Say what you will about me, but this little You-tube video features the one and only, the man in black, the late and great, Johnny Cash. Everybody loves Johnny Cash, and Ray Charles. If you don't like Johnny Cash and Ray Charles well, there is something seriously amiss.
This video pretty much describes the way I was feeling yesterday but, forget about that. It is a masterpiece. One of the last great songs from Johnny Cash, it stands alone as a work of art, all its own.
I should probably tell you here that my roots come from bluegrass and old country music. And this takes me back to When the children gathered at twilight, catching fireflies in mason jars, with holes punched in the lids. Playing hides and seek, while the old folks sat on the porch and rocked, while some played, and some sang, the sweet sounds of the fiddle, the banjo, the mandolin, voices joined in country harmony.
Some songs were old gospels that we all knew, and old courting songs, some were special, just sweet sounding and sad, drifting in the air of sweet a summer's breeze.
Inside, the food laid out on the table, covered with a cloth, to keep the flies away, under the naked light bulb, hot and bright. The sweet taste of corn on the cob, dripping with butter, and sliced fresh tomatoes, red and ripe, dusted with salt, maybe a spoonful of green beans seasoned with fat back, or bacon, cooked slow, enough to feed a hungry child. Can't stay inside too long, as the itching will get you bad. From rolling around in weeds, making forts, and tunnels, and hideouts all day.
The bathrooms were outside, which is just as well, as all those dirty little bare feet left such tracks on the linoleum floor, new enough to still shine. Such a sweet escape, too short, too fleeting, visits that didn't last long enough.
We made friends so quick back then, fast friends in a day, and on through the evening hours. We looked forward to the trip to the swimming hole the next day, following the grownups down the shaded path, excitement building, until the older ones grabbed onto the rope, swinging out far and wide to drop with a splash in the cold dark waters of the Coal River.
The younger ones, knee deep in silt, plugging away to wade out where it wasn't too deep, until someone's Daddy decided it was time you took to swimming. Then, without warning, they grabbed you, tossed you, and threw you in the deep water. You either sank or swam, and we all decided to swim. Don't remember no one drowning. All the Daddies laughing, ready to swim and catch us if we floundered.
Where are they now? Some at Teays Hill, some at Cunningham, some, at Pleasant Hill, some far away, who never came home.
But, if you walk the hollers on a summer's eve, and listen, you still here the faint sounds of the banjo, the mandolin, and the high sweet laughter of children chasing lightening bugs, leaving golden specks in the palms of sweaty hands.