Forgetting to Go Barefoot
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Forgetting to go barefoot.
John Crow is a dear friend of mine.
Billy Ray Caldwell referred me to him years and worries ago. I was looking for an accountant who was patient and wise.
I drove down to First Avenue, saw three doors- one at the front of the building, one on the side, and one at the back. They were all locked. I felt so dumb already: I was frustrated because I was scared of finding out that I had not filed the right way- or that I had claimed something that was not a deduction. I felt like I was going into confess my sins to my high school Headmaster.
The wooden planks of staircase stairs were ten feet wide. The railing was wide enough to slide down without getting your feet stuck in the spindles. The left side of the steps were shallowed out by the heavy heels of the Johnston and Murphys. And, I wondered if the stairs I climbed had ever expected a pair of high heeled shoes to be afraid to take her year’s work up to be taxed?
The closed 9 foot doors pulled open to 17 foot ceilings and tumbled brick walls and a reception desk with candy in a bowl.
I rang the silver teacher’s bell and did not get a piece of candy.
The receptionist was not really a receptionist. John Crow’s assistant played a lot of roles. And, one became being nice to a girl bringing her term paper to the teacher to be graded.
Over the years of the slow low voice that gave me advice, John became a mentor and a friend. We had a lot in common- we both had two eyes, one nose, two ears, a mouth, two arms, and a couple of legs with feet.
In the course of one hour a year, a friendship grew.
This past year, John lost his two dearest friends. Together, they had lived on a field of dogwoods 62 acres wide and rolling. They got the big house, and John got the log cabin with no heat or air until the end of the first winter.
Together, the three – man, wife, and friend- cleared trees, planted gardens, stocked a pond with fish for the snapping turtles to snap right on up in the first month, hand planed Poplar boards from Stewarts to line every floor, and laughed, and laughed, and drank one more glass of wine and ate one more piece of pie until it was time to go to bed, and John said good night and went on back to the log cabin that was cool for a bachelor but , probably , the one reason the right girl got away.
When John called to ask me to come out to walk the farm, I did not know whose heart hurt worse.
My family has sold three farms of life.
To grow up being scared that you’d step on another snake or not see your tadpoles grow into frogs is hard to not have. It BEs you. When the Bob Whites still bob white, and you wonder for their call, you wonder what it felt like again to walk summer hot barefoot on the grass that smelt like clay.
So. SO. So , you take a picnic of fried chicken, cole slaw, potato salad, and wine to your friend. And, you ask him if he’s ever had a picnic right there. Right there under the shade of trees that started small. And you wing out the too small holy blanket, and you leven it out on the ground and pour two scotch glasses of wine and ask him to tell you about the trees, and the fences, and the rocks that he and he and she smoothed out of the front field to foundation the strongest friendship of their lives.
And, you listen to him cry inside because this land is their land. And the land gave them a peace beyond understanding of onlookers to friendship.
The summer hot soil wraps around their feet like a blanket.
The blanket holds a picnic between two friends.
Kiss your babies, tell your parents you love them, and take a walk in the park with a friend-