Friday, December 28, 2012

Wisdom in a Cup

I swear sometimes she steeped wisdom in that cup. Sipping methodically as she listened to the conversation. Never judging, always hearing the story, as if only the truth was spoken. It would impart upon the story teller the need to be honest. No matter how painful.

I’m sure that cup was full the day Maggie, her only daughter, told her she was with child. 

Fragile china, the cup had held the heat of whatever was poured, much like Ann McCabe, a reminder that forgiveness and understanding sometimes need to be steeped. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Three Old, Wise, Men

They were far from the typical nuclear family in their day. And frankly, they didn’t care. What they cared about was that little girl. The three old men had taken on the duty of father, mother, disciplinarian. Carried with honor, they bore it together. And despite the sad turn of fate that brought them to rally around the child, there was much joy among them. 

Raised in the manner you would expect three men would. “No silly girl things.” Her words, not theirs. Ornery, perhaps crotchety to some, when it came to Jess, well, all bets were off. On that Christmas, when her small hand reached for the barn door to reveal her four hoofed present, I would be hard pressed to say who was more giddy, the little girl or three old, wise, men.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Purity and Richness

The spirit of the season lifts us all up each year. Whether we want it to or not, caught in the rush of the shoppers, the flush of a child’s cheek at the first glimpse of St. Nick, or the sound of laughter as snowballs from freshly fallen snow fly. All are caught up, lifted to the season, in our small town…except perhaps, for the Doc.

He hides it behind his supposed gruffness. Lets folks think it’s just his normal demeanor. But those of us who have lived around the old man long enough know that this season filled with the pure whiteness of new beginnings and the rich red of holiday happenings, well it’s not the norm. His white falls to a yellowed page and his red is one of loss. A secret lives on in him through every season, even this one. Maybe someday the purity, the richness will return…maybe.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Protecting the Light

As the fall sun dips low I’m reminded of the season years back, and the anguish it held. Seeing him sit there, baby in his arms, it warmed your heart and broke it all at the same time. That year was a nightmare and a blessing for that haggard soul. Like the early evening sky, the contrast was stark. There was as much darkness in those days as one could stand. Yet the child, like the sun reaching from the far horizon, shown a light of promise. The only light for many of us.  Now here she is home again, that light. And there’s a handful of folks standing watch, taking their turn, keeping her from the darkness. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Fury of the Flour

If heaven was a taste…if heaven had a smell…it would be Hannah’s rhubarb pie. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the taste of that pie. Saturday and Tuesday, the two days of the week when all can be set right with the world with one slice of pie from Hannah’s. Now if you’ve never had the experience of this local Gracier establishment’s pie, well let me explain.

Imagine a buttery crust, light as angel wings, followed by a shot of tartness just this side of shocking, and finally the sugary sweet calm that comes with just a hint of whip cream. Lord have mercy! 

Now don’t get me wrong, all her pies are worth waiting for. But in the case of the rhubarb, there’s something…I can’t put my finger on.  Perhaps it’s the tartness of that ornery old bird that is the secret ingredient. Keep that to yourself, I wouldn’t put it past her to hold back on my slice of heaven if she caught wind of my observation. 

Trust me, I've seen the fury of the flour.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sinners Can't be Choosers

Not one for formal prayer. I believe mind you. I just converse with God a little simpler than most. And plenty loud when need be. I’m not begrudging those who pass through the doors of their respective church. That fits them. I have what fits me. But when what they hear under the rafters doesn’t follow them into the street, doesn’t do much good…does it?

Jessica hasn’t crossed that threshold in a long time, at least from where I sit. But in the last few months, it seems to have called to her. Not the church, mind you, but perhaps the strength of those who pray within. Oh some folks find a grand difference between that faith and this belief. But when you bow your head, kneel, or raise your hands for an answer, it’s all to a higher power. 

The creak of that door signaled her arrival. It signals some pretty interesting arrivals at times. I always pray for those visitors. Sometimes that can be mighty hard to do. But sinners can’t be choosers. Can make the collar pretty tight  though.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Where there's smoke...

She had left the dance just before the exchange. The usual spark in her eyes had turned from mischief to flame, leaving behind enough heat to set those two off.

