Summer Issue 2022
By Delainey Bowers
I would like to extend a formal apology to Linda Buxley*. In June of 1999, I made a grievous error that may very well have ruined the reputation of a devout Christian woman. At the very least, the mistake has burrowed its way into the deepest recesses of my psyche, only to reemerge every few months as my brain is on the cusp of sleep.
First Baptist Church of Beech Grove saw cause for celebration at every turn. Missionaries, traveling gospel groups, and visiting pastors were always welcomed with open arms and a massive, and I mean “sometimes wildly incomprehensible,” spread of homemade food. We called them “pitch-ins,” but regional vernacular makes room for potlucks, dinner-on-the-grounds, Jacob’s Join, or covered-dish-suppers. On a good Sunday, when church members were at the height of their gourmand game, the foyer and fellowship hall were flanked with rectangular folding tables that nearly buckled under the weight of hot casseroles and fried chicken.
It was at one of these gatherings, dear reader, where our story takes place. My plate had been scraped clean, but my desire for something sweet was strong. The desserts table was a sacred space in its own right, beckoning nearly-stuffed saints to heed its tempting song. Cobblers and cookies, cakes and crumbles, but the only thing that mattered were the thick chocolatey brownies smeared with even thicker peanut butter icing. I grabbed a middle piece, took a bite, and immediately spit it out.
“There’s a fingernail in my brownie,” I wailed, plucking a thin, white, delicate strand from my lips. Using my grubby little fingers, I rooted around in the rest of the piece, convinced someone had clipped their nails directly into the batter.
“And here’s another one!” Fingernails. So many fingernails in such a small square. My commotion was causing a scene. Murmurs and side-glances began to ripple through the crowd. I was choking on remnants of someone’s body, but transubstantiation this was not. By this time, poor Linda Buxley had rushed over to help. They were her brownies. Her nails.
“It’s only flaked coconut!” she cried. Her eyes were wide, and her smile was tight. In hindsight, the look she gave was heartbreaking – an exhortation to right what had been wronged. There were no fingernails! It was just a sliver of coconut! Please! Only coconut! But the damage was done. The brownies remained untouched.
Another extended metaphor, Delainey? Don’t mind if I do.
Cooking and baking are acts of love, and according to a church sign in Wayne County, “No act of love is ever wasted.” (Even if there are leftovers.) So rarely are we privy to what goes on behind the scenes, and whatever mishaps occur in the kitchen are forgotten once the plate has been set lovingly on the table. The dishes are diverse, and they serve as a reflection of their makers. Pitch-ins, then, become an exercise in generosity and in sharing. They provide ample opportunities to expand our palates and engage in meaningful connections. There is no competition, no blue ribbon for Best in Show. Just the steady hum of community and the invitation to join together in conversation.
Breaking bread together in this issue are folks who’d save a seat for you at any table. Macy Lethco examines longstanding quilting traditions and the (re)fashioning of heirloom pieces into wearable garments. Tom Adler walks readers through the ever-expanding, and carefully curated, Kentucky Crafts Encyclopedia website. Portia Pennington provides an intimate glimpse into the world of hospice care. Finally, Lamont Pearley returns with the second installment of his State Street Baptist Church audio series.
It’s an eclectic bunch, that’s for sure, but I guarantee you’ll get your fill.
Delainey Bowers, Editor in Chief
*”You can’t use her real name! What if she reads it?” (Diane Bowers, August 4, 2022)