Porter Morgan first walked into my mother’s antique shop in Asheville, North Carolina in 2010. His wife Wilma, a collector of antiques, had passed away a few years prior, leaving him with mounds of things to go through. My mom went to his house and began rifling through beautiful glassware, leather gloves, and china, and helped Porter to part with his wife’s antiques. After her first visit, she came out with 40 boxes! He later called her, so happy that he could once again listen to his stereo, which had been buried for so many years. That first encounter blossomed into a wonderful friendship!
Porter volunteered with Meals on Wheels until he was 93 years old. He met a group of church friends for 6am breakfast at the same diner every Wednesday. Every Christmas, he baked the most delicious pound cake and was an expert confectioner: divinity, peanut brittle, and fudge were just some of the delicacies that would come out of his kitchen. The peonies in front of his house were worthy of a magazine cover. “My mama always said I made a great girl,” Porter says in his sweet Appalachian accent. But flowers aren’t the only thing he was good at growing. Porter spent hours upon hours in his vegetable garden, and every year his bounty included dozens of cans of zucchini, squash, tomatoes, sweet and yellow corn, and – our most favorite – greasy beans. At his last batch, he canned 82 quarts of greasy beans!
Greasy beans must be a southern crop, because when we tried to describe them to our local nursery, they had no idea what we were talking about. (“They taste almost meaty!” we said. “Uh, are you sure they weren’t cooked with a ham bone or something?” the sweet saleslady replied.) So, we ordered the seeds from Southern Exposure and planted them a few weeks ago. After the seedlings started to grow, Pat built a cage for the tomatoes and a trellis for the beans.
Porter moved into in an assisted living facility last year, shortly after he fell outside and couldn’t get up. He no longer is able to bake and garden, and many of his days are hard now. Nonetheless, he is the socialite of his building and maintains a steady flow of visitors, including my mom. He might not be able to grow greasy beans this year, so we are in his name.
We hope these beans will grow as well as Porter’s once did, and are so thankful that he introduced us to them!
Happy gardening, friends!