Monday, March 12, 2012

Fudge-Pecan Pie

I have lived in Chicago for almost a decade. By now I consider myself a city girl. But there are days when I want to sit down to a plate full of blue gill and hear the words "Hi baby doll." from a server I just met.

When I was young, I couldn't wait to leave my hometown of just over ten thousand. But there are small things that draw me back. Things like pecans harvested from a neighbor's tree that I like to stir into Fudge-Pecan Pie.

So I travel south, 350 miles south. I pass acre after acre of soy and corn. I stare at a landscape that is numbingly flat.

During the final hours of my trip, I wait for the scalloped wings of hawks to appear in the sky, like finely crafted kites. I read billboards that tempt drivers with fast food, but there are others that offer a proper southern meal. Their lineup, - chicken, corn bread, cobbler - is more inviting. I stop for a glass of ice tea and a zing of caffeine to push through the last of my six hour journey south.

Soon I see the greenish water of the Big Muddy River which still inspires stories (and sightings) of the Big Muddy Monster. The terrain is voluptuous down here and I'm privy to that well kept secret. I know if I drive further up the road the land will rise and dip. Houses will give way to apple trees and peach orchards and other fruit that's fit for pie.