field notes ➤ Rita Williams, 2009

❝ Purple Hulls

During the months of July, August and September purple hull peas are ready to be harvested. Almost every Creek Indian I have met loves these peas. Many have called our house to see if we have planted purple hulls. We planted late so we didn’t have any during green corn, but we do now.

This year I decided to try my hand at burning the hulls to have some blue powder on hand and I did it. I was surprised though. I thought for sure that I would have more than what was made. My husband and I sat out underneath our canning shed late one hot afternoon and hulled a wash tub full of peas. As you know it takes a lot to hull to put up a good mess and keep for the winter months, too.

Excited about the experience of a challenge of doing something older Creek women used to do a lot of, I waited to find the exact moment to do this. I was delighted in the fact that I had my aunt’s old black cast iron pot and now it was going to get good use like it used to. I had my husband do his part of gathering the wood and I found the exact spot to put it. The moment of truth was upon me as to whether I would meet the challenge to prove that I could also pass the test of being a true Creek woman. I had heard the stories from my father, mother, aunts and uncles how the women used to work hard and that had been deep-seeded in my mind. I guess my days of hearing matured with the desire to put into experience that which was told. I have always admired the fortitude our Creek women possessed, they did not have all the luxuries of life. Most of their chores were done outside in the summertime.

But getting back to my purple hulls, I labored with caution over every detail like a holy ceremony being careful not to leave anything out each time and hoping I was doing it right. As I carefully gathered my burnt hulls that turned into powder, I began to sift to remove any unwanted debris. Just as I lifted my sifter the wind picked up and scattered, so quickly, my powder into the air. I hollered out to the wind, “Noooooo, don’t do this to me.” Well, needless to say I fought the wind. I could have gone inside to do this, but it would not have made the experience real.

I did wind up with a whopping ONE, yes one, half-pint jar full and another half of a half-pint jar. Well, I am not discouraged! I still have some purple hull peas in our garden to pick and hull and yes, I will do this again. ❞

MFSI Newsletter
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative
(September 2009)

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