Saturday, August 29, 2009


We woke this morning to a fine, cool dawn. I'd not noticed when I let the dog out for his daily sunrise salutation. It was early and I went back to bed. But soon after Trooper could sleep no more and we woke, each of a mind for a cup of coffee.

He called to me as I dressed, an urgent but happy tone. He stood at the back door. Ah, the breeze and the slight damp of the night was almost autumnal and we grinned like fools. "Coffee on the terrace, Sir?" I joked. And so we did - one of the best mornings we've had in ages.

This all followed a night of slumber - the deep and satisfying kind that comes after a long day of labor. And labor we - well, he - had. His friend needed a bit of assistance on the acreage he was clearing. We both prefer that sort of work wherein what you have accomplished is evident at the end of the day. The kind of work that leaves dust in the sweaty creases of your brow. What a sense of happiness comes from would think the 100+ degrees would make it a burden. But instead one learns to lean in to a breeze and appreciate it. You pour that ice cold water from the cooler on a towel and it takes your breath away along with that top layer of filth.

We look at that kind of life with a sort of mixed sense of desire and resignation. It will all come to this, won't it? "A southern boy can survive..." And what about when there is no icy water? Will a pond suffice? Or will it take swipes of alcohol on the back of the neck to mimic that cooling?

I've been working in the tomatoes, taking out foliage and suckers, hoping to force them into a renewed vigor for this best season. All the small ones are dried and won't go to waste - they'll work someday in a stew or chili. And if fortune gives us a new batch? Well, then the canning will be next. I lucked upon a slim book from 1938 that covers the approach from seed to shelf. A knowledge almost lost in today's world where anything can be had at a shop within a few miles of home. But there is renewed interest in the kitchen arts with even charcuterie guides being sought.

With every plant, every day moving dirt, every stir of the compost heap - with every ancient motion resurrected in modern bones and flesh - we move from the deadend path to that fork and onto a rougher road that lets one continue, without dependence, perhaps some reluctance, but surely to a better place.

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