Writer’s Corner

Writer’s Corner
August 28
00:00 2015


By Nancy M. Hall

Sometime before I am fully awake, I am conscious of sounds of activity outside.

The mules are pulling the slides along the sandy roads.

The men are in the field, priming tobacco.

Their bodies somewhat protected by burlap sacks from the morning dew.

Down under the shed at the barn, the women and children

Still somewhat sleep-eyed, await the coming of the slide full of yellowish green leaves.

I have my breakfast and quickly slip away to where they are stringing green leaves.

Another “hand” is always welcome.

We talk at random.

Long before the noon hour approaches and a hasty meal can be prepared,

A child goes to a brown paper bag and picks out a ripe,
red tomato and a piece of bread.

Salt is tied up in a little piece of bag.

Again and again the leaves are piled high on the table.

Fingers must be nimble and deft to bundle and hand to
the stringer.

Everyone concentrates on the job at hand,

Intent on catching up with the primers.

Only the twist of twine around the tobacco stems breaks the silence.

At the noon hour, a stringer stretches and goes to pick up some sand

To try to loosen the wax.

A little boy chases his sister

With a huge, green-horned worm

Before his mother makes him snap the head and
throw it away.

Back at the barn

The long afternoon wears on.

And soon, following the last slide,

Come the men, toting watermelons on their shoulders.

After the tables are cleared

The melons are cut and eaten with delight.

Melon juice trickles over the thickly waxed hand.

Unable to make a dent in that fast, dark coat,

Old Dutch cleanser will have to tangle with it.

The sticks of tobacco must now be hoisted in the barn.

Women leave to prepare supper and

Children are ordered to bring water and wood for the stove

There is nothing more for me to do.

I, too, depart.

At my house now

I sit on the porch and listen to the sound of crickets

And watch for the lightening bugs.

It is night and the air is pungent with the aroma of curing tobacco.

Inside the barn, the women have put clean, white sacks of

dried apples and half-gallon jars of tomatoes to bake.

A cowbell tinkles in the distance as she licks out at a fly on her back.

After supper several men gather at the barn.

Some bring an old quilt or a straw filled mattress.

There may be checkers and whittling to help pass the time

As they watch the fires and gauge the heat.

Occasionally I hear guffaws and my curiosity is aroused

At what jokes may be swapped.

The stillness of the night is broken by the creaking of the chains at the well

Where somebody is drawing a fresh bucket of water.

The hour is not late. Yet weariness has begun to take its toll.

My brother is already nodding.

We are reluctant to leave the cool breeze

And hope that our bedrooms will be comfortable.

Tonight I am tired like everyone else in my family.

And it feels good.

Nancy Hall is the founder of Second Spring Arts, Inc. For more information, go to

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