I was surprised a man approached me near the cafe as he walked in for breakfast. I recognized him as the one who took over the iron-worker’s shed halfway up the steep hill. In the past few weeks, he greeted John and me with several sentences of a Southerner’s standard greeting as we walked past. (“How y’all doin’? Mighty fine day! Y’all have a good un!”)
Today he said, “I wanted ta tell ya ta be careful. T’other day y’all just got past my place, an’ a cow came bustin’ outta the woods. Run right across the road inta the cornfield. Ya need to be aware of what’s goin’ on around ya. Ya never know what’s gonna happen with animals around here.”
Please note that I am not making fun of his accent, because I sound a lot like him, only at a higher pitch. Blogger Kate Crimmins (https://coffeekatblog.com/) can vouch for that after I jangled her ears with my normal speech. Kate herself sounds like a normal person with a nice Pennsylvania accent.
I thanked him, and we had a good laugh over crazy animals that get loose in the area.
Going up the hill, I stopped to chat with Nancy at the first house on the right. She had been concerned at not seeing us for several days. I found out the big RV parked in the yard belongs to her niece from Missouri. She and her husband and crazy dogs are going to move here and open a commercial cleaning business.
Toward the top of the steep hill, next-door-neighbor Dawn stopped her car and wondered why a vehicle with a flashing yellow light turned around in my driveway. The only thing I could think of was someone delivering the newspaper. I came home to find papers for three days in the box. A sheet inside explained that our carrier quit, and another person will deliver to us after doing his own route. With news three days old, we might as well be on Colonial time.
I checked the weather forecast, both an hourly list and an animated map, before going out to walk. There was a 5% chance of rain, and the rain clouds should have been diverted by mountains. Halfway to the creek, moisture was falling through the air. I couldn’t see it except on my glasses. It was a percentage of rain, not just a chance of rain. Truly, the droplets were about five percent of the size of rain! I started down the steep hill and turned back. Those silly clouds were watching me, and they were not to be trusted. Sure enough, shortly after I got home, the gutters were gurgling.
I took a photo from the front porch, which shows that a dogwood tree and a row of burning bush plants are gearing up for Fall.
As we walked near the firehouse, a volunteer fireman called a greeting to us. He was taking his boots and some other things inside. He teased us about exercising, and we began to chat. We like hearing about volunteer fire departments, since we know several volunteers. Two are named Dennis, one in Stony Brook and another upstate NY. My brother was also an active one when he lived near Charlotte.
This man said they had a busy week last week. There was a house fire with one dead, a car fire, and one other event that John and I couldn’t remember. When we showed interest, he explained that the house fire was probably caused by propane. They think the man accidentally turned on the stove without realizing it. John heard his soft comment that alcohol could have been an issue. Those were sobering facts, and we didn’t probe. John asked about the average number of calls per year. The answer was 700! That would work out to almost two per day! We may live out in the country, but we generate our fair share of emergencies.
We walked home, appreciating our peaceful breakfast on the back porch. For the foodies – we had fresh-baked cardamom muffins and hot coffee.
I’ve decided you’re never too old for play dates. John’s date to go to the train club had been on the calendar for weeks. He left early one morning and planned to return late the next day. From something he said, I think the men were changing the track and had to deal with a large tree root. That would not be pleasant in high heat and equally high humidity. My weather, on the other side of the mountains, was much cooler. We found out after we moved here that East Tennessee tended to be hotter than Western North Carolina. What a year-round blessing that turned out to be!
I met neighbor Marla as she was walking Albert, and I opted to stay with them. I did two laps of the street instead of going to the creek. Marla claims morning is not her best time of day, but she always has interesting things to discuss. For some reason, we got on the subject of war movies. She knew a lot more about them than I did. I was very happy to hear about them without having to sit through one.
Marla happened to mention to her mother (Connie) that I was alone. Connie called, and we had a spontaneous play date for coffee. We went to Panacea, a roaster in Frog Level. (You can tell you are in the South when you see area names like that. I grew up in West Tennessee near Frog Jump.) We chatted about many things, including technology, siblings, cell phones, and grandparents. I was very interested in hearing about her weight loss – 50 pounds since spring. Isn’t that marvelous? Of course, I wanted to celebrate that with a photo and she graciously obliged.
Albert, neighbor Marla’s German Spitz, loves to sniff around Bob’s car when we meet at the bus stop. Bob invited the dog in, saying there were some spilled Cheerios he could clean up. Albert was delighted and set to work as we humans talked.
Logan (8) was out of sight, running back and forth from the car to the end of the street. We laughed when Bob said quietly, “I feel sorry for the teacher.”
When the car was clean, Albert was petted before heading in to breakfast.
All that activity was in sharp contrast to the beginning of our walk. A deer paused to look at us through the heavy mist, well before the sun burned off the moisture.
Near the creek, John said, “My hair is wet from the mist.”
I replied, “Mine is, too.” Laughing, I said, “I had to touch my hair, didn’t I? It’s like wet paint! You see the sign and have to check to see if the paint is dry.”
We had two points of interest this week – Hurricane Florence and Logan’s getting on the bus.
The hurricane was a non-event in our area, unlike the flooding in eastern North Carolina. We noticed one 10-mile-per-hour gust of wind that lasted 30 seconds. Big whoop! One full day of steady rain made Jonathan Creek rise. I was texting with friend Karen when John walked in and asked if I wanted to drive to the creek. We rushed there and took a few shots to share with her. Karen is one who usually walks to the creek with us when she is here, so she had a vested interest in it. We caught the water at its highest point.
John checked the rain gauge when we were sure all the rain was over. Despite being warned that we would have 10 to 20 inches of rain, we could muster only 4.
A video clip of our street at 7:40 would show everyone converging at the bus stop. We try to time our walk to be there, and Marla comes out with dog Albert. Logan jumps out of his car, not so much to join us, as to run circles around us. In the photo, Logan had already greeted us at Marla’s driveway and run onto the neighbor’s lawn around the telephone pole.
Logan circled around to pet Albert as we began to talk to Bob in the car. There was a pause as we watched the boy leap onto the bus, and we scattered as quickly as we gathered. Another day was off to its proper start.
To celebrate John’s birthday, we went to the restaurant where grandson Nathaniel worked for the past two summers. As the camera came out, son John $ adroitly offered to take our photograph, thereby getting on his preferred side of the camera. I took comfort in knowing I could erase anything I didn’t like.
John likes that restaurant for one particular dish, which they do well. All their food is good, but I go there to bask in reflected glory. One of the owners generally cruises the dining room, and John lets her know we are Nathaniel’s grandparents. Last year she beamed on us and told us what a marvelous worker he was. This year she called over the other owner, and he joined her in praising our favorite chef-in-training. Their words were glowing, and I took in every syllable. I looked at my plate and took myself down a notch. If Nathaniel had been working there, he would have peeled the potatoes.
Later we had John’s favorite dessert, angel food cake with strawberries and whipped topping. As we sat on the porch, we told $ that we’d heard coyotes howling in the pasture the night before. We’d never heard them so close or so persistent before. Although we were not frightened, he assured us that no coyote had ever killed a human.
The next morning, John saw the single candle left from the night before and stuck it in a biscuit. It was his official birthday, after all. Normally I cannot do two things at once, but I did that time. I pulled out the camera to take a shot of this shady character, and I sang Happy Birthday. $, right beside me, declined to sing. If you listen carefully, you can hear his silence.