Friday, March 09, 2007
Well the bread baking is on hold due to my unpredictable work schedule, yet somehow I have found time to do other baking and to read Losing Battles, a novel by Eudora Welty. The story revolves around the annual reunion of the extended family of a young man named Jack, who manages to leave prison in time to attend and finally clap eyes on the daughter he's never seen. His wife was his former (very young) teacher, and her status as an orphan figures into the story as a mystery threaded through the memories and stories of several reunion attendees. Even the judge who sent Jack to prison ends up coming. Conversation centers on a woman who taught several generations of area children, raised Jack's wife, and dies after sending the judge (another one of her former students) letters stuffed into old light bill envelopes. The reunion is a potluck, and everyone is proud of their contributions which include chicken pie, watermelons, and pickled peaches. Fried chicken is the centerpiece and a huge vat of homemade lemonade is placed near a precious ice block next to the head of one table. These people are dirt poor, and they've struggled more lately due to a drought and without their hardworking Jack to get crops to grow in the dry earth. It seems a miracle that there is food at all. The grandmother is my favorite character. It is also her birthday, and she points her finger and tells everyone "the way it is" at each turning point in the story. A funny conflict that recurs is the rivalry between the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churchgoers. And how two rival counties refuse to repair a hazardous bridge that joins them.