Somewhere between the point I learned to ride a bike and the year I saved enough money to buy a pair of rollerblades, I gained permission to drive the riding lawnmower down the driveway and around the road's bend to my uncle's house--a .2-mile blip that stretched forever when using the mower's "turtle" speed setting. My uncle and dad co-owned a farm equipment store in Smithfield--inherited from their father and their father's father, who started the thing as a mule company in the Thirties. This was something of the family tradition, the preferred mode of transportation. I have a framed photograph of my dad atop a Model B tractor, about the age I was on my maiden mower voyage. And though the picture is black and white, I know the tractor was orange: the signature hue for both the Allis-Chalmers and Kubota rigs we sold.
In the rural world there are John Deere families, and New Holland families, and Farmall families, and Massey Ferguson families. But we were solidly an Allis-Chalmers and Kubota family because we were an orange family, one sustained on the likes of pimento cheese, cheese puffs, and Cheez-Its. That's not to say we didn't eat our vegetables. My dad kept a garden in the backyard and my mother swears (and photographs concur) that I ate so many carrots as a kid the tip of my nose turned a bright shade of tangerine. But when we did eat our greens, we often (and I always) covered them with a sheath of American cheese.
The real crux of orange living, however, is the Nab--a simple combination of two cheese crackers and a smear of peanut butter that takes its name from Nabisco, which manufactured an early line of the snack, but was made by multiple brands.
*Keep reading in The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food (Eno Press, 2016).