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A Real Lemon


Normally I work at home in what could best be described as pseudo-jammies – clothes you shouldn’t be caught dead in outside your door but still are when you need to make an appearance at the woodshed or the garden or the country store for a gallon of milk.   Once in a while, however, I scrape the barnacles off and work in town at the cafe on the other side of the mountain.

I’ve become a confirmed hick, so a trip to a town with more than 1000 people is like going to the big city, and the cafe doesn’t disappoint, serving a very sophisticated salad. Last week it came with slices of lemon and, knowing there’s never enough dressing on my salad, I decided to dilute it.

As I squeezed the first quarter of sun-yellow fruit I suddenly forgot all my to-dos as I suddenly thought of my mother.

Mom puts lemon on everything. EVERYTHING.  Except for possibly chocolate and ice cream, and I’m not 100% sure about the ice cream.  It’s kind of a southern tradition.

She’s not from the south, but her mom was, and she lemon-ized everything.

The juice rained down, and I wasn’t thinking about all the things mom and Grandma lemonized.  Instead my mind was suddenly filled with their stories of growing up in an era and social circle where girls went to finishing school, and then (my mom literally was told this when she graduated), they were ‘finished’.  Ready to get married.

But neither of them was finished.

They both took control of their educations and went out and did things.  Grandma worked for other women to have choices.  Mom taught.  Mom still teaches.  They mommed.  And then they Grandma-ed and they looked good doing it (I still can’t figure out how they got everything without the occaisional visit to the local store wearing pseudo-jammies).

I had drained every drop from the first slice and a quick bite of salad revealed a new meal infused with flavor. I couldn’t help but notice the irony that something so beautiful and small could have such consequence.

It’s a lot like my mom and grandmother in that way, and even though no green leaf was un-flavored, I picked up the other slice.   I was in the mood to feel a little stronger.