5/18/2022
The Meaning Of the Apple Blossom

The single apple blossom floated out from under the small concrete bridge on which I was standing, staring down at the flowing creek water below.

I don’t know where the apple blossom came from, but I suspected it had somehow made its way from the small orchard next door to our small country bungalow and somehow gotten itself into the creek.

At any rate, it was in the creek now, caught up by the flow and was slowly making its way downstream past the old outhouse sitting on the creek bank behind the Fox family home.

The creek water was also catching the rays of the afternoon sun and when the water rippled over the rocks in the creek bed, the sunlight danced in a myriad of diamond-like flashes and reflections. It was a bit hypnotic but altogether romantic causing a lot of silent introspection.

Watching the apple blossom floating away like that, so seemingly aimlessly, was very comforting to me; very relaxing – making my mind wander like the water below the bridge was wandering.

All kinds of thoughts floated randomly through my head.

I don’t know why and I can never explain it, but one of those random thoughts was a memory … the memory of the time my pet cat shit down my leg when I had picked it up and squeezed it too hard.

Another memory was of the Fry brats who lived in a dilapidated old house pretty close to that small bridge on that country road. They were as poor as church mice and most of what they had to eat every day were bowls of cold cereal with milk from the nearby Frank farm … whenever they could get it.

I remembered the smell of Fry’s house … it was musky and dank and grimly moist … the odor of unwashed clothes and unclean bodies permeated the place … I think there were several of them all sleeping in the same bed together …not at all as pleasant as the orchard full of apple blossoms.

These were the days when I could freely eat the reddish blossoms from the thousands of red clover plants that abounded in the fields and yards of our remote country neighborhood in our mostly agricultural hometown. Red and white clover blossoms in season, fresh wild dandelions while yet young and tender, cooked in meat grease and served with meals. Wild blackberries growing in abundance along the old railroad tracks leading out-of-town past the old feed grinding mill.

The old feed grinding mill where the local farmers would take their harvested grain to be ground into food for their animals. The old feed grinding mill where the old man who had owned it hung himself from the rafters one spring day … Hung himself and was found swaying back and forth, his face frozen in a mask of death … found by his own teen aged son.

The creek where the apple blossom floated away was the same one where I found a small island in the middle of the water and dug a hole and buried a handful of pennies, hoping to come back some day in the future and find them again …. which i never did.

The apple blossom that fell off the old apple tree in the same orchard, long abandoned but still producing fruit, where some of the local kids held a pet show one day and refused to let me enter my dog. Some of those kids were evil. They would eat my candy when I had any to share. They would be my friends as long as the candy held out but when the candy was gone, the kids were gone too. They would be my friends as long as they were playing with my toys too … but after they had broken my toys, they would go their separate ways again. Nasty, evil, selfish damned brats as I recall.

But I would give a lot to see them again if only I could.

I am sure they are all dead now. It has been so long ago that they must surely all be dead and buried by now. I know that this one kid, a kid who I shall call “Tacky Jack” is dead for sure. He is the one who used to throw rocks at me when I was a small kid. Then when I got to be a bigger kid, he was the one who took me into the attic of their old garage and tried to teach me the facts of life. Later he became a soldier, like the rest of his brothers. After he was a soldier, he became a drunk, also like the rest of his brothers … and now he is dead like all the rest of his family.

I went back to that old town a few years ago and to my amazement, that same old unattended orchard was still there … still bearing fruit …Not much has changed …

But I never saw another apple blossom floating down that creek.

Under The Bridge

https://pixabay.com/photos/under-a-bridge-river-saxophone-597094/

The guy in this picture is playing a saxophone underneath a bridge by a stream.

The bridge that I spent time under as a child looked much the same as the one in this picture– It has the high arch and the ledge on which to walk underneath the arch.

My bridge was located over a wide shallow creek just outside the limits of the town in which I lived at the time.

My dad used to take me down there to fish for catfish in the pool at the other side of the bridge.

I hated fishing because I detested the feel of worms and putting one on a hook was disgusting to me. Much to my dad’s dismay, I never became much of a cat fisherman.

