Bill Bouldin

Bill Bouldin

The depths of winter. Now, there’s a descriptive phrase.

It describes both the weather and my reaction to it. Best to sit by the fire, all toasty warm, and think of what is good and real and lasting. As I stare into the dancing flames, I think about what I have come to love in this life.

I list them in no particular order or purpose - just that I love them.

Long kisses - New animals; puppies, kittens, chicks, fawns – Dolphins – Candlelight - A tight spiral – Shined shoes – Warm cashews – Cool pillows – Ozone in the air after a thunderstorm.

Milk chocolate - The crack of a bat on a solid hit – Family bibles – Shalimar – Starched shirts – Cookies, any kind of cookies – Barber shops - A baby’s skin.

Bedsheets drying in the sun – The smell of pencil sharpeners - Louisville Sluggers - Girls in oversize hockey jerseys – Khakis – Popsicles with two sticks – Hummingbirds.

Old loafers – The tang of Hoppe’s No. 9 – The elusive green flash at sunset – Sucking nectar from honeysuckle blossoms – Shooting stars - Strong coffee.

Brown eggs – Gunsmoke – Sweet Southern tea – Cilantro, especially in the morning – Planes and cars that are sculptures in steel – Single malt Scotch - Hot cornbread.

Blackberries right off the vine – The smell of vanilla extract – Handmade boots – A sharp blade – A banked fire – Soup – The feel of old hand tools – Granny Smith apples.

The way deer suddenly appear out of nowhere – Chowder so thick it will hold a spoon upright – Patchwork quilts – Mesquite fence posts – Bacon – Hands with age spots snapping beans into a bowl – Well worn jeans – The smell of new furniture.

Movie popcorn – Cats, spoiled rotten – Porch swings – Untracked ski runs – Fancy rifle stocks – Diners - My mama’s fried chicken.

The iridescence of rainbow trout - October - Mountain cloggers – Banjos - Pie a la mode - Fried meatballs - Wild mountain streams - Monarch butterflies - Geese in formation – Waterfalls - Steamed crabs – An elk bugling in the morning.

Wood smoke hanging low in cold air - Large shaggy dogs – Talcum powder – Orange blossoms – Cereal in cold milk – Refrigerator art - Old-time preachers on the radio – Hot dogs, all th’ way – High school annuals.

Serrano peppers on scrambled eggs – Gardenias – Soy sauce - Chestnut turkey dressing – Sachets in her lingerie drawer - Being tired at the end of the day - Real Christmas trees – Bay horses with white stockings and a blaze.

Pepperoni pizza, double cheese – A full moon – Lightning bugs in a jar – Long, hot showers – New tires – Yucca blossoms – Wild turkeys, strutting – Wind in the pines.

Abandoned horse-drawn farm implements, rusting in a back pasture – Cast iron skillets – Distant thunder – A glass of cold water after ice cream – Tiger lilies.

Short-bed pickups – Leaf peeping - Grandfather clocks – Snickers – Eggnog laced with spiced rum – Broiled redfish – Chinquapins – Family photo albums – Buck knives.

And above all, holding everything together, the love of a good woman who knows me – and lets me hang me around in spite of it.

This column was first published by the News-Herald on Jan. 29, 2017

Bill Bouldin, a Virginian by birth and a Son of Texas by nature, is a former Air Force pilot and veteran journalist who has spent many tale-weaving years on the Texas-Mexico border.

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