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Tin Washtubs and Hay Mows

April 26, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The kids were in the other room playing Twister, hollering out "Right foot, Blue!" and "Left hand, Red!" and the rain was coming down and rattling the storm drains. I was peeling apples for baked dumplings while Louis Jenkins read his poetry. He was talking about hockey and people keeping bears for pets and his life in Duluth and he seemed to sigh now and then as if he were remembering something he'd forgotten to include.

Years ago, an old man smoking a cigar on the steps of a country store where I went to buy cob corn told me the way he saw it was that men are like apples and women are like onions. I remember thinking, Watch it, Buddy. He went on to explain that both are good but when you slice an apple it's more the same all the way through, and you get layer upon layer when you slice an onion. Neither is better than the other, just different.

Now when Jerree Small sang it did seem there were layers in that sweet, strong voice. It was the kind of music that brings your life rushing back and you remember times you've said goodbye, knowing deep down it would be a long time, if ever, and you remember tin washtubs and hay mows and how it feels to run home during a spring storm. Made me wish there were a "rewind" button on my radio.

Rest assured, I've got respect for the wisdom of long life, but I think that old man on the country store steps was a bit off the mark. I'm thinking we've each got in us some apple and some onion, along with one good poem and a song that's not half bad. I've yet to write my poem, which I intend to do, and if life is fair which it isn't but let's pretend it is, somewhere along the way I'll get to sing my song, the one about blueberry picking on County Road 6. I'm not hoping for a spot on the radio, but if I can get the kids to sit and listen, I'll have myself a crowd.

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