Monday, September 25, 2017

Cotton fields

My job took me to Fayette today. That's in the western part of Alabama. It seems like every house has a tractor. Rows of cotton seem to stretch to infinity. In years past, it was a crop that took a lot of manual labor to take it from seed to the tee shirt on my back. But these days, machines do a lot of the backbreaking work.

Picking cotton was one of the first gigs I had when I was a kid. My friend who lived next door made it sound like making a pocketful of money picking cotton was easy.

It didn't take me long in the hot September sun to realize there was NOTHING easy about picking cotton. But that was a valuable life experience. A few years back when I was thinking about taking a part-time job, I knew without question that I did not want to be a cotton picker.

But driving through cotton always makes me feel nostalgic though I couldn't tell you why.  A late morning appointment kept me from leaving in time for a leisurely drive and didn't have time to tarry on the way up. But after I finished my coaching sessions, I had time to stop and take a picture on the way home.

I pulled the truck off the edge of the road in the high weeds and flipped on my flashers. That wasn't necessary because traffic on those roads is almost non-existent. I stepped over the ditch separating the road from the fields and walked a few rows into the cotton.

After taking the picture, I stood for a long while listening to the wind and watching the clouds. Off in the distance, I heard a hawk. Shielding my eyes against the evening sun, I looked into the sky trying to find the bird. I never did see it but I knew it was there.

Seeing the bowls of cotton reminded me that even though it was still hot as a road flare, that autumn would be here soon. When I buckled back into my truck and cranked the engine. I wiped my forehead with a KFC napkin slipping the beast into gear. I thought to myself, autumn can't get here soon enough to suit me.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Good for the soul

We had big plans today. We were going to Costco in Birmingham, and afterward, a stop a Starbucks for a Sunday edition of the New York Times was on our list of to-do items. But none of that happened.

Instead, we walked early to avoid the heat of the day. The path looks different in the early morning sun. When we walked the back loop which meanders through the woods in the hollow down by the barn, I came upon a mossy rock about the size of a football. The angle of the sun highlighted hairy spikes that I'd never seen before. I

 squatted and shot a picture with my phone in portrait mode. When I use this setting, the picture has depth of field which often adds interest to photographs. I'm just now experimenting with that feature so there is a learning curve but I like the results I've had recently.

I hope you Sunday plans involved sipping coffee on the screen porch, reading the Sunday paper, and taking a long nap. Sundays like this are good for the soul sometimes.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday stuff

We had grilling on our minds for this evening. We had Conucah Sausage in the fridge but we needed veggies. I'm talking onions, peppers, and other goodies. 

We headed out to Aldies just before lunch to pick up some of the things we needed. We remembered to bring our bags, but standing at the door we realized we'd forgotten the quarter for the cart.  RATS! I pulled everything from my pockets. I had my pocket knife, my wallet, cough drops, breath strips, chapstick, and my phone. But no quarter. Jilda was perusing through her bag. I started to head back to the car and search through the dash pocket for change when a good Samaritan came up and said take my cart, please. Apparently, the same thing had happened to her and someone gave her their cart so she was paying it forward. We thanked her and headed inside.

When we headed out after picking up our things, we gave our cart to a lady who was searching her bag for a quarter. 

As I walked to the car I wondered how many people passed that cart to the next person. 
That was such an inexpensive way to make people smile. I plan to do that every time I shop there.

We made one last stop at our local produce stand. There are things they sell there that are the best so we don't take chances by buying elsewhere.

On the way inside, I noticed a stack of warty pumpkins. These are autumn decorations. One particular pumpkin was a weird little dude. The colors were beautiful. I snapped a picture for the blog tonight.

I hope you all have had a great day.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sad hat

When I got ready to cut the grass today, I looked for my lawnboy hat. I hang it on the top-right hook of the hat tree just inside our front door. Yet today it wasn't there. Hmmmm. My mind went on a journey.

The hat is much too big for Jilda and the dogs rarely wear hats so I felt sure the only clues available to solve the hat mystery was buried somewhere deep in the gnarly folds of my brain.

As I began to concentrate on where the hat could be it seemed like the light dimmed.  
For an instant, I thought that old age had robbed me of the ability to think and see at the same time. But then I realize I'd closed my eyes. 

