Excerpt from Chapter 13 of Naked Tao
Uncle Jim is fond of telling people he has everything he needs in his own back yard. He is most proud of a 1970’s style barbeque pit he built himself.Every evening the barbeque sends puffs of smoke into the sky as he grills burgers and sips cold beer. Its distinctive smell is a like a call to prayer for friends and neighbors, who heed the call religiously.
Folks wander in from all four corners of the neighborhood. Gathering around the grill, they talk about the day’s events and watch meat sizzle over hot coals. Later they sit in Adirondack chairs grouped under an ancient oak tree and watch the setting sun paint the clouds coral and blue. These are simple salt of the earth people sharing simple pleasures. There are no fences separating them. They move freely from yard to yard, house to house. It is a community in its truest sense.
As promised, Uncle Jim led us to the back yard where we settled into comfortable chairs and watched a squirrel gather acorns for the winter. Up and down the tree he went, never venturing onto the low hanging branch with the bug zapper. The distinctive sound of the zapper’s grim work was balanced by the refreshing sound of bubbling water coming from Harrods Creek bordering the rear of the property.
The creek deepens enough at its mouth to provide a safe haven to area boaters who like to idle and party before emptying into the Ohio River. However, at this location it looks more like a mountain stream as it runs white over large flat rocks. This familiar scene calmed my nerves and the day’s events began to feel surreal.
Uncle Jim disappeared into the house and then returned a few minutes later with tall glasses of Jim Beam and coke. He flashed his trademark confident smile and told Ginny it was for medicinal purposes only. She returned his smile, saying she could use all the medicine she could get.
Uncle Jim looked at me and winked. “Grant”, he said, “this one’s a keeper.”
Ginny beamed at Uncle Jim. I took another sip of the bourbon and relaxed into the scene playing out before me.
We sat quietly for a few minutes and listened to the evening’s sounds. It felt good to not talk for a while, but then Uncle Jim spoke up. It was the last thing I wanted to talk about, particularly in front of Ginny.
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