Thursday, May 24, 2012

Satsumas, rock-a-chaws and picnics at the cemetery

Just a normal every day trek to the cemetery in South Mississippi. 

Hey, let's grab a bag of satsumas and head on down to the graveyard.

This is a normal everyday saying down here in the south. I don't know why we grab a bag of satsumas to eat while we are walking around the stones. I guess because they are so plentiful and they are usually sold on the back roads that you travel to get to those old cemeteries.

My sister moved up north to Connecticut and her friends said, "What the heck is a satsuma??" I was shocked that no one else knew what a satsuma was, and so was my sister. Trying to explain a satsuma to a person is not easy! It is not an orange, it is not quite like a tangerine, it's a well, it's just a satsuma!

I love nothing more than going to the cemetery on a bright sunny day, toting my bag of satsumas and bringing along a broom for cleaning the sand off the graves. Dragging along a chair to place in the shade of an old spindly oak for one of the old folks that always tag along to supervise.

In the fall we will all be out getting the cemeteries all cleaned up and having a grand impromptu family reunion. I guess this is why many families have picnics right there at the cemetery. After all we are all there to pay our respects and tidy up the graves for All Saint's Day, so we might as well eat! This is an all day event because by the time you get through seeing cousins and other folks that you haven't seen since last year, you still have got to work to clean up all those graves. Sometimes hopping from one cemetery to the next.

Of course, I always forget to wear proper shoes! It is so hot and most of the cemeteries are full of sand, so I usually wear my sandals. Not a fantastic idea when there are rockachaws lurking about. Before I know it I will have one stuck in my foot and will be hopping about hollering for someone to please pull the little sucker out!

Wait a minute... I know you are saying what the heck is a rockachaw???  Rock-a-Chaw was the name the Choctaw Indians gave to a native plant. It means the devil grass. Most people would probably call it a sandbur. To natives of the Gulf Region it is a rockachaw and they sting like the devil when they are pulled out. St. Stanislaus school even named their football team after it.

Now of course I will regret not wearing tennis shoes, and my husband will point this fact out to me as I limp around the rest of the day trying to avoid more rockachaws. Some will hitchhike their way home with me on my clothing and days later I will be once again pricked by the little devils!

Of course when my husband is busy cutting the grass, or acid washing the stones, I will sneak off with camera in hand to go finish trying to get my photos for transcribing the cemetery. However, I will soon hear my named yelled across the cemetery, to get back to business, but that won't keep me from trying again later.

The lonely graves that seem so abandoned always call out to me, and I con my husband into cleaning these graves too, by telling him they are related to him somehow. "So, this is your great uncle so and so, poor thing didn't have any kids, we need to clean this one too. It's a shame." Then along comes some of those cousins, and of course my husband says, "Hey did you know this is great uncle so and so?" OOOPS! Now I have to fess up.

But, I think he was on to me the whole time!

I love going to the cemetery, on any given day. All you have to do is say let's go, and I'm there!!

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