Every morning and afternoon my granddaddy circled the tree, toeing fallen hulls and jabbing the ground with his orange picker-upper, then emptied the wire basket into the 5-gallon paint bucket on the back patio. In the old days, he cracked and shelled them himself while he sat at the small table in the kitchen and watched his programs, Matlock, The Young and The Restless. Those last few years, in his 80s, he drove the buckets to Starkville and returned with shelled pecans in brown paper sacks.
My grandmother had started it, but after she died, he kept it going: for every holiday, every potluck, and every wake, he rose from his ragged chair,
set the oven to 350,
chopped 2 cup of pecans,
beat six eggs,
measured out 1 cup of refined sugar,
poured 2 cups of Dark Karo corn syrup,
spilled a drop or two from ½ teaspoon of imitation vanilla, and
melted ½-cup of margarine in the microwave,
then mixed it all together and
poured it into two store-bought pie shells.
The next hour’s crescendo of warmth filled his wood-paneled living room with the rich smell of toasted pecans and browning pie crusts. And every pecan that went into those pies fell from the old tree that he watched through the sliding-glass patio door as he sat in his ragged chair fixing to make his phone calls to the sick and suffering of his church, every one of whom would receive a pie.
Adam Young grew up in Oklahoma and Mississippi, studied at Ole Miss, and lives in Georgia with his wife and their three kids (Ellie-Fish, a 2nd grader, and fraternal two-year-olds, Ulfbehrt and Baby-Girl, aka AK-47). He plays guitar, screen-prints his own T-shirts, likes to drive at night with the windows down, eats too much pizza, enjoys porches and cool breezes, and doesn’t smoke a pipe, have a tattoo, or own a motorcycle, yet. But he does occasionally wear his grandfather’s gray fedora, which was manufactured by a company called Adam.