“Wisteria and Butter Beans”

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One of my grand mothers lived in a town 36 miles from my hometown. I visited her often. My cousin who was nearest my age lived with her as did her brother and their mother. As we drove into the driveway of her small house in the spring, the car brushed against the lush vines of Wisteria. The plant is natural to the south and had grown into a tangle of masses and ropes like a grapevine encircling the driveway. The perfume laid heavy in the air.

In the late evening when the fireflies came out we would sit on the front porch. My grandmother would give my cousin and me a bowl full of speckled butter beans to shell. The one of us who found the prettiest bean would get a quarter. As we shelled beans and giggled about what little girls giggle about, I remember the even more pungent aroma of the…

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