In 1973, the year my little sister was born, country legend Tom T. Hall released a song entitled simply, “I Love.” As you can imagine, this was a sweet song, and if you haven’t heard it, I encourage you to find it and give it a listen.
Mr. Hall sings,
"I love little baby ducks, old pickup trucks
The reason I know this song at all is that mama would sing it to Sherrin and me when we were little girls. I didn’t know who Tom T. Hall was; I was busy listening to Kermit the Frog sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” on repeat on my record player. But mama had heard it, I suppose on the radio, and it must have made her happy. She would often sing it to us at home, or in the car, or wherever we were when we needed comforting, or to finally go to sleep. We’d tease mom about her not-so-on-pitch voice in our teenage years, but as tiny girls, the sound of mom singing us to sleep was pure comfort and love.
Years sped by, as years do, and I went away to college in Pensacola. I got married a few years later, and then had three little boys. We moved to Texas one year for my husband’s job, and soon after we settled into our new home, mom and Sherrin drove from Florida to see us. The boys were 2, 3 and 5. I remember mom holding them at different times while she was there, rocking in the chair in my kitchen, and I can only imagine that she might’ve sung a few lines of that special song to them then, too.
Some years later, when mama was already gone and the boys were in high school, our washing machine stopped working, right in the middle of my tackling the mountain of laundry a family of five creates. Frustrated, I loaded the laundry basket, detergent and laptop into my SUV and headed to the nearest laundromat, six miles away. I dropped quarters into the largest machine (to get it done as quickly as possible) and sat down at a table. I opened my computer and began to scroll through the dozens of work emails I’d already received since I had left home, and half-listened to the country classics radio music that was piped into the laundromat from somewhere in the building.
A few minutes passed, and after a few familiar tunes by artists like Dolly, Waylon, and Willie, Mr. Tom T. Hall began singing over the loudspeakers in his low, gentle, storyteller’s voice. My ears perked up immediately as they recognized the song I hadn’t heard for years, and in the midst of my frustration over the broken washer on a busy night when I had more pressing things to do than sit in a laundromat, I felt my mom’s presence as he sang the words that swept me right back to mama’s lap in childhood. “I love little baby ducks, old pickup trucks….”
Those words had brought me so much comfort when she’d sung them to me years before, and right there in that laundromat, they did it once again. My eyes welled up with tears. Crying in a laundromat on a Friday night…maybe I should write a country song, myself. I think she’d have liked that.
I love you, too, mama.
Mother’s Day Recipes
Well, here we are again, headed into another lovely Mother’s Day weekend, possibly unsure what to get or do for the mom you love. Get her something pretty, not a vacuum cleaner unless she has specifically requested one, and make her something to eat with your own two hands. Burnt toast is sweet when it’s made by a 4 year old, but if you’re a bit older, here are some things you can try. Something made by your own hands always says to a mom, “I love you, too!"
First, my creamy strawberry pie, made with fresh berries, cream cheese and a graham cracker crust. It’s easy to make, but no one has to know it!
No-bake creamy strawberry pie
12 ounces heavy whipping cream, whipped in a bowl
12 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar (2/3 cup if berries aren't very sweet)
2 1/2 cups strawberries, stems and hulls removed, washed
1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust
1. Combine the whipped cream and room-temperature cream cheese together in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring or mixing until completely combined with no lumps of cream cheese visible.
2. Puree two cups of the berries in a blender or food processor. Fold them into the whipped cream mixture.
3. Pour the mixture into the crust. Slice the remaining berries, then arrange on top of the pie however you’d like. Cover with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for an hour or so.
Note: If it freezes for longer than an hour, you may have to allow some thawing time before slicing. You want to slice when firm but not rock hard.
Next, I love this flavor-filled, fresh and cool fruit salad, which is perfect for brunch. To make this fruit salad with the flavor of a mojito, I've used lime juice and rum extract to dress the fruit, and it is excellent!
Mojito fruit salad
5-6 cups of your favorite fruits (I used watermelon cubes, blueberries, sliced strawberries, pineapple chunks and sliced grapes)
Toss together in large salad bowl
For the dressing:
Combine juice of two limes with 1/4 teaspoon rum extract in a small bowl, then add 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint leaves. Pour over fruit.
Toss again, chill, then serve in pretty bowls. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired.
Note: Rum extract is sold on the spice aisle, next to the vanilla extract.
Enjoy, and have the happiest of Mother’s Days!
Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph." She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.
She is married and has three young adult sons who surprise her somehow every Mother’s Day. You can find more of her recipes at whatsouthernfolkseat.com.