There were other things in that creek too …. there were water moccasin vipers and giant snapping turtles the size of garbage can lids that could snap a finger off in an instant if one was not careful when handling them.

One of the good things about being under the bridge was that in the hottest weather, it was cool and nice under there. I loved to hear my voice echo when I would shout under that bridge. The echo was quite pronounced.

My First Beer In 64 Years

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Suddenly and without warning, this morning, I got an overwhelming urge to go out to a store and purchase a can of beer. I had not put beer to my lips since I was in the Army National Guard, way back in the year 1958.

In 1958, I was in military uniform for the first time in my life and I was young and filled with yearning for adventure and for all the pleasures that Life had to offer to me. Beer was one of those pleasures — at least in our minds.

So, every weekend, my buddies and I would go down to the “Service Club” on our military base and we would buy 3.2-percent beer because that was the highest alcohol content we are allowed to purchase by law because of our young age back then and we would talk mindlessly for hours while slowly getting drunk on the cheap swill.

It seemed to us to be the “Manly” thing to do.

Another mark of “Manhood” among us young soldier trainees was to try to outdo each other in being loud and mouthy and aggressive, and to speak more and worse profanity than anyone else. The more brazenly profane we could speak, the more approval and admiration we received from our comrades-in-arms.

So today, for some unexplained reason, after 64 years, I went out and got a beer in a can, brought it home, opened it, poured a small amount into a 4-ounce glass and sipped.

Surprisingly, I found this particular can of beer to be much more tasteful and refreshing that I had imagined it would be.

That was my signal to pour the rest of the can down the sink.

I definitely do not need to become habituated to something like that after all these years. And I know full well how what starts out to be an occasional indulgence can easily turn into a habit.

Steak and Gravy

Photo by Alex Munsell and Free to use under the Unsplash License

Whenever Cousin Jeanette would come to visit with us from her palatial mansion in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, there was always one home-cooked meal that she dearly loved and that meal consisted of slow-roasted beef steak with creamy mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. By the way, folks, this has become one of my favorites also.

To make this entree, we always start with either a prime rib roast (If we are feeling particularly posh at the time or, when we are trending toward a leaner budget, we use a common butt roast.)

The idea is to roast it “Low and Slow” for at least 20 minutes per pound of meat, on a rack, in a roasting pan and to make sure there are plenty of savory seasonings on the meat and lots of garlic inserted in slits we have made with a knife into the meat.

The gravy we always use for this is au jus.

Sometimes I like to baste the roast in a good Merlot wine. It adds something that feels a little more upscale to my palate.

When we have guests for a dinner of this sort, I always wear my chef’s jacket and hat just for the dramatic effect. People tend to get a kick out of me all dressed up like that when I am cooking. Of course, I never cook anything unless it has that 5-star appeal because I do have a well-trained palate. I savor the subtle nuances of layers of flavors in any food I prepare. Using the best ingredients and the best techniques always results in a superior meal and I never settle for second best on anything.

Today we also brought home a new piece of sculpture and are using it as a conversation piece in our living room.

The sculpture is of a head that looks like either an ancient Roman figure or a Greek personage of some kind. We call it “Minerva” although we do not have a clue as to who it is supposed to represent. I can tell you that the damned thing is heavy … it feels like 50-pounds and it sits on a black onyx base and we purchased a nicely-carved Greek marble column for it to sit on. I do not know if the sculpture is authentic or if it is a reproduction of some kind. But if it is a reproduction then I can tell you that someone with a lot of skill made it. They even took the time to “Age” it so it looks really like a museum piece would be expected to look.

I like to rub the sculpture on the forehead and ask for favors. I know I am not supposed to indulge in idolatry, being a Christian myself, but it is kind of a private joke with me. Minerva is now fast becoming a regular part of our family …. a family that now consists of nobody but myself, two sons who live very remotely from me, and my dear friend and companion, Jim.

After having had some problems sleeping lately, I have been eating some magnesium gummies before retiring for the night and my sleep has improved a lot. Of course, before I popped the first of the gummies, I did talk to my personal physician about it. I never make any changes in my dietary routines without talking to my personal physician about it first and I recommend that everybody else do the same before they make any changes in their routines too.