Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

9:15 on a Saturday morning at Longleaf Preserve

How good this feels, to sit on the screened porch where I’ve been for a couple of hours drinking coffee, listening to the soft scrape of pen and hand moving across paper as Buck writes in his daily journal. He has not missed a day since he began. I love being out here, old dog stretched out on the scrap of carpet that we use for a foot wipe by the front door. I love it, despite the grass pollen that turns my nose into a dripping faucet and makes my eyes swell and itch.

Built 2000 (expanded 2005), at Longleaf Preserve, near Pensacola, FL

Built 2000 (expanded 2005), at Longleaf Preserve, near Pensacola, FL. I note the damaged pines, which means this photo was taken after Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004.

I just finished reading Natalie Goldberg’s book, Thunder and Lightning. Good, and some helpful insights. She lives somewhere around Santa Fe. Who knows? Maybe I’ll run into her when we’re there later this month. I impulsively signed up for a 6-weeks long on-line writing class called “Stop Thinking About It: Just Write.” The teacher is Susan Freeman. The first assignment is to write 200 words on the words “lunch hour.” I did, and am actually fairly pleased with the result. It’s about time, control, and living in the moment. I think it hangs together and is coherent. Finished it yesterday and am anxious to type, print, edit and send it on out along with the memo telling Susan a bit about myself that she requested of all the students (all five of us) and some notes on ideas I’m working on/thinking about at the moment.

I’ve never tried to write a description of a person or dialogue. How, for instance, does one describe a person such as friend and property “overseer,” Harold? I was thinking about that yesterday while Buck and I were sitting at the hexagonal glass-topped table on the screened porch eating our luscious breakfast of lightly nuked mixed berries on a whole grain waffle with a side of skim milk.  Hearing Harold’s pick-up truck door slam, I stepped inside to fetch him a cup of fresh hot coffee. He stepped into the screened porch with his typical, ludicrous greeting to Buck. “Hey, old man!” and to me, “Hey, Miss Beth!” He accepted the preferred New York-designed pseudo safari look mug with undisguised pleasure and made his way over to settle into a chair opposite us. I didn’t offer Harold a waffle or berries. He’s made it clear on previous occasions that he already ate breakfast — a real breakfast, mind you — one that will stick to your ribs: sausage, “aigs”, biscuits and cane syrup. “Naw sir, thanks for the coffee, Miss Beth, but you can keep that California bird food. Don’t you never feed yore man nothin’ good to eat?”

Buck says Harold is so fat because all that “stick to your ribs” food over the years has stuck to his ribs and just stayed there and built layer upon layer.

One thing, though. Harold is squat and fat, but his fat is not the loose, jiggly kind. It’s tight fat, or firm fat. I don’t know exactly what to call it.

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