Yesterday afternoon, my neighbor and new friend, invited me to go with her to a 4th of July celebration at the Baptist Church in Hayneville. I’d ended up staying home from the lake outing and a good thing that was because Boo is having some gastric problems.
The first order of business was dinner–BBQ and potluck with what looked like a football-field-long spread of every kind of covered dish treat or dessert you could dream up. Then, the little children got to have a mini-parade. This is my favorite picture though all the children were delicious. This little one kept getting the sun in her eyes and I was just amused at how we grown ups decide what will be cool and fun for our children. Sometimes that works and sometimes not so much.
After the mini-parade we had a Singin’–a family from somewhere here in Alabama, the Kempters, that sings and performs mainly at churches, came in with fiddle, mandolin, base, cello, keyboard and guitar for a 4th of July Concert. They were good and they had the gym full of people clapping and stomping and singing; children sat with wonder in their eyes. Even this jaded, cynical city slicker was moved by their rendition of “I’ll Fly Away”. The strongest beverage offered last night was sweet tea. There were families, some of them 4 generation strong, gathered at folding tables singing and visiting and waiting with anticipation for the fireworks that came after the singing.
I don’t want to romanticize a place like this–I am sure there was all the heartbreak and brokeness and sin of humankind represented in that space last night. But I was grateful for the simplicity of the entertainment. I was in the midst of community. At the end of the night’s festivities I saw young men and old, women and some of the youth of the church, reach out into the veins and capillaries of the community to bring a group back in from the firework show to clean up, put away and put up. Nobody who was asked demurred. None of it was done in with drama. It just got done and I had the sense that people accept this as one aspect of communal living. Having come from a part of the country where the consumer model of faith is quite pervasive, I watched and learned.
Today, it’s back to work in the homestead. There was a bad storm in this part of the world right before we moved into the house and the front yard was pretty trashed–one tree fell and we had to get the worst of it removed professionally and there were quantities of limbs and small branches strewn in the grass. After picking up and carting off 6 wheel-barrow-fulls of debris, I was finally able to start mowing–and that work will continue through the weekend. But before I could get back to the mowing this morning, I had to do two things. First, I made some peach ice cream–have some company coming tomorrow evening.
Then I drove into Selma and bought a tractor. Yup. I bought a tractor. Sherod has been sorting through alternatives and found a really good deal through the Sears store in Selma. They won’t deliver it until the 28th, which is good. Sherod will be here that week and after giving it the inaugural ride, hopefully will teach me how to use it. Because pushing a land mower on this much lawn is hard work. I’m glad for the work now because it is such a novelty, because it brings me really close to this land that I have accepted responsibility for. I get to see where the lighting bugs live, and the molten skin of a snake, where the mockingbirds have their nests. But I suspect am going to be loving me a tractor before too long…