The sound of fist to gut is undeniable. I chose to let them have it out. They had danced around her like a couple of roosters for too long. A woman, and one as pretty and feisty as her is hard to come by.

The harvest moon glowed, lighting up the center ring. I thought he would take that Cassidy boy’s head off. But that well-mannered fellow sat Steven on his heels, in an exchange ending as quickly as it had begun. The oddest part was Steven, just standing in the dark, letting Matthew drive away. No one seemed to win, but it was clear, there had been a loss. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Attracting the Moth

Boys and dance floors are like oil and water, most times. But when a pretty girl enters the room fear of moving gracefully across the dance floor, in boots made for working, seems to fade. 

Now I’m not saying they suddenly become Fred Astaire, they might think they do. But to “that girl” they get the nerve up to ask, well, they are.

And it doesn’t matter the age. When a fella sees “that girl”…that one girl…and she catches him working on gaining his nerve…well the air between them is lightening across the sky, or in this case the dance floor.

The dress the McCabe girl came in tonight could cause a lightning strike. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not one of those get- ups that leave “nothing to the imagination”…just the opposite. And any red blooded man will tell you, that’s the trick. Stopped the young lawyer dead in his tracks. He didn’t know what hit him. Or, maybe he did.

The beauty of a true country girl is that their beauty radiates whether they are in a pair of Levi’s or dressed to the hilt for Sunday church. 

The difference being...the freedom they feel in that whirl across the floor and igniting the flame that attracts the moth.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Cow, by Any Other Name…

Those faces look as though you just interrupted some secret meeting. Intruded on some event that you weren’t invited to. Just like she’s done all her life, she sees past the indifference with those who would look down upon her and joins right in. These bovine, however don’t have the same sharp tongues of the herd she’s riled over the years. 

She feels right at home standing in that pasture, checking on them, conversing with those who tend them daily. Farmers around here accepted her almost immediately. It says something when someone trusts you with their livelihood. Says a lot about Dr. Jessica McCabe and the old man that raised her...a lot. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Peaceful, Serene, …Almost Untouched

The day they found him in the ravine it shattered the innocence of our town. We went to a place that no one dreamed. 

Whispers, accusations and the silence of the authorities did not help to quell the rumbling fear.

Shock turned to sadness when we woke to the news that Maggie had died. As if our little town needed another wound. Her baby survived and became the hope for Jonas and Ann. Salve to a raw hurt that would never quite heal. Truth be told that little one’s spirit carried many through some tough times. 

Kids play here now, people hike, some even bird watch. A veil of time pulled over this place, has now stirred with the wind of a tragic past. 

They say time heals all things…but a pain this deep sometimes goes within, festers, eats at the one who carries it. And, unknown to most, he carried the scars of more than one tragedy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Final Patina

The boots sit there a life unto themselves. And until she moves them they will stand guard, at the door. Many fences have felt their weight. Livestock lifted their heads to familiar steps. And a little girl knew them as the ride across the dance floor. Character graces the leather. And a character they carried for many years. 
His boots came to mind when watching the old priest rubbing his worn black book. It had carried him through life, just like Jonas’ boots. Both mellowed by tears, scarred by loss, and forged by burdens few saw. All said and done, love, a passion for what they believed in, graced the leather, a final patina. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Patience, Tenacity...and a Flock of Crows

Patience, that’s the best word to describe farming. Impatience, the second best word to describe farming. For days watching the stalks, grown from the golden seed, reach to the blue sky. Fickle is the rain, true is the sun, patient…and impatient is the farmer. They dance the waltz year after year. And despite how fast, or how slow, they return, year after year, filling life’s dance card. 

Dancing…that’s how the season ends and she’s home again this year…many wonder if she’ll come.

“Is she brave enough?” That’s what they are chirping at coffee each afternoon. 

Brave? Heck, it’s tenacity, that’s what gets her through, pure tenacity. It galls them, how she keeps going despite years of gossip.

I better be polishing my dress shoes, wouldn’t want to miss those birds eaten crow come Saturday night. 

