New Year’s Fixin’s

It was a blustery cold morning as Kitty and Pearl began their walk over to Maudie Pearson’s house. They carried tins full of green collards, black-eyed peasand hamhocks and some cornbread.
“This seems like an odd meal to take Miss Maudie,” Pearl said.
“It’s News Year’s Day fixin’s,” Kitty said.
“If she eats these she will have all the luck and money she needs in the next year,” Kitty said.
As they walked across the field to the tenant shack where eighty year-old Maudie lived, their steps barely marked the frozen ground which months before would have allowed them to sink a foot deep with each step.
Kitty’s walk was long and gated since she carried the extra weight of another family member inside her.
“Momma, when will the new baby come,” Pearl asked.
“When its ready,” she said. “I feel it should come any day now.”
Maudie welcomed them at the door and asked them to sit a spell.
“You folks sure surprised me coming on such a cold day,” Maudie said.
“I knew you wouldn’t feel up to cookin’ much, so we wanted to bring you blessings for the New Year,” Kitty said.
“And it looks like you will have a new blessing soon,” Maudie said as she placed her hand on Kitty’s belly.
The threesome sat near the warm fire and shared some hot cider as Maudie showed off a quilt top she was working diligently to finish.
Kitty said they best be getting back.
“The men folk will be home from hunting soon, and they might think we run off,” she said.
Kitty and Pearl took small steps on the way back. Kitty’s pace became slower and slower as she fell on her knees to the ground.
The pain doubled her over.
“Momma,” Pearl called to her, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s time,” Kitty exclaimed.
“What do I do?” Pearl asked.
“Help me and let’s get back to Maudie’s,” she said.
Pearl helped her up, and the duo made their way back to the tenant house.
Maudie said, “Land sakes I knew it would not be long.”
She helped her into the bed and told Pearl to fetch some water from the well and put it in the fire to boil.
Pearl did, and then she placed a damp cloth on Kitty’s head to ease the sweat rolling from her brow. Every few moments intense pain brought Kitty’s shrill scream of agony.
“What can we do?” Pearl said.
“We are doing all we can; the rest is up to God and the little one,” Maudie said.
After a while the screaming stopped, the pain subsided, and in Maudie’s arms was a brand new baby boy.
“Well it looks like the blessings of the New Year have arrived,” Maudie said.
Maudie reached over, picked up the new quilt she was making and wrapped the boy inside, laying him beside Kitty.
“He’ll get it a little early,” she said. “I was hoping to finish it before he came. I’ll do the rest a little later. He needs it more now.”
As the little baby looked up at Maudie and smiled, a shared grin was passed to Kitty and Pearl.
Kitty looked at Pearl and said, “Sharing blessings goes a long ways, little one. Just look what a few greens, peas and cornbread gave to us today.

From the book “A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes”