by: Jamie Rolland
photos by: Chelsie Rich
It all started when I was a little girl. The best memory I have was when I was about five-years-old. I remember my mom, brother Bubba, aunt Margaret, my two cousins Juanita and Stephanie and my dad. We would load up, go to Mohawk Park and spend the day picking onions.
After we found enough, we went to my aunt’s to clean the onions, cut them up and have dinner that evening. That’s when it all started for me. Picking onions. I never picked them when I was younger, due the fact that I didn’t want to get dirty.
One afternoon when I was about eight, maybe nine-years-old, I remember sitting around the house with my mom. We weren’t doing anything, just sitting around.
She asked if I wanted to go pick onions. I asked her, “where?” I remember her going into the kitchen and grabbing two knives. We got into the car and drove out to Heyburn Lake right outside my home town, Kellyville. We didn’t say much going out there, just rode with the windows rolled down and the smell of fresh air and the bacon sandwiches she had prepared for us to snack on.
We spent that whole afternoon picking onions and talking. It was at that moment, I realized how relaxing and nice it was just to sit and talk to my mom. To hear her stories of when she grew up, how she picked and cleaned onions with her family. I never liked cleaning onions but I sure loved picking them.
That was always the easy part to me. Cutting into the grass and going through the dirt to get to that fresh onion. When I first started picking, I used to get the garlic and onions mixed up. My mom had to tell me how to get the right kind.
She always told me that if an onion has a big head, it is going to be tough and takes a little longer to cook. When we finished picking onions, she always soaked them for a few hours so they would be a little easier to clean.
Picking onions to me is just a relaxing thing to do. Thinking about life, older ones that have gone on, it really gives you time to be alone with your thoughts. Although I like my alone time, I miss picking onions with my momma and just listening to her talk and tell me her stories.