Thursday, March 16, 2006

As a small boy I can remember the words of the old hymn sung by Johnny Cash with the background voices of June Carter and the Carter Family singing:
O they tell me of a home far beyond the sky- O they tell me of a
land far away- O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise- O they tell me of an uncloudy day- O the land of the cloudless day-
O the land of the uncloudy day- O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise-O they tell me of an uncloudy day ...

And I can well remember the wondrous days of playing for hours in the woods and fields and coming in to stand before the swamp cooler as the sweat dripping from the face, legs, and back dried as the water-cooled air blew over the skin. What joy waiting for the adults to chip away at the 50 pound block of ice and fill the churn for making home made ice cream---sitting on the top of the churn to hold it down while the older boys took turns cranking the handle--sleeping on the old iron bed on the front porch in the Summer time, falling asleep to the counting of the stars in the sky---no city lights--only stars.

Something happened between youth and adulthood. I live in the same area--Central Texas, but now I find myself avoiding the outdoors most of the year during any daylight hours. Barnabas Collins of the old Dark Shadows could not have been more desperate to avoid daylight as I am in Texas from May 1--September 30. Even with a marvelous pool just 4 steps from the back-door, I find myself not even thinking of getting into the water until the sun is completely down and the sweat from the ice has dried from the first glass of single malt Scotch. On the 1st day of May I go into religious fervor--scurrying through the house to cover every window and glass in all the doors with the heaviest of curtains and covers. Like the cave of Socrates, these openings all remain secure and no light is directly allowed in again until October 1.

But wonders of wonders is that special time of year--October 1 through April 30---those 272 magical days in Texas where the sun does not beat down so maniacally. The sheets and heavy curtains are torn down hungrily and the back door is thrown open all the waken hours of the day and night for the fresh air of the cloudy days. By 7:30 each evening the fire is set--one in each fireplace of cedar or oak, and one in the outdoor pit with pinion wood. With a good book in one hand, and the obligatory Scotch in the other--Joe DiMaggio under foot. (For those of you new to my saunters into my bucolic life, Joe D is the "Mrs. Bennett" blonde Spaniel I rescued some years ago, and whose only joy in life is whinnying about his sorrows and woes like the grand Mother in Pride and Prejudice--"Oh, No one has ever suffered as I have...") And the grand, old-aged woman of our life--Guardian Angel Cat--the gray and orange, tortoise shell cat loved by all, sleeping her 23 hours a day always within arms length of me, unless I am in bed, and then curled above my head. That is when Lou is not home-for when he is there, she is ever in his lap.

Cloudy days are the guardian of a good mans traditions--the family dog and cat, the nightly fires and Scotch--the good books always in hand and piled in gratuitous stacks in every room--every room. Pinion wood for the outdoors and alternating stacks of oak and cedar for the indoor aromas. Now as I barely eye my fifth decade and peak into the Sunset years, I will take a cloudy day any day. Wrapped in the memories of all those who have gone before me--like the favorite, heavy, well-worn housecoat and snuggled in the serene comfort of 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets--cloudy days are now the chicken soup--Oy Vey--the mazza ball soup of my soul.

Having despised the Country music of my parents and grandparents--now finally entering my own "adult" years, I find such haunting truths from the songs of today's country such as Kenny Chesney, "Sunny days seem to hurt the most, wear my pain like an overcoat..." In the light and heat of Texas my pain is ever with me. Under the clouds, it somehow is tempered with the sweet memories of their loves and laughters--regret tempered with the resolve to live better to honor their sweet memories.

"I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; Return to Me, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 44:22

1 comment:

jenny said...

You finally got around to it! Awesome - I love it! Will keep an eye out for the next installment :-) Take care! /Jenny