Lett's Set A Spell

Mama and Daddy expressed joys of lovin’ labor
Aug. 24, 2014 @ 06:00 PM

Growing up on the Lett family farm, I learned from Mama and Daddy (Ruby and Bud Lett) that work was considered a top priority through the generations. I was prone to day-dreaming, so I resisted the daily chores and hard labor required to raise animals, grow produce and harvest crops. 

While I took breaks during tasks like puttin’ in tobacco, pulling weeds, pickin’ peas or gathering corn, I learned to banter with the folks who taunted me about being lazy. As a teenager, I’d quip: “I ain’t lazy ... I just ain’t found a suitable occupation yet.”

When enticed with the idea that if we could get the tobacco out of the field and in the barn by noon, we could gorge on a big meal, take a nap and watch “The Guiding Light,” I would work my fingers to the bone. Musings of such rewards inspired me to help accomplish the family’s morning goals on the farm.  

AS THE SUMMER HEAT lost its fire in late afternoon, Mama, Daddy and we “young’uns” headed for the garden or fields to continue our chores. Before dark sometimes, we took cured tobacco leaves out of the barn and put them in the pack house for later grading, tying and preparing for market.

Daddy especially enjoyed raising tobacco, nurturing it from the seeds he placed in the plant bed in January to the cured leaves he took to market in late summer and early fall. When Daddy dug his fingers deep into the soil, he seemed to gather energy and power from Mother Earth. Like a prince on the palace grounds, Daddy admired the fields plush with rows of green. Daddy’s love of the land nourished his soul. On the Lett farm, Bud Lett found his kingdom. 

The fruits of Daddy’s labor provided blessings for many people. His watermelon crop was a spiritual ministry ... nothing delighted him more than filling my car with red and yellow varieties for me to distribute to friends. Fans came yearly for the free gifts from the garden. Every recipient agreed that his melons tasted better than others because he had imparted love in every one.

THROUGH THE YEARS Daddy planted apple, peach, pear and pecan trees and blueberry bushes so he could relish their development and yield and have more treasures to share with others. He found pleasure in growing vegetables and fruits, treating each bean from the garden, fruit from a tree, or berry from a bush like a gem from a mine. 

Meanwhile, Mama perfected her culinary concoctions by standing over a hot stove daily so that Daddy, family and friends could relish the many delicious delights from her kitchen. Just as the tobacco crop peaked so did the garden, and the whole family pitched in to pick tomatoes, shell peas, snap beans, shuck corn and help Mama with canning and freezing fruits and vegetables.

When Mama cooked in the kitchen, she reigned like a queen of dining. In what everyone called Ruby’s Restaurant, she was the chef, the hostess and the waitress. She excitedly fed her guests joy and contentment as well as favorite foods. Mama did not accept tips, but was rewarded by the prevalent gathering of happy folks praising her cookin’ at her eating table. 

Mama’s food fixin’s and Daddy’s garden pickin’s were always greeted with appreciation and praise because they featured a flavor and an aroma that went beyond all expectations. Through their love of labor, Mama and Daddy experienced life’s most powerful secret. I feel fortunate from being around them, each working to his or her heart’s content.

AFTER EXPERIMENTING with various forms of self-expression and finally finding my niche as a freelance writer and inspirational speaker, I discovered that expressing oneself is a holy activity. Eventually I realized that creativity does not require glamorous settings or demand big bucks to thrive. I came to believe that I had something special to say to readers and audiences.

Recently I have been speaking to audiences about pursuing their passion and being willing to take risks to follow their bliss and find their purpose in life. People who honor the yearnings of their heart usually consider their work as their play and become successful.

To enjoy our tasks is a present we give ourselves. To appreciate our work is a gift to others and to God. To love labor is life’s greatest blessing.  

AlexSandra Lett is the author of “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store,” “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart,” “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures,” “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections on Work, Family, Health, and Spirit” and “Natural Living: From Stress to Rest.” Lett can be contacted at LettsSetaSpell@aol.com and (919) 258-9299.