As I sat completely frustrated that the internet was down a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me how much things have changed in just the past 30 years. I was at the shop. I was being productive. Answering emails, filing invoices, organizing and most importantly paying the bills. I was moving right along until suddenly the dreaded “No internet” message appears. *HUFF* Now what? I have got to get this done, I mean what am I supposed to do now?!?!?
My mind started wandering. I remember riding to town with my grandparents to pay bills. It never seemed strange at the time. We would travel here and there. They would go in, pay the bill and head to the next location. Now it seemed so foreign. What on earth do I do, where would I go? I gathered the bills and looked at them. Sure enough, as I figured out where each place was, they were all within walking distance. I could literally go out and PAY bills. I mean, who does that? Nevertheless, I remembered the basic principal so I was certain I could pull it off.
With my checkbook and bills in hand, I slipped on my tennis shoes and sat out to pay bills. I started down the street. The first thing I noticed was that the morning air was beautiful! I breathed deeply and was overjoyed to find we were getting a welcome break from the summer’s heat. Where should I go first? I started with the rent, the power bill, the water bill, the bank, the post office. It was so ENJOYABLE. I talked to a dozen people about various things. I didn’t rush, I didn’t say I was in a hurry. I asked people how they were and updated them on all things Alabama Sunshine. I saw a stray kitty. He was orange and wonderful. I talked to the lady that feeds him every day. He meowed and rolled at her feet although he stills shies away from human touch. She joked that I should take him. “he seems perfectly happy with you, I said smiling back at her.” She shared that he usually comes later in the day, but she was so glad he came early today because the homecoming parade later in the day was bound to scare him. I passed the flower shops and local clothing shops. All proudly announce upcoming showers for those getting married or having a baby. I talk to a person about a recent death in their family. I watch as the local female inmates decorate the streets with Fall décor. They do a WONDERFUL job. I say hello but somehow wish I had time to hear their stories.
My heart was smiling as I strolled back toward the shop. I decided, since I had extra time, to make a couple of extra laps through downtown. It was a truly enjoyable journey. I thought how blessed I am to live in a place where I could walk and pay bills. I connected with my fellow human beings. I didn’t stare blankly at a computer screen and furrow my brow at my dwindling bank account. In fact, I paid the bills without much worry at all. It was people I thought about as I headed back to the shop. Life and REAL people. It reminded me that some of the old ways were probably a pretty darn good idea. So, my advice to you is this. Step away from the computer. Take a walk. Talk to a human. It is completely refreshing and I almost forgot.
Somedays I forget how perfectly lovely it is to live in a small town. Walking to pay bills certainly reminded me of that.
Growing up in the south you become accustomed to all sorts of phrases. Whenever you are a fixin to do something you might go on over yonder before you start. Make sure when you get there ya’ll tell ya mama an ‘em hey before you travel on down the road a piece. It will take you by surprise at times if you happen upon a stranger that stares at you blankly when you proclaim yuns better head on in, there’s a bad cloud on hand!
It’s true, I figured out quickly, in farming that you will be confused many times. I imagine our adventure into farming must be like that of city folk from up north that move down here and can’t quite figure out what the heck we are talking about!
We are in the middle of another bountiful pepper harvest. It has been quite a trial with all the rain. We have fought fungus, pests and grass to a level I can’t explain this year. I mean, if grass were a weapon we would be witnessing the apocalypse!! Despite it all, we keep getting peppers galore.
In the middle of all the farm chaos, a remodel of the old farmhouse my grandparents lived in began. The farm is coming to life again. I have stopped many times to wonder what my grandparents would think about their little home place being turned into a bustling pepper farm. My grandmother was a housewife all the years I remember her. She cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner. She kept the home and fed my pony. A pony I had mostly for the reason that I was the only girl grandchild and I am sure I stated that I wanted one.
I remember spending the night at my grandparents many times. I would wake to the smell of bacon, eggs, biscuits and tomato gravy. Now tomato gravy is a science….. I am still trying to get it right #failsofar. We would eat breakfast and Grandma would gather a separate plate for the pony. I would follow her out to the pasture. Patty Pony, as she was affectionately known, would gladly greet us. My grandmother would talk to that pony and feed her biscuits, eggs, tomato gravy and cantaloupe! Now, as unbelievable as this sounds the pony loved it. Every morning I spent there as a child started that exact same way. Now you may ask me if that is a proper diet for a pony and I can tell you that it is NOT. However, nobody told Patty Pony that and she lived a long happy life.
My Grandmother filled my Grandfathers tea glass for him, fixed his plate and always cleaned up after the meal. I never thought to ask her if she wanted to do something else. If she did, she didn’t show it. She lovingly did the same chore as long as my Grandfather was alive. My Grandfather known to all us kids as “PA” was quite a character. You didn’t have to wonder what PA was thinking because it was coming out of his mouth in about 2.3 seconds. He was a veteran of the Army, a cabinet maker, a cattle farmer, gardener, a deacon in his church and a barber. Yes, I said a barber. In back of my grandparents’ house was a shop. In that shop, amongst the wood working tools sat a barber chair. Every Saturday morning a strange phenomenon would occur. Early every Saturday morning lines of trucks would start filing down the driveway. Men would drive to my Grandfather’s shop in search of a haircut.
Now to say my grandparents lived down the road a piece, is an understatement. It’s a place you are not going to happen upon. Nobody ever comes there by accident. If you drive down that driveway, you have gone to some effort and you intend to be there. I watched the haircut parade out the window. They arrived in trucks. My Grandfather would get up out of his chair and walk out to meet them. Now I never once remember PA advertising his “haircuts on Saturday” business. He had no facebook, no Instagram, not as much as text or a tweet. Nevertheless, they came. For several hours he would cut hair and the men would stay and talk. I witnessed this many times. I would quietly play and watch PA cut hair. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversations. Only that most of them revolved around community goings on or church. Now the best part was when the last haircut customer had gone. I would sit in the barber chair and spin! It was amazing. It had a hand pump on the side. What an amazing chair. A wonder to a small child. You could go up and down and spin around and around!
I never asked PA where he learned to cut hair. He always had a job he was working on. Cattle always needed tending to, the big gardens required constant maintenance and many people in the community still have “Victor cabinets” in their house. He was practical beyond measure and it was common to hear him use the phrase “There ain’t no sense in that” when he witnessed extravagance of any type.
I find myself thinking about him a lot lately. When everything is hitting the fan around us I often try to think what PA might say or do in a similar situation. We are going full steam ahead. Business is growing, peppers need picking and there are new bigger places we hope to take Alabama Sunshine in the near future. We hope you will join us as we travel down the road a piece into the future. Who knows, we might even learn to make tomato gravy!