Friday, December 18, 2015
Peppermint candy; the sword in the stone that grows through our family.
They're affiliated with my particular and ungainly past, with aunts and aprons and mouths that needed wiping, and half remembered ice cream spooned melting onto my wedged birthday cake.
How well I remember standing on dusty tip toes stretching to reach for the Depression era glass candy dish where he stored peppermint stick candy. I would wait expectantly for my offerings. Grandpa probably never gave me more than an inch of it at any time, but it was the best treat imaginable. Not memories or dreams but real pieces of my past. He married Nollie Bell in the summer of 1908 and possessed little besides the land on which they lived for 63 years. The Long Cove Baptist Church was the center of their lives with Bible reading and prayer at the breakfast table where appearance was mandatory.
I hunted for adventures in Grandpa's engine room; smelling of well oiled machine parts staring round eyed into the toothy maw of left behind animal traps then back out side to select s shiny wrinkled up leaf we called tickle tongue because though I never laughed right out loud it did tickle my tongue when I munched on it and did indeed remind me a little of that prized peppermint candy.
Quick stepping and barefooted so the hot dirt wouldn't blister my feet down to the mailbox was a privilege that was fought over because the reward was a stick of peppermint and maybe a saltine or two. He kept a bag in the corner closet of the kitchen, which still smelled of peppermint when the house sold many years after he went to his heavenly reward. (Enoch's mind was clear though he had less desire to leave this earth and his wife, but he never had any anxiety over the certainty of a better life ahead.)
One night after chasing fireflies and cousins I sat in there in an agreeable slouch, inhaled the smells till it melted down the back of my throat in thick syrupy delight trying with all my might to save a moment so strong it took my breath away only to be scared away by spooky popping sounds of the summer sun setting as the house contracted. Ears plugged with fingers, I fled the consecrated rapture of red twist tied bags echoed twisted and round candy sitting mint and brand spanking new--peppermint why the very word showed it's rapid fire camphouros whorls white on red or was it red on white lozenge to be broken and eaten carminative red memories and peppermint perfumed smiles. An herb yanked from the earth to yank me back into the earth.
When he passed away there was a family lottery for that candy dish and Dad won. It was an outside confirmation to be seen and touched to be read aloud in the present as if Grandpa is a book in my hand, how else can I become real? The peppermint stick is my sword in the stone growing straight down through my family. The candy dish is a friend that sits in silence entrusting its stories to me from the perpetual frozen era of my childhood.