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The Freckled Hands
Ronda Rich
She just came to mind, tripping through the years that lay between now and the time we buried her so long ago. Hers was a humble life spent in a mountain house that leaned, literally, toward ramshackle with a tin roof that was sturdy but rusting. In their earlier years together, it had been simpler but they had tacked on a bathroom, putting outhouse days behind them, and the modest kitchen was on the front of the house framed by a porch that was welcoming yet heaving with the exhaustion of its years. At the kitchen table covered by an oil cloth, there was always food. A cake or pie set, waiting for drop by company, and on Sundays the table was laden with a bounty of food, fresh in the summer from the backyard garden. Fifteen or 20 people would drift in and out of her kitchen on Sundays. The ones who arrived early would dip up a plate of hot food. Those who straggled in later would take the cloth off the food, still arrayed on the handmade table, and help themselves. The food set on that table from the time she cooked until she had put on her nightgown, ran a brush through her hair, and shuffled into the kitchen to put it up.