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Wild Feral Hogs of Alabama

May 14, 2012

If I ever have a band …

Or a restaurant …

Or …

The “Neecies” want to open a sausage factory. They have decided that they will save their great state from its wild feral hog population, whip up some savory breakfast meats, and become the Pork Princesses of Alabama in the process. I say more power to ‘em.

I met them just this weekend, these southern “Neecies”, at a little B&B in Pine Apple, ‘Bama. I have no idea what that means, “Neecies”, but when spoken with just the right drawl, it embodies nothing but profound endearment. Of course, that’s mostly irrelevant because what’s truly important is this idea that two fifty-ish ladies with their cardigans and cowboy boots are entertaining the idea of capturing Hogzilla and feeding him to us on a biscuit with grits.

Speaking of that, I had the very best grits I have ever had in my life this weekend.

 

 

What was I doing in Alabama?

 

 

Maybe I failed to mention …

Late Thursday night I flew to sultry Atlanta, Georgia and was met by my lovely friend, Stacey, for a wild girl’s weekend set to take place deep in the boonies of the Yellowhammer State.

Monroeville, Alabama. Hometown of one Miss Nelle Harper E. Lee. Inspiration for the fictional town Maycomb, from our beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Where I lunched at the Courthouse Café and had white chocolate macadamia nut cookies at Beehive Coffee and Books where, most recently, Fannie Flag held her book signing after winning the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year. Delicious cookies and they have the only WiFi for fifty miles. (This is most likely only critical information if you do not have Verizon, which I do not.) I was in heaven.

 

Loved this poem and failed to write down the name … isn’t that just like me? I do remember that it was from the book containing excerpts from previous Harper Lee Award winners …

 

Every year, the townspeople of Monroeville come together and put on a performance of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel right in the very courthouse where little Nelle’s father practiced law (until he couldn’t stand it anymore) while she watched from this balcony.

 

 

It was heavily unsettling—being in that courthouse—and I had to sit down twice, and not just because I’m prone to laziness, but because there is a force in there that is thicker than the humidity, something burdensome to the spirit, a purgatory for transformation. You feel it right in your core, too, hot and heavy, as images of Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson flicker behind the eyes in the shadow of welling tears.

 

 

It’s a reckoning one feels, I suppose, standing there under the gloss white balcony spindles amid the slick oak benches, this notion that fiction is a lie. Not the genre of fiction but the idea of fiction itself. Places and people gain new names, metaphors spread wings over facts, and occasionally outcomes are different, but the heart of the story is true, as true as yours and mine beat at this very moment. The only way fiction can exist is if we read it with our eyes very tightly closed.

The people of depressed Monroeville, where the novelist Harper Lee lives to this very day, feel it. And for twenty-two consecutive years, they have acted on it.

 

 

I was seated on the stage in a small corral where I could have reached out and touched the expressive white-haired gentleman who sat behind the bench robed as Judge John Taylor. More than once, our genteel Atticus Finch, dressed in his signature off-white suit, sat on the rail just before us to deliberate or talk to the children. A menacing Robert E. Lee Ewell glared at us often, pocketknife in hand, before turning his sneer back to Atticus and Judge Taylor. Tom Robinson was soft spoken and so sincere my heart nearly burst as he told us how he felt sorry for Mayella. Boo was as authentic as they come. I half expected to find an Indian Head Penny or a stick of gum under my napkin at the phenomenal dinner that followed the performance.

So. The dinner. Surrounded by local townsfolk, benevolent readers, and the myriad lawyers and judges who made the pilgrimage from as far as Chicago and Harvard, we feasted on slices of prime rib folded inside homemade dinner rolls, crab, fried chicken, pork tenderloin and all the fixings. Along the bar, muscadine wine, Maker’s Mark, and “Tequila Mockingbird” cocktails seemed to outnumber other libations.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. We said good evening to our dinner companions and drove through the black night, thirty-four miles to be exact, to our little bed and breakfast where we carried on for hours and gorged ourselves on homemade caramel cake and ice cold Coca Cola.

