minute, my wife wants to go get some pie at Mrs. Helen’s, who is one of the sweetest ladies I know – an adopted mom that always brings me hummus and deviled eggs, two of my favorites, to every family dinner. I believe that we would be best friends in another life if we were the same age.)

Okay, I’m back, and the pie was sweet and dandy, but what took our visit over the top was that Mrs. Helen had made some sweet green tomato pickles to try. I never knew they existed. Learned something new! Sorry, I get distracted. Food swings happen! Now, back to getting “creped” on.

Crepe myrtles can make you feel like they are raining on you if you stand underneath them. From my understanding the “rain” is most likely coming from little aphids showering their honeyed dew. That’s a more “floral” way of putting it. Well, one summer growing up I just happened to be walking underneath this same line of trees to my grandmother’s house that was just across the way and a hop over the old concrete ditch. I stopped when I felt that wonderful yellow haze lightly drizzling onto my skin. There was a sweet smell in the air from the gardenia bush wafting its redolent musky scent mixed with last night’s cookout left behinds of watermelon rinds that echoed their pungent, sweet, slightly decaying aroma. I closed my eyes to take it all in like it was a moment from the good Lord himself saying, “Consider the lilies and don’t worry about anything, Matthew.”

THE MOCKING BIRD JUST CRIES AND CRIES EVERY TIME I STICK MY HEAD OUTSIDE, WAY OVER YONDER ON THE SAD SIDE OF TOWN- T. B. LEDFORD

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this squawking, swishing, high pitched shrieking was on me. The beast dove and jabbed at me. I opened my eyes not knowing what in the world was attacking me. I began to panic and totally freaked out like I just stepped into a hornets nest. I started swinging and caterwauling like a crazy Tomcat. I didn’t know it at the time but It was two irate mocking birds swooping down on me. I ran screaming, all the way to Maw Maw Mildred’s house! When I got there Maw Maw said, “What’s the matter?” I said, “Those birds tried to get me! They hate me and I hate them!” She smiled with her loving eyes and said “Honey, they don’t hate you. They are just protecting their babies. Now come in this kitchen and have some homemade ice cream that Aunt Lavon made.”

I was upset and angry but she knew exactly how to turn my frown upside down. Ice cream would quickly dissipate any ill will towards my feathered assailants! Tragedy averted! Maw Maw Mildred’s back screen door opened right into her kitchen and as we walked in my brother Daniel Joe was there and started singing, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” The counter was lined with sweet Georgia peaches. On the stove was a pot of them simmering in browned butter, cinnamon and sugar ready to pour over our ice cream. We spent the afternoon on the back porch laughing, telling stories and eating up that ice cream.

I’ve been thinking about little peach sized slices of life like this story and wondering if there is any point to them. I like to think so. The thought that the mocking bird was only trying to protect her babies had never occurred to me and that lesson has stuck with me all my life. What I gleaned from it was don’t be so quick to judge without understanding.

Listen to people when they appear to be angry because there are always at least two sides to every story. It goes deeper than just what we see and hear. Listen to the mocking bird. In a way we are all mocking birds. We all need to be heard sometimes. We are more than likely just wanting to protect what we love. Also it’s key to have homemade ice cream with sweet Georgia peaches. I’m convinced that this combination can defuse any situation.

Now what Mrs. Helen’s green tomato pickles can do for you is a whole ‘nother situation!

 

Written by Matthew Magee  / Original Art by Dan Magee