jenny, jack and 21 from the road
Thought I'd make a run down the road to Whitehead to see the guys at the welding shop. Car would not start. Justin was across the road in the woods with chainsaw cutting a trail through the woods to drive his truck through. I thought I'd walk over there and find him, have him stop by on the way out and jump my battery. I was walking up the road when I saw Jesse's pickup stop by a gate to the meadow. He had brought his two girls and friend David Parsons with him. David is quite a good country singer. He made a self-produced album ten or more years ago and plays at places around the area from time to time, small places. He sings folk style with acoustic guitar. They had come to give the calf some worm medicine and to put something on it for lice. I welcomed them to the petting zoo. The girls asked if the donkeys were safe. I told them the donkeys would neither kick them nor bite them, but I had to add I can only really say they won't bite or kick me. I don't know about somebody else. I said the chances are good, very good, the donkeys won't be a problem. Jenny walked right up to Abby, who started petting on Jenny, who doesn't like being touched. Zoe, her sister, stayed back a little bit. Abby wants to be a vet and is interested in everything to do with the animals. She was right there with her daddy asking questions and getting good answers. She wanted to be in there as close as she could get. She watched Jesse wrestle the calf down to take charge of its head so he could put the medicine in its mouth. David put some solution on its back for lice.
david, zoe, abby, 21, jesse, jenny, jack
I used to be impressed by knowledge that had no practical application. Possibly, I learned the attitude from school, where if you're going to do something you have to be great, succeed, be famous, have wealth. By this time in my life, I'm more impressed by knowledge that is practical, knowledge you function by. In addition to the other. Jesse's knowledge I would have completely overlooked before I came to the mountains. He would have been just a redneck farm hand that never heard of Wallace Stevens or Robert Rauschenberg, drove a pickup and wore a ballcap, talked with a hillbilly whang, and didn't know nothin. Today I laugh, I mean ROFLMAO, at what I would have missed. At this time in my life, I look at what Jesse knows how to do, Justin too, and many others like them in these hills, my Tennessee ancestors, and I am stunned by the knowledge. I rode in the pickup with Jesse and Justin when we went to pick up Jenny. Driving a road with woods on both sides, one says, "There's a doe." Didn't even have to indicate direction, which side of the road, anything. The other saw it almost as immediately. I search the woods as fast as I can and never find it before we're gone from sight. Every time. I've never found a deer one of them spotted in the woods, and the other says, "A big'n," or, "I'd let that'n go for next year." I barely know what they're talking about. They talk hunting all the time. I've gained extensive hunting knowledge from them. Have even been in Bass, outside Charlotte, the Walmart of sporting goods. If they don't have it, it does not exist. Jesse is people that say to me, "I'm probably boring you to death," and I say, "No! No! Go on," when they're telling me about dragging a ten-pointer uphill all the way to the nearest place he could get with the truck. A buck the size of a donkey is heavy. When they tell hunting stories, the situation they had to drag it out from is part of the adventure.
david, 21 and jesse
I listen to their adventures hunting, racing, fighting, all of it, and love it as much as I love a good talk by somebody like Jane Goodall, a good reading by somebody like Robert Bly, a good show by somebody like Louise Nevelson, a good film by Krzysztof Kieslowski, good banjo pickin by Kyle Creed. I love hearing their hunting adventures. These are rugged men. I've walked over land with Justin he told me he dragged a buck out of a few weeks ago. It was a great distance, long uphills, a creek to cross. He took me in with him when he carried the parts in for his tree stand and ladder. I offered to carry something. No. He said it's a one man thing. You don't take in any more than you can carry yourself, because hunting is a solitary thing to do, mostly. They take their kids. Justin says Vada will have her first deer before she's five. She will. By the time she's in high school, she will be a foxy, stylish babe after her mama, will like to ride horses, bow hunt and she'll be able to fight a man. Justin and Crystal and I have talked many times about the world she is growing up into. Rape culture is bad in colleges now. By the time she's in Jr hi and high school, it will be there. It already is, but it will be far more pervasive in ten to fifteen years. She's going into martial arts training as soon as she's able, age 8, thereabouts. All of us want Vada able to defend herself from men. We know the world she's growing up into. Like Melvin, Jesse and I say, "Justin's gonna end up killin somebody over that young'un." I've known Justin all his life and he knows I love to hear his hunting stories, fishing stories, fighting stories, whacked out on drugs that would make your hair stick straight up to hear about stories. He knows I don't judge him, so he tells me like it is. These guys are wild. That's spelled W-I-L-D. They're armed at all times. And they're fun. Their kids love them like crazy. So do their women. Good people.
The word from Jesse today is hopeful for 23. He said the calf is not yet able to stand up, but it's energy is coming around. He said he poked it with a prodder and the back legs made an effort to stand up, but couldn't make it yet. That told him the calf was recovering and he would be bringing it back to the meadow in a day or two. For fun, I told him to tell 23 its friends are looking forward to it coming back. I say it. They are steers. Jenny was as curious about the proceedings around 21 as Abby was. She had to see everything. Curiosity is very much her nature. She sees something like a dog walking down the road long before Jack. Not long before, I had given them carrots across the fence. I gave Jack a good rubbing on the underside of his neck and under his jaw. He likes it, though not too much. Jenny, seeing me petting on Jack wanted me to rub her neck and she liked it. I've found she only lets me touch her after she's seen me rubbing on Jack. Then she wants me to touch her. It had not been fifteen minutes since I'd been petting on Jenny that Abby started petting her. Abby was good with Jenny. For quite awhile she acted like she didn't see Jenny, was just there observing. Jenny came closer, she reached out her hand, touched Jenny's nose, and that evolved into a petting. I thought: she'll make a good vet. Calf de-wormed, de-loused, and examined, it walked away as if unperturbed by the medicine, like this is what we're doing today. From there, they rode Jesse's pickup down the hill to my car, and I walked with Zoe. She asked about how the calf fell into the creek. At the car, jump cables out of the trunk hooked up to Jesse's truck, car started. Drove to Whitehead and back. The doors are working like nothing ever happened. The door I thought would never open again is working like before. The fasten seat belt light goes on and off according to habit.
jenny's turn for attention