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Time Is A Wasting

Instead of just “holding April” as Jesse Stuart so joyfully advised, it seems it might be more fulfilling to declare, “hold the moment.”

Take loving hold of every month, week, day, hour of each passing year. Maybe that’s what Jesse intended to say although he had a special feeling about April. From his W-Hollow vantage point he might agree with a Plum Lick view of “holding now.”

As I approach my 80th birthday, I’m warmly advised by our Aunt Louie, who soon will be 90 years of age, to savor each tick of the clock, each snap and pop of the hearth of a life well-lived. This would be in the graceful time of the 80s.

I read in the softening voice of this quiet Mississippi lady that this is the time—the best of times—to give focus a better chance to flow more freely, giving faith more hope of flowering at the beginning of another year of growth and inspiration.

Sweltering days of summer are tomorrow’s piece of business. Yet even July and August are days to stop and smell the flowers born of those April showers.

The icy storms of this past January and February, and the whipping winds of another March, should have been times to consider matters of the sleeping, gardening heart.

My old friend Fred Wiche, were he here to go walking with me on his Shelby County farm, would probably agree and might have said, “Time is wasting, David.”

We would speak of tulips and tomatoes, pansies and potatoes, chrysanthemums, and visions of corn as high as the elephant’s eye.

And so it seems, with Jesse’s and Fred’s spirits hovering by, April is a likely time for one more fire for another warm Kentucky night. This is the season between spring and early summer. Aunt Louie advises from her easy chair of the 90s, not to be nibbled and eaten alive by which way friend and family winds decide to blow.

As I look back (but only briefly) at those teenage hormonal rushes, bracketed by those silly imperatives of the terrible twos and 20s, I believe I see some important connections in the course of growing up.

I remember boot camp at the San Diego Naval Training Center. Those were the heinous days of learning to pack a sea bag, washing clothes in cold water, making a bed (we called them racks) so a quarter would bounce up and be caught by the dreaded First Class Petty Officer, hanging the ditty bag without bitter ends in the closing cords.

The navy taught me the importance of time even if it meant (and usually did) hurrying up to wait. The worst thing of all was to stand on the dock of the bay and watch your ship sail off into the blue.

Okay, those were the days of discipline, having your shoes spit-shined, and your deck clean as the squeal of a bosun’s whistle.

“All ashore that’s going ashore!”

So, like so many others, sea bag slung over shoulder, I went for the last time to the quarterdeck, saluted, and said: “Permission to go ashore, Sir.”

Then began life as a writer.

With Jesse, Fred, and Aunt Louie to give me encouragement when I’ve most needed it, here I am on the back page of another April issue of Kentucky Living.

One of my goals is to read more: I recently took down my leather-bound copy of James Thurber’s The Thurber Carnival and laughed until I thought my ribs would break. I guess I wouldn’t mind going off into the sunset with these stories by my side.

Yet, no. I might want to re-read Jesse’s The Thread That Runs So True, James Still’s River of Earth, and Wendell Berry’s The Memory of Old Jack.

But before I consider books, I’ll be reading the spirit of Lalie, my wife, caregiver, and soul mate.

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