Boiled Peanuts

Peanuts boiling on the stove. Mmmmmm!

Peanuts boiling on the stove. Mmmmmm!

It’s been a busy week here. Family came in from out of town. Working. Writing. Typical day-to-day activities that keep us running from one end of sanity to the next.

I’m sure it’s the same way for everyone these days.

Fortunately, for me, I’ve had some time this afternoon to start a pot of peanuts to boil. Few things say fall quite like fresh, hot boiled peanuts.

Now, I know a lot of you think fall begins and ends with pumpkin spiced everything. Maybe that’s what you grew up with in your part of the country. But for me, football and boiled peanuts will always be the perfect symbol of autumn. It means cooler weather, the end of hot summer days, and the beginning of nights in front of a roaring fireplace.

It means home.

My dad planted peanuts in his garden every year. They were one of the last things to come in before the ground was tilled under in preparation for next year’s planting. I can remember vividly the fall Saturday’s I’d go down to the garden. He’ll dig up the plants with a pitchfork so as not to damage the kernels below. Then we’d wash them off. There were always several bucketfuls of peanuts to wash and prep.

Afterwards, we’d carry the buckets to a large black cauldron. Dad would build a fire. We’d add the peanuts (about one bucket per cooking, if memory serves correctly) to the cauldron, fill it up with water, add plenty of salt, and sit back while the concoction cooked.

I was in charge of making sure the water never boiled completely out so I always had the water hose handy. (Yep! I survived cooking over a fire and drinking from a water hose!) Dad had an old radio. We’d sit an listen to Larry Munson calling the Georgia game.

At the time, I’m sure I was much more excited about eating the boiled peanuts than anything else. After all, sitting around watching a pot to boil is not the most entertaining thing to do as a kid. Looking back though, I wish more than anything I could sit just one more time with my dad and listen to Larry call a Dawgs game.

The cauldron is long since gone. Dad passed away 14 years ago. The anniversary of his passing was this past Monday. Now, instead of an open fire, I simply put the pot on the stove and tend to other things. There’s no time anymore to sit around waiting for the water temperature to rise.

And yet, somehow, it’s fitting that this week finds me once again waiting on the simple pleasure of boiled peanuts. They’ll always remind me of my youth and the bygone years I miss so much.

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