Country Comforts

Rolling hills, small towns, and turning leaves were scattered through the countryside of the Missouri Ozarks. We set sail from the city to visit family and escape the daily monotony. It was the kind of trip one could take anytime.  Yet we never seemed to make the time. A combination of Procrastination and life pulling us in too many different directions. The calendar marking time, a reminder of how many days sacrificed to less important things than enjoying time with loved ones.

It took a favorite uncle’s death, finally jarring our conscience in to long overdue action. Perhaps my aversion to things “country” contributed to my earlier inactions. A city kid, I still feel lost and out of my element in towns with populations under the thousands. That or it is easier to hide among the masses.

We arrived after many hills and valleys, and various turns at the rock that looked like a bear, then another at the bear that resembled a rock. Or so the directions seemed to “City Kid”.

Our presence barely evoked a reaction from old Buddy the beagle. He raised his head from the grass at the edge of the pond, and sensing either no danger, or no food in his future he lay it back down with a sigh. The family gathered on the front porch, of the cabin offered a warmer welcome. All people I love dearly and saw too little of over the years. Two Aunts, two Uncles, my Mother and my long lost Cousin all smiling and happy.

After unloading the car and settling in the cabin, (a far cry from the country cabin I envisioned.) We sat on the porch with cool drinks and shared warm memories. A second old beagle licked my hand as I pet her.  Not caring about the goings on around her. (Or perhaps she was smart enough to know it mattered little.) Even the country dogs know more than the “City kid”. “Fancy”, the female beagle seemed to sense as much. Licking my hand and comforting me with big eyes.

As we sat overlooking the pond and watching the sumac turn vibrant red before our eyes. The Stories flowed, and the wine and the afternoon both began merging in to a wonderful combination of warmth and familiarity. My uncle Bill now in his eighties, the host. He was a character “in his day” and a character “on this day”. He sang old country tunes in a rhythmic lesson.

“An Opossum and a Raccoon out by the Persimmon tree, the Raccoon climbed up it. And the Opossum said “Hey throw some down for me”!

Uncle Bill told tales of his days in the Army. He was stationed in New Guinea, the “Country Kid” a long way from home, wild boar hunting. World War 2 raged around him, but the “Country Kid” remained the same. He recalled meeting my Aunt Vi, at 13.They later married and had 2 kids.

My Uncle Wayne shared a story of Pheasant hunting in South Carolina. A hunting tale of Karma as it turned out. Things I never knew about the two of them. I would witness an Uncle I associate with golf, substitute a 9 iron for a 22 rifle & wander the woods in search of non-existent squirrels. A casualty of a “bad nut” season. (The squirrels should have witnessed us on the porch.)

As the afternoon set like the sun, funny stories of Country characters and their hijinks unfolded. It seemed that the only ones with names were my uncles Gene and Bill. He spun yarns of younger days and drunken escapades, People with names like “ Lavy and Camy Wallace”. Both named after popular soaps of the time. Other names like “Toughy” Dehaven, “Pooch” Phelps, “Big Mug” & “Little Mug”- The Mulligan kids, “Big Bud” & “Little Bud”, and of course a “Scooter” Davis, Thrown in for good measure. We Sat and laughed and my Mom & Aunt Patty giggled.

As the sun set we carried on over a pleasant dinner. My Aunt Carol lending balance when a truth might be bent. The country balance, “YIn &” Yang” and eastern philosophies don’t hold a candle to Aunt Carol’s balance of the Goggin boys.

In the background, “Buddy & “Fancy” howled with the Coyotes in the cool dark night. “City Kid” Stepped out to have a smoke and I joined in with the howling. The only light for miles seemed to be the moon over the pond. Inside, most of my favorite living loved ones were gathered around the kitchen table. The laughter of my Mom and Aunt carried out to join me in the cool night air. For the moment, I knew all was right with the world.

 “Fancy” licked my hand, and we continued to howl at the coyotes.



~ by onthedarkside on November 14, 2010.

2 Responses to “Country Comforts”

  1. I swear I smelled dry leaves and damp earth while reading this. Thank you for sharing your experience. Amazing how death jars us to make the trip long overdue.

  2. Kev, I feel the senses. The old groan of the porch. The cool of the evening moving in, the dew, and thw warmth of reconnecting with your “roots”. Glad you captured this moment. Nature and family blending into a whole being of its own. Well done, brother.

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