The Warm Sun
On an increasingly rare stay back home, I find myself out walking in the pasture.
“Yawh. Yawh there.” DaddyTroy came through the gate with an old bucket of watermelon rind and corn, cows giving way. With a cigarette at the corner of his mouth and glasses tipped on his nose, he went about his work with a flow of purpose, hard jolts, haggard rope ties, and rough side pats on full bellies that bellowed with straw whiskering out as they chewed. I stood back and waited for his motions, holding a rope tie and loading rusty old chain into the back of the old scratched bed of his truck whose tailgate creaked with a comforting familiarity.
But it is only a daydream.
I walk over the footsteps of my childhood, and theirs, looking for evidence that it was real.
The early Fall breathes through the treetops of the pastured hills of Piney Grove, rustling the leaves of pine, sycamore, pecan, and oak. Dew sits on blades of buffalograss, and wet-tipped boots blow grasshoppers through the Johnson and rye. Quietness rides on the breeze past Hereford grazing and punctuates the warm hand of late morning sun. The air is thick and crisp, at once bringing with it a certain kind of death and a certain kind of life.
I think of rocking chairs and porch swings, burning barrels and fire ants, hay bales and digging out potatoes with spoons. All of these I saw and touched and did with my own eyes and my own hands and came and went and came and went again, and time passed with memory and wore on with rust and rot and the yellowing of baseball cards.
It may be that the earliest memory I have retained of playing together with Grandmommy and Daddy Troy happened under that pecan tree. There we were, scampering and squatting from one pecan to the next, filling our paper grocery sacks, barely shaded from the blazing rays of an early autumn sun.
A swing hung from a lower branch. That tree will dry up from the inside out and die. Memories of fiddling around in that grimy toolshed full of Hills Bros coffee cans full of rusted odds and ends while Daddy Troy cranked up the air compressor to fill an old football we’d pass back and forth in the yard, of picking cataba worms off the catawpa tree at the old homestead, of him pulling by a trailer of hay bales behind the truck as I sprinted to open the lock on that big aluminum gate, all ripening into sweet memory, eventually to rot into fragments and return into an earthen nothingness.
Yet we struggle to keep fertile the crust of new hope underneath the tragedy of what will never again be. Or so one can only assume.
by Blake Edwards, October 2011
This is yet another fragmented chapter of a fragmented collection of stories intended for what is currently an incomplete book called Piney Grove.
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