Mixsonian Larry

Dusk at Grandpa and Grandma's House

Dusk is a special time of day for me, it brings back fond memories from my childhood. Dusk is a time of transition, a time of change. It is no longer day but yet it's not night. The day creatures are quieting down and the night creatures are beginning to come out. 

When I was a child my family would go out and visit my grandparents, Grandma and Grampa Mixson, who lived on a farm out in the country. When I say country I mean Country. The closest town was Micanopy which was considered in the country, which incidentally is the second oldest city in the United States after St. Augustine, and they lived about ten miles further out in the country from Micanopy. My grandparents were poor dirt farmers. They ieaked out a living by growing and selling vegetables and my grandfather doing other odds jobs. I remember when I was really young going out to the outhouse at the back edge of their yard and using the Sears and Roebuck catalog for paper, really! I remember when my grandfather added an extension on to the back of the house for the bathroom and him digging the hole for the septic tank. Before he built the bathroom my grandmother would bring the wash tub into the kitchen, heating water on the stove and the kids would take a bath in the tub. 

One of my most favorite times was in the summer after dinner. We would always have dinner around six o'clock, perhaps ham, and from the garden peas or beans, fresh sliced tomatoes and mashed potatoes, fried okra. After dinner my brother and I would ask grandma for a mason jar and we would punch holes in the lid. As dusk fell we would go out in to the field behind the house and catch lighting bugs and put them into the jar. As it got darker we would be called in and then the whole family would sit on the front porch in rocking chairs. The kids would usually pile into the swing that hung across one end of the porch. 

At dusk in the country the whole world seemed to slow down and almost stop. It would be so quite that you might hear the neighbor's dog bark off in the distance, the nearest neighbor being five miles down the road. The adults would talk in that slow southern way…. Grandpa might say "Did you hear about uncle Maxi's dog"….. what seemed about a minute later dad might say…. "nope" …. and then after anxious wait when you think that grandpa wasn't going to say what happened … "coon got a hold of him……messed his leg up pretty bad." This would go on until it got dark with them not saying probably more than a dozen sentences in a half hour. 

When it got dark the whippoorwills would start up "wheeepoooowilllll" off in the distance to the left. "wheeepoooowilllll" one would answer off to the right, "wheeepoooowilllll" another one much louder across the dirt road in front of the house. Whippoorwills were always a mystery to me having never seen one. Many years later while going down a country dirt road with my dad driving there was the bright orange eyes in the middle of the road which flew off as we approached. Quite excited I ask "What was that!" and dad calmly replies "a whippoorwill." 

When it came time for the kids to go to bed Grandma would get this really old fashioned pump sprayer out and spray the room to kill the mosquitoes. God, I hate to think what was in that spray, could have been DDT for all I know. My brother and I and would climb into bed still slightly damp from the mosquito spray. Our bedroom was next to the front porch so I would lie there and listen to the adults still talking in that slow way ……"Aunt Iva Mae wasn't feeling too good the other day…" and I would fall asleep watching the lighting bugs flashing in the jar on the dresser.

Larry Mixson July 3, 2000    

See also Grandma Mixson's Old House