Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Wednesday morning, almost 8 o’clock. Dark and cold here in the parlor, where I sit with laptop — makes a great space heater – headset on listening to a music CD I picked up before we left Pensacola and had forgotten about. Oh my, it’s pure fun. Lyle Lovett’s “My Baby Don’t Tolerate.”

“A friend of mine He said to me A skinny girl Is misery I shook my head Because I knew he couldn’t be right That’s when I thought back to just last night

When I got home
It was maybe a little late
There was n’er a crumb
On n’er a plate
There was no martini
Nor glass of grape
And it was then I sought to contemplate

Some things. . .
My baby don’t tolerate, no
My baby don’t tolerate, no
My baby don’t tolerate from me

I said, “Hello Honey,”
She said, “What could you possibly
Have been doing until

And not being completely insensitive
I could tell my ship had run aground
Because when I puckered up
You know she puckered down

Some things. . .
My baby don’t tolerate, no
My baby don’t tolerate, no
My baby don’t tolerate from me

Now a smaller more ordinary man
Might not appreciate the guidance
Of a good woman
Who truly loves him
He might drift and despair
During the ignorant, dumb misdoings
Of his dirty, daily existence

But that’s not me
No, yes sir’ree
I’m proof that true love will
Set you free

Some things. . . .
My baby don’t tolerate, no
My baby don’t tolerate, no
My baby don’t tolerate from me”

Lyle Lovett


We’re staying in a fantastic house called The Kennels. Back in the day, it was home to the keeper of Brodick Castle’s dogs and horses. The house itself has been upgraded, as a brochure might say, to a “very high standard.” It’s great, especially the huge bathtub. I’ve practically transformed myself into a prune with all the soaking. The tub is quite a bit longer than my 5 feet 4 ¼ inches, so I do have to stay awake. Either that or stay afloat.

The stables are unused now, but the original stalls and fittings are intact. Bags of coal for the fireplace are kept in one. A circular brass piece must be pushed until there is an audible click, then the original door swings open into a soft black quiet space, a couple of old horseshoes hanging on a post and a pile of ancient roof slates in one corner.

The low wall bordering the back gravel yard for the enclave of house and outbuildings is broken by stone steps leading to a grassy area which disappears into a woodsy path through the forest. Irresistible. A wild-growing hydrangea, ferns and ripe blackberries lead us for a few steps and then, like a light switch, the dense tree canopy plunges us into the darkness of a mature forest.

Buck’s natural compass tells him this is a shortcut to the Goatfell Mountain footpath. I’ve been his walking companion too many years now to doubt it. He knows things. Shoot. I can get lost driving to Tallahassee – and have. Buck, however, is an orienteering master. So I relax and enjoy the magical feeling woods, so soft beneath my feet, inhaling deeply. Oxygen therapy, mingled with healing herbs.

Shortly we emerge onto the Goatfell Mountain footpath. It’s a good rocky gravel path, noisy with the sounds of rushing streams and the ever-present wind. Lime green moss has covered many of the trees in this section of the path, and crimson mushrooms shaped like racket balls nestle at bracken’s edge. Hobbity, this place is!

We’re due at some friends’ home for an early dinner, and the the trek to Goatfell’s peak and back takes several more hours than we have on this day, so we go as far as the midpoint waterfall, then head back down, taking a detour around some other paths circumnavigating the castle. We stop for a late lunch of cheese on a whole meal bun at a bench overlooking the Firth of Clyde. We can see the large Caledonian MacBrayne ferry arriving from Ardrossan on the mainland. It is the island’s lifeline.

By the time we make it back to The Kennels, several hours and about eight miles have gone by, and there’s just time for another great soak and to dress for dinner.

I’m about to go into the kitchen and fix some extra-strength French press coffee and start to work on a cooking project for dinner with friends. Last year I brought over chile peppers and seasonings to make Machaca, a spicy beef dish, great with black beans, sour cream, guacamole, and corn bread. An encore was requested. The beef has been in a marinade of lime juice, pressed garlic, Worcestershire, Tabasco, chipoltle chile powder, and toasted cumin seeds since yesterday. This morning I’ll sear the meat, then add tomatoes, lots more garlic, jalapenos, onions and other good stuff, and just raise the roof

While that’s going on, I plan to wrap up in my shawl and read all day. Me and Lyle Lovett. I think we’ll invite Santana (the Shaman album), too. It’s got the right seasoning for today.

I’m sitting here laughing out loud. Feeling warm and bright. Thanks, Lyle.


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