Thursday lunch, Algoma Store.
Five of us are sitting at a round table with a vinyl, checked tablecloth. Mike and Clyde are eating bologna-and-cheese sandwiches on white bread. Johnny is having chicken-fried steak with white gravy and Don and I are having chicken wings, he with fried onion rings, me potato logs.
Saturday, a week ago, on the way home from a graveside service at Friendship, I drove through Trash Alley where a garage sale and fish fry were in progress. Thinking some levity might be a nice follow-up to what had been a solemn event, I rolled the window down and asked what was cooking. Fish and chicken.
The characteristic that probably best defined Bob McIntyre was his willingness to help others. Plenty of other adjectives apply: He was smart, kind, curious and very funny. People loved him. The goodness in him was plain to see.
HONEOYE, NEW YORK -- This time of the year the roadways of rural New York are littered with apples. You see them everywhere. Trees heavy with fruit line hillside orchards; a dozen unkempt trees stand in high grass beside a sagging farmhouse; a single gnarled tree in a hedgerow stands forgotten, its meager crop equally gnarly and forgotten, unnoticed except for the birds and worms.
Someone was playing a harmonica in Kroger the other day. I was punching in my customer number at the auto-checkout when the music started.
Rufus Ward called one day last week about a picture of Bob's Place, the now-mythical drive-in that was the high-school hangout for generations of Columbus teenagers.
KREIENSEN, GERMANY - My friend Axel and I were standing at Track 2 one day last week waiting for the 7:33 a.m. train to Hannover when he shouted greetings to someone across the way.
"He's an Elvis impersonator," Axel said. "He's quite good."
Sometime in the mid-1970s, I got in my car and drove to Avalon, Mississippi. While I was by no means a blues aficionado, I loved Mississippi John Hurt's music, and Avalon was his hometown.
Saturday we were having lunch in a small, overcrowded barbecue joint in Avondale, a revived neighborhood northeast of downtown Birmingham. One of the two young women waiting in line to order in front of us turned to Beth, who was pondering her choices out loud.
It was too much to get into a single photograph, the scene in front of us.
Sitting astride his bicycle, his foot on the curb, a man with a small dog was having a conversation with an unseen person on the other side of the street. Though they were a block away, the cyclist's voice reverberated down the street blending with the chorus of katydids, cicadas and crickets.
Turtle has just one plan at a time, and every cell buys into it.
-- Ted Kooser, poet
It's not often you see a box turtle swimming across a river. At first glance, it appeared to be a snake engorged with prey it had just swallowed. When I pulled close and realized what it was, I turned the boat to watch.
Call someone obsessive, and you run the risk of sounding critical. Yet, I meant it as the highest compliment for the late Gill Harris, the beloved engineer, musician, raconteur, gourmand, father and husband.
We are standing in the graveyard of a country church talking in hushed voices, about 60 of us. Hollywood could not have come up with a more beautiful setting for a funeral.
I was almost to the church that lost its steeple to the tornado, when the rooster started crowing. It sounded like he was a block away, somewhere on Third Avenue South. I was driving down College Street, windows down, headed to Mark Stokes' to have the pick-up's brakes checked.
In a world trending toward one-click-and-it's-on-the-way commerce, it's reaffirming to run up on someone who grows and sells watermelon plants from seeds found in a deceased uncle's freezer 20 years ago. Or white eggplant from seeds stashed in a baby food jar in the house of a grandmother named Zada.
At 5:30 in the morning it sounds as if the motel I'm staying in has been transported during the night to trackside at Talladega where time trials are going on. Outside on Airline Highway, pickup trucks, bumper-to-bumper, are roaring east in the dark toward the refineries at Norco and Destrehan.
On a rainy morning last week, William "Peppy" Biddy stood in front of a computer next to his desk in Cromwell Hall talking via Skype with a student in Italy. The student's name is Tristan, and he and Biddy were going over a marked up version of the student's M.F.A. thesis discussing Biddy's suggestions for improvement.
OK, here's a math problem for you, one I was faced with one day last week. A 1-cubic-foot bag of topsoil at a big box store costs $1.50. A yard of topsoil from the Lowndes County Co-Op is $40.
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