Written by Debbie Sloan
Edited by Mandi Pitt-Reed
We have been enjoying endless summer here in the Memphis area. Today, however, the tide has turned with the wind gently blowing and temperatures in the mid-50s. When I walked outside this morning, I came across an enormous maple leaf. It isn’t one from our trees, so it likely traveled quite the distance to arrive at my back door. When I reached down to pick it up, I was immediately reminded of a day years ago in early autumn when I arrived at my parents’ house to find Papa Tom hitting the limbs of the two large pin oak trees with a long leather belt. He was really going at it and the few remaining leaves complied by drifting slowly to the ground. On closer inspection of the situation, I saw Mom with rake in hand, impatient as always to be done with yard work, standing idly by stabbing at the few leaves that had escaped capture the day before.
Papa Tom wasn’t a blood relative, but that didn’t matter because I thought just as much of him as I did blood grandparents. He was an older gentleman who lived next door to us with his daughter Lois, her husband, Grover, and son Glenn. Papa Tom was tall and strong and had a gentle demeanor befitting of his professional career at the local funeral home. I never once saw him in any mood other than pleasant with a side of cheery. He was a real ladies’ man and the town’s ladies reciprocated by continually bringing him casseroles, cookies, pies, and cakes. How he avoided being snagged by one them for marriage is and always will remain a mystery. He was also very much a family man who never forgot to bring me a silver dollar on my birthdays. He was a universal pleaser. He would do almost anything to help a neighbor, as was evident by his belt swinging. If there was one thing Mom hated more than strawberries, it was leaves.
Papa Tom loved dogwood trees and, years earlier, had gone to the woods and dug up two saplings to plant in our front yard. I remember Mom hoping the little sprigs wouldn’t make it, but they did. They grew into beautiful beacons of spring by displaying white blooms on one and pink on the other. Soon after Papa Tom passed away, she had all four trees cut down and even convinced Lois to cut down the trees in her yard too. It was odd that all the trees were gone from both lawns. I am sure Mom thought that removing the trees would end her leaf removal misery. However, Mom was not done with leaf removal. Like the leaf I found outside our door today, leaves still blew into the carport from the woods across the way and piled up next to the back door. She didn’t have to rake them, but she complained daily about having to sweep them away to keep them from being tracked inside the house. I too went out this morning to survey the leaves on the patio because our son Jordan, his lovely wife Mandi, and their dog Fred are visiting this weekend. Leaf removal is paramount to a tidy and inviting patio, which is especially important when the family is home.
When my children are home, I always like to have treats around that we always had on hand while they were growing up. One of those snacks is a universal pleaser known as Peanut Butter Crisped Rice Treats. There is certainly nothing wrong with the crisped rice marshmallow treats but, if you try these, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how tasty they are! Here is the recipe:
Peanut Butter Crisped Rice Treats
1 cup of light corn syrup
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup of peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 cup of roasted nuts (I used cashews here but, I usually use peanuts.)
6 cups crisped rice cereal
Peanut Butter Crisped Rice Treats are not only addictive~they are universal pleasers!
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