Stump Fire and Returning Nathaniel

Son John $pencer has a little camping auger he has been experimenting with. He drilled holes in a stump and showed grandsons David and Nathaniel how to set a tiny fire in it. The young men were in the dark, although they saw the light.

On our way to take Nathaniel back to his dorm, we ate at Flat Rock Wood Room not far from Carl Sandburg’s home. We were surprised to find any restaurant equally featuring barbecue and pizza. I thought the food was tasty and served imaginatively. The fellows all had a skillet filled with macaroni and cheese, topped with barbecued pork. David’s side dish was fried sweet potatoes in a tiny bucket. I had shrimp and grits with barbecue sauce.

On the way home I savored the memories of Nathaniel’s quick visit. He told us about his busy life – working one job in the dorm and one in the cafeteria, for a total of 40 hours a week. He attends one class in person and takes the rest of his classes on line. He doesn’t have much time to cook. I was delighted that he brought some sweet potatoes and was willing to prepare them any way we wanted. It’s a pleasure to cook with him. He never gets in my way, and I try to stay out of his. The mashed sweets were marvelous.

My favorite story was set in the cafeteria. There was an area in the dining room where people were not supposed to step. Despite a sign on the floor, people continually walked there while glued to their phones. Nathaniel suggested they tape it off and put a mannequin there. It was his suggestion that turned into his assignment. He said he changed the clothes on the mannequin once a week and put it in different positions on the floor. Lots of people commented on it, and no one stepped there again. I wish I’d asked for a photo, because I’m sure he took a few.

After we came home, David and I were relaxing in easy chairs. I said, “I don’t think Nathaniel moved the mirror down.”

John had looked and said that was correct. David got up, and I reached for the camera. The ritual was obligatory, even without Nathaniel. With the mirror lower, John and I can now see our heads. It would be comfortable for David about five inches higher.