Monday, July 4, 2011

Oranges and Okra

Parallel to our table was a party of four, the three women clearly related. Linked by their full moon faces, clear blue eyes and flawless skin. One man, the husband and father, rounded out the seating.

The adults were served first. As they began eating they also began blending into the background. The smallest family member took center stage without much to-do or fanfare.

This miniature doll was dressed in a very simple black and white flower print sundress. Her sun streaked hair was accessorized by an enormous black bow. Her bright white sandals made the outfit complete. If any amount of color happened to be lacking from her ensemble it emanated from her personality.

Trying not to be obvious, I was more than amused when the waitress delivered this little girl’s order. She was served a heaping bowl of perfectly cut orange slices. The fruit was so bright, it looked liked the sun had been quartered and delivered to her table. Her eyes were bright with excitement. She clearly believed she had won the dinner time prize.

The fragrant smell of the oranges momentarily transported me back into the safe haven of my grandmother’s kitchen, the sweet, sticky orange juice running down my chin. Emotion welled up in me. The child in me wanted to share her bowl of Florida’s delight and forget the adult portion roast beef dinner now placed before me.

Before the heaping mound of oranges could be polished off, the waitress appeared with her second course. Of all the vegetables available, this little “Southern Belle” had opted for a kid size portion of deep fried okra. (Again, a food related to memories of Sunday dinners with my grandmother). Her waitress turned and winked at us, also amused. We were probably both wondering how this eclectic mix would fit into the context of the food pyramid.

I left the restaurant pondering all that I had observed. Wondering why I had been so caught up in a stranger’s meal. I understand that much wisdom is to be gleaned from our small teachers. If we observe closely, they will teach us how to take the practical and turn it upside down. They will remind us to experience joy in the simplest pleasures of life, even in a bowl of oranges and okra.

After all, isn’t that the way life should be? We definitely should have our fruit first.

      t-t-f-n  (ta- ta- for-now)

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