On Sunday morning, our hostess delivered a tray of blueberry cream cheese coffee cake, cranberry muffins, and the most delicious (almost spicy) banana bread I’ve ever eaten. On the side were a few links of the same sausage we had the morning before with our grits. Conecuh. Local Conecuh Sausage, we were told.

And we all left for home wondering if we could make something that damn good from the wild feral hogs of Alabama.

 

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2012 10:08 am

    Good lord you’re a redneck.

  2. May 14, 2012 10:23 am

    i’ve been in that courtroom, though it was in scottsboro. i could hear those voices though there were only the two of us travelers there that day. loved your story, ann. wish i’d had some of those grits.

    • May 14, 2012 7:28 pm

      It was intense … As you know. And those grits. Oh, girl. Slap your momma grits.

  3. May 14, 2012 11:00 am

    Please tell me that hog is photoshopped, or I will have night terrors featuring elephant-sized pork chops.

  4. May 14, 2012 7:15 pm

    oh snap. what Denise said. Please do tell.

  5. May 14, 2012 7:24 pm

    From the link above the photo:

    “An 11-year-old Alabama boy used a pistol to kill a wild hog that just may be the biggest pig ever found.
    Jamison Stone’s father says the hog his son killed weighed a 1,051 pounds and measured 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail. Think hams as big as car tires.
    If the claims are accurate, Jamison’s trophy boar would be bigger than Hogzilla, the famed wild hog that grew to seemingly mythical proportions after being killed in south Georgia in 2004.
    Hogzilla originally was thought to weigh 1,000 pounds and measure 12 feet in length. National Geographic experts who unearthed its remains believe the animal actually weighed about 800 pounds and was 8 feet long.
    After seeing the pig in person, taxidermist Jerry Cunningham told The Anniston Star it was “the biggest thing I’d ever seen … it’s huge.”
    The Anniston Star reported that the feral hog was weighed at the Clay County Farmer’s Exchange in Lineville. Workers at the co-op verified that the basic truck scales used were recently certified by the state. But no workers from the co-op were present when the hog was weighed.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,275524,00.html#ixzz1utgloqEB

  6. Joy Cartron permalink
    May 15, 2012 12:42 pm

    How lovely. I am so glad you had such a wonderful time.We stopped by my Mothers and Daddys .Daddy is on board with us and feral hog situation. Remember all you have to do to a man in the South is mention land ,guns and a good hunt, The Neesys will keep you posted .

    • May 18, 2012 7:05 am

      I knew you would get the job done, Miss Joy. If anyone will/could/should, it is most certainly you! Had such a wonderful time with y’all. Can’t wait to do it again next year! xoxoxo

  7. Stacey Gelband permalink
    May 15, 2012 2:11 pm

    Sheesh…from all of that info the takeaway is the hog business. You have a better chance of putting the “traditional turkey” place (that I can’t remember the name of) out of business. I’m sure your turkey is better. I’ll ask them for the recipe for the caramel cake. Then I’ll ask Mrs. Watson for the recipe for the grits. Your billboard can have photos of funeral fans. This is a wayyy better plan than hogs.

    • May 18, 2012 7:06 am

      Grits, hogs, and funeral fans. You know we’ve been in the south, girl. Love you. Had such an amazing time.

  8. May 15, 2012 11:30 pm

    Lovely, perfect, and u so deserved this getaway….on a side note, this feral hog is exactly why I don’t eat pork…

    • May 18, 2012 7:07 am

      Are you sure it’s the feral hog and not some cul …. oh nevermind. Don’t want to start any rumors! HAHAHAHAH!!!!!

      HAR! Next year, you are going with us. Just start packing now because we will NOT take no for an answer. I swear you won’t run up on Hogzilla (unless he’s fried and seated on nice china.)

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