Patience, tenacity, and a flock of crows…this should make for a good whirl on the dance floor.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Well Traveled

That road led everywhere and nowhere. Funny, how the tick of the clock changes your perspective. Dust, wind and the heat of an Indian summer becomes less of an irritation and more of a treasure when another season comes and you’re there to enjoy it.

This road has seen three of the McCabes come and go. 

A twister danced over it while time stood still. We all held our breath that day. 

How many vet calls have resulted in that Jeep or his old pickup kicking up a trail of country road smoke left hanging in the humid fall air, until well out of sight?

And it was the hardest road traveled the day she went home to the empty place.
Trips down this gravel path will continue. I just pray they will get easier with time. On goes the ticking of the clock…

Friday, August 31, 2012

Who am I to say

Matthew drives the same tractor his grandfather did. Fits him, just like the old man. He seems most at peace on that old thing. Like he’s almost conversing with him. I see he’s calling it a day, early. He saw the lights on in the distance. She’s surely there. But I don’t know if it’s where he needs to be. But who am I to say?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blame the Squirrel

The apples are ripe and the kids are just as guilty as the squirrels…or birds, if they aren’t picked in a timely fashion, one of the culprits will have that tree cleaned of its fruit. 

Two of the biggest apple thieves used to sit on that branch to the left. She and Steven would spend the good part of an afternoon, picking, eating, talking, and joking. Like cinnamon and sugar. Not that one was sweeter than the other. Hardly.  

Cinnamon and sugar… back to the issue at hand. The apples are ready. Sauce, pie, bread, or right off the tree.  Yes,… right off the tree…I’ll just blame it on the squirrel.

Friday, August 17, 2012

They Still Bloom

He lost her in the blink of an eye. The flowers, over thirty years old in that same spot, still bloom. They sow themselves each fall, independent, determined…just like her. Some years they are thick, some years shy in their display. But always there…just like her. As they wave in the wind I think of her smile...her warmth. No matter how long she has been gone...the memories, sometimes heavy, sometimes a wisp on the late summer breeze, always return. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Great Care Taken

Fresh out of the garden. Hannah prides herself on serving nothing but locally grown at the cafe. You wouldn’t dare suggest anything “out of the can”. The only thing more stubborn than that woman…I’ll have to think on that.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Slice and a Drink

Days like today beg for a slice and a drink of summer. Watermelon and lemonade fit the bill. Think I’ll go and find some. You should do the same. After all, it’s the first day of summer here in Gracier.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The more things change...

She wouldn’t have it any other way, and no one would blame her. But once it goes up, that sign will mark the ending and beginning. A good thing, that’s come out of something very bad. She’ll be at home in that barn. She’ll  get her feet under her. It’s where she feels most at home. And the McCabe girl could use that now. We all could.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Can you smell it?

It’s the peonies blooming like everything next to the Conrad’s. Patty Ann would settle for nothing less. Flowers wouldn’t dare not to bloom and stand up straight in her garden. I’m not belittling the effort, just noting….

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Proverbial" Worm...or Sugar Donut

The sky couldn’t be much bluer.  And  the square, well it has a life of its own this morning.  Caldwell’s  Bakery couldn’t open soon enough for the kids on summer break. Bikes parked next to the shop announced the changing of the early morning guard as the usual morning flock alighted, beaten by the early birds who caught the “proverbial  worm”… or sugar donut.

It’s interesting to observe how interruption of habit can throw off a day. The Caldwell girl seems the only one who never misses a beat. Even when she took over the shop after her folks died in the accident. For a small little thing she’s tough as nails. Still can worry a person though. 

I think I need a cinnamon roll.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


July 5, 2012
Welcome to Gracier! Haven’t heard of our small town…well… 

This all came about quite simply. People wanted to know more…some for the right reason, some because they’re just plain nosy. My task, or burden, is to keep things on the up and up. Perhaps share some wisdom, and more than anything, bring you to love, or at least enjoy Gracier as much as we the folks of this small town do. Why you’ll come to love or enjoy it is up to you.

If you are already familiar with our little community, you may find that little tidbit you’ve been looking for. New to Gracier? Well you can catch up simply by reading about our small town with big secrets. 

Through the seasons, through the secrets, in the midst of laughter and sadly some tears you’ll come to see…everyone is welcome in Gracier.