BJ'S BLOG 02/22/16 "Something There Is"

February 22, 2016

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:

Something there is that is special about the smell of pine trees on a hot, dry, still day in the Deep South. As a 10-year-old boy, I had the joy of living on a very large farm in Tennessee where there was a long dirt road that led to a nearby lake, actually not a lake at all but a watering hole for the cows. It was, to be sure, no more than a hole dug in the dirt that was filled with water, sometimes by the rain, sometimes by some mysterious creek that would form and roll down the hill from the farm house, and sometimes, I suspect, by my grandfather. Surely no fish could survive there, but my grandfather had me believing that the mother of all catfish lived in this muddy hole, so there I would go. My fishing gear was a long stick with some twine and a bucket of worms. Alongside the road grew wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, an occasional apple tree, and other edibles provided uniquely and only by Mother Nature. In the deep thickets, mysterious creatures of the woods were hiding. It was an absolute certainty that the biggest catfish ever caught would be brought back to the farmhouse on that day. It didn’t matter that the catfish was the ugliest fish to ever swim in the water and that deep down inside I hoped to never pull one out of that hole in the ground, much less have to pull one off a hook. There was still no doubt this would be a banner day in the world of catfish catching (or with any luck at all, no caught fish, and the dream would be alive for tomorrow).

The farm belonged to my uncle and aunt on my mother's side, and my grandfather also lived there. He was probably around 90 at the time because he died at 98 when I was about 18. He lived in the basement of the farmhouse, a place he had made comfortable with blankets handwoven from the sheep’s wool and pillows made from burlap bags stuffed with chicken feathers. There was a huge fireplace that not only served to keep the basement warm but vented heat throughout the house. I remember him carrying over his shoulder large logs from the woods, cutting them into fireplace-size pieces and loading up the basement for the winter. My grandfather never saw a doctor and would sit on a stump and pull his own teeth. As I said, he lived to be a very healthy 98, and I sometimes think he would still be going strong, but it was time, and he had other things to do.
I treasure a true working man’s farm, especially in the Deep South in the late 1950's. Did you ever smell a barnyard filled with pigs, cows, sheep, horses, dogs, and chickens on any given blistering day? Did you ever catch the sweet smell of pine trees and honeysuckle?

It was long ago, but I’m sure the road is still as dusty, the sun still blazes down as hot, and bare feet still hurry to the cool water, bringing relief to the feet and fish to the pole. Something there is about such a day that lives fresh in the mind of the man that was once the boy walking on that dirt country road. Something there is that refuses to separate one from the other, the boy still walking down that road and the man simply standing to the side, not remembering but watching, as witness to the experience, keeping that juncture of time alive. Perhaps in that way life continues.

I wish I could find that place again and stand on the back porch of that farmhouse and smell those smells as the man of today and not the boy of yesterday. Something there is that is delightful about that thought.

In the podcast, there will be a few quick thoughts on the Grammy’s and a rock and roll timeline. Join me there on the shores of Rambling Harbor.