After that confusion cleared, I remembered wearing the hat earlier in the week. I'd cut the grass around the barn. I'd also used the weedeater down there and I'd taken a break sitting on the edge of the front porch. I do that occasionally. It's a good place to contemplate about life, love, and what not. 

Today, when I walked down there, the hat was waiting patiently on the edge of the porch. It looked a little disappointed that I'd returned so soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


My neighbor called yesterday asking if I'd heard dogs barking the night before. She thought someone might be prowling around her house.

I hadn't heard any dogs. They weren't mine. But when I remodeled our house a few years back, I added a lot of insulation. The siding boards on top of the insulation are made from cement.  Hearing things outside during the night does not happen very often. 

My dogs stay inside at night. There is a doggy door that allows them to come and go, but they rarely move around after they settle in unless something is going on outside. They take their watch duties seriously.

Once when someone drove into our yard late, the dogs let me know. By the time I got my shoes on and stepped to the door, the late-night visitors were backing out the drive. Two dogs tipping the scales at a hundred pounds each aren't that inviting. My dogs are inside my fence, and would not bother someone unless they tried to come into their space uninvited. 

I would not have a mean dog. But having dogs that are watchful is a good thing – especially when you live as far out in the sticks as we do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Festive lights

We have colored lights around the top edges of our screen porch.  Sensors are set to turn them on when the daylight fades into dusk. 

A neighbor once asked why we left our Christmas lights up all year. "Those aren't Christmas lights," I said. "They are festive lights that keep Zombies from slipping into our house at night while we're sleeping and sucking our brains out through our ears with a soda straw." The neighbor took an involuntary step backward and searched my face looking for a sign of mirth. "You think I'm kidding, but I'm as serious as a brain tumor."  I went on to explain that I'd seen it on Facebook so I knew it was true.

OK, I'm lying about that. I made it all up. It came to mind this morning while writing my column for the Sunday paper.  

I went out to the porch this morning at 6 a.m. when Jilda headed out to teach her morning yoga class. As I sat there contemplating topics, I noticed the tiny colored lights. I love those little lights. 

Jilda and I went to a Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco and they had these lights strung on their dining veranda. We fell in love with them.  When we got back home, one of the first things we did was string these festive lights around our screen porch. 

I think they're working because I haven't seen the first Zombie since we strung the festive lights.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This is America

My buddy Danny and I were on the road early this morning. We had an appointment to shoot Facebook and Cable TV ads with a company in the northern part of the state.

We practiced our script on the drive up. When we drove through a small community called Nectar (such a sweet name for a community) Danny spotted a produce stand with mountains of sweet potatoes out front. Apparently, he and his wife love sweet potatoes as much as we do.

It took about an hour in the green room to get all the pieces video'd. Afterward, we headed back south.

We'd also passed a sign that said there was a historic covered bridge a short distance down a side road. 

I decided to have a look at the bridge. You don't see these every day. The brief side trip was worth the time. It was a beautiful, well-preserved bridge constructed of wood and metal. It was built in 1927.  We snapped several pictures and then headed back to the main road.

As we drove, we watched for the roadside stand. We saw it ahead and I hit the blinker to turn in. That wasn't necessary because I think we were the only car for miles on the two-lane.

The old gentleman minding the stand greeted us as we walked in.  A giant chicken fan over on the side of the tin-roof shed kept the air moving. It was hot in the sun but the stand was like an Oasis.

I walked around and looked as Danny gathered the things he wanted to buy. I noticed a sign by the exit that said: Put your produce in a bag and put your money in the cashbox. They still sold produce on the honor system when the owners were away from the stand.

Danny bought a basket of sweet potatoes, Vidalia Onions, and a basket of vine-ripe tomatoes. 

Standing there in this produce stand in the middle of nowhere was something I needed at this moment in my life. Things seem crazy right now.  Politics, the weather, and world news are enough to make a sane person crazy. But here in the "real world" people are growing pumpkins, potatoes, and tomatoes in their gardens. And they are willing to share their abundance with the people passing by on the honor system. 

As we stepped back into the college SUV and pulled out of the parking lot, I thought to myself, "This is America."

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