From as far back as I can remember, there was nothing I loved more than a drive through the country, observing whatever it was real country folk might be doing on any given day.
Fast forward to age five when my number one joy was going to work with my dad, who likewise, lived to serve country folk. I'd buckle up in the passenger seat of his van; he'd crank up Roger Miller and we'd tool through the countryside playing the cow game and singing "Me & Bobby McGhee" like there was no tomorrow. (The cow game, for those who've never played it, consists of counting the cows outside your window. Pass a church, you double your count. Pass a cemetery- all your cows die and you start all over. Little did I realize that Dad was calling the shots all along and always knew just how to kill off my cows before we wound up back home. You think I would've questioned why all the churches were on his side, and the cemeteries on mine... I didn't figure out til I was well past college age, but I loved the game all the same for in it, I had my dad's undivided attention and we laughed a lot as we drove.)
All of this to say it was no wonder I set an alarm this morning and woke up hours before. Why? Because today I was to go with my farmer friend Thurman, to pick up goat chow at a place he fancies. It comes from some far away county some hour and a half way ...a place known for its chow and its cattle and goat auctions (a county which shall remain nameless to protect those who might be doing the same in my own). Yes, he found a deal. But more important, this was about spending time and learning from Thurman.
We were slated to meet at 9 am, but owing to a goat having troubles on his end (mine are done birthing) we were a tad bit late getting started, but once he showed up in his wooden-paneled flat bed truck, I jumped in the passenger side, memory cells a-bursting as they hit on all cylinders recalling back roads of every country drive I'd ever cherished.
It was right at 11:11 when Highway 10 took us halfway through Hartsville (easily spotted by the big 'ol heart on its water tower). We reached our destination shortly before noon according to the rotating bank sign on the corner. In a matter of 20 minutes we had paid for and watched a kind soul offload a full ton of feed (having first taken down our tax exempt numbers for matters such as these)...Coming back, Thurman was kind enough to let me stop and inspect a 1990 GMC truck for sale in someone's drive. In short, it was a perfect glimpse of life in the country, the way I used to observe it when looking out the windows of a Greyhound bus on my way to see my sweet Granny.
Yep. I wouldn't take anything for those days...Nor would I take anything for days like today which tap every memory cell my body clearly still embodies....I go to bed tired, but fulfilled, reminded all over again that some folks really do live life "Southern to the Core" ...and proud these folks are still around to teach and remind us all as to why that's still a very precious thing.