Learning From My Little Sweet Potato Fanatic

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Brrr ….. it’s cold!

As soon as I woke up this morning, Ashok ran over to the bed for her morning hug and belly scratch. It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night I wake up, she’s totally excited that I’m stirring. And…. she thinks it’s time to get up and have her morning meal and walk. It breaks my heart when I have to tell her to go back to bed. The life of a single person’s dog must be incredibly boring. I often feel guilty about how much time she spends alone waiting for me. And, sadly to say, I do sometimes plan my life around her because I don’t want to leave her alone more than necessary. Today, I’ll drive out to Hammond with her in tow to go to the football game. She can’t go, but she can wait at my friend Gretchen’s house. Just letting her ride with me to and from the game is better than her waiting another 1:45 minutes home alone. It is one of the primary reasons I paid prime real estate prices for a home close to work. I can go home at lunch and let her out for a few minutes. It killed me when I was gone for such long days plus a commute at FedEx.

So, I got up rather shortly after first waking up to take her for her walk. I would have loved to stay in bed for awhile longer, but she was sitting there staring at me with her “I’m ready to go” face.

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We went downtown for a walk, and I was surprised to see that the Farmer’s Market was still open. Everywhere I’ve lived the market closes from November to about March. As much as I complain about the hot weather down here, I guess there are some advantages to long, hot summers and mild winters. I was actually able to buy some field tomatoes from the same vendor where I bought some Opelousas sweet potatoes. I told her that I’d never eaten Opelousas sweet potatoes and that I was fairly new here. However, I informed her, “My sister gets me sweet potatoes from Marksville.” She looked at me with this grimace as if Marksville sweet potatoes tasted like dog doo-doo. “Marksville?” she added, “these are much better than that.” I had to laugh. It was as if there were some sweet potatoes that were nasty and some that were amazing. I think there may be ones that taste better than others, but I’ve had very few really nasty-tasting sweet potatoes. And, I don’t think Ashok has ever found one she didn’t like. I texted my sister and told her the lady at the market said Opelousas sweet potatoes were better than Marksville’s, and she said … well ... how do I put this…. to keep a G-rating on this blog ….. she said she was ‘wrong’.  I guess down here there seems to be fierce regional competition on the orange spuds.

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I don’t really buy much meat, so I usually skip the meat vendors, but I remembered that I’m responsible for cornbread dressing for the company lunch and my family dinner. I thought I’d better get some giblets and chicken for the broth. So, I bought a fairly pricey organic chicken and a bag of hearts and livers. Turn up your nose if you will, but Momma’s cornbread dressing is unbelievable, and she uses the organ meats. Who am I to break with family tradition? I also got some fresh cornmeal since I couldn’t remember what I had at home.

When I arrived at the market, there was a pretty young woman that was selling cannolis, chocolate mousse and hot chocolate. I wanted some hot chocolate, but she said it needed some time to heat. It was homemade and being warmed in a black kettle. Every time I’d walk by, she’d tell me it’d need another 5 minutes. I finally decided to buy some on the way out even if it was lukewarm. I could heat it at home, and I wanted some homemade hot chocolate. I am not disappointed. I’m drinking it now, and it takes like liquid candy. I gave Ashok half of an Opelousas sweet potato, and she came back in the kitchen looking for more. She knew I’d bought a whole box and there were more where that came from. I gave her the other half, and she excitedly ran off with her vegetarian bone.

She’s sleeping beside me now, and I suppose she’s happier than I might think. I know several single friends who have dogs who have the same dilemma. The fact is that we need those dogs as our companions. They keep us company, and they give us something to love on and care for when it seems that no one needs us. My Medicine Cards say that dog medicine is all about loyalty. They will do whatever their master wants them to in order to try to please them. Even if they are abused, they will still remain loyal to their human companion. As a human, I doubt I could even fathom that type of loyalty. Our capability to think and reason gives us the sense to get out of the way. But, my little canine companion seems to be very happy with me. She’ll never really get socialized to other dogs because she is alone, and I worry about that, too. If I could give her the best life a dog could ever have, I would. But, this is what I have to offer, and it is limited.

I can learn a lot from her. It’s the simple things that cause her to jump in the air with all four feet off the floor in excitement. When I talk in a high, sweet animated voice ….. when I say the words ‘walk, run or ride’… when I stir in the mornings …. and when I fill her food bowl…. she responds with unbounded joy. She is most content waiting for me in the car when I’m running errands, looking out the window on a car ride and curled up beside me on my sofa. She’s extremely jealous of my cats and pushes her nose at me when I make room for them. I wish I had her level of contentment with what’s right in front of her. And she’s so smart. Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, but they keep all year long, are highly nutritious and are dirt cheap. Susan’s bringing me a box of Marksville spuds next week. I’ll see if she thinks Opelousas sweet potatoes are better than Marksville’s. My guess is she’ll love whichever one is in front of her.

So, in an attempt to let Ashok be my teacher, I’ll note the simple things that gave me joy this week. I love the little space heater I have in my bathroom. It reminds me of my first Mother-in-Law’s home in Clinton. She had the coziest bathroom heaters in her old house. I’m grateful that I have a canine companion who is so patient. I totally enjoyed lunch with an old friend on Friday. The hot chocolate I had this morning was a very special homemade treat. My cats are like little hot water bottles on a cold night. And, if I’ve never said it, I absolutely love my house. It’s not very well insulated for the cold, but it’s lovely, and it gives me a lot of comfort and joy. Oh yeah… and I am grateful for the cold. I know everybody around here is freezing to death, but I think it’s just right. Lion Up, y’all!!

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