The depths of winter. Now, there’s a descriptive phrase.
It describes both the weather and my reaction to it. Best to sit quietly by the fire, all toasty warm, and think of what is good and real and lasting.
As I stare into the dancing flames, I reflect on 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, candlelight, a tight spiral, shined shoes, warm cashews, cool pillows, the smell of the air after an electrical storm.
Cold chocolate milk, the crack of a bat on a solid hit, family Bibles, Shalimar, starched shirts, cookies, any kind of cookies, barber shops, a newborn’s fingernails.
Bed sheets on a clothesline drying in the sun, the cedar smell of pencil sharpeners, the heft of a Louisville Slugger, girls in oversize hockey jerseys, khakis, popsicles with two sticks, feisty hummingbirds.
Old Weejuns, the tang of Hoppe’s No. 9 gun solvent, the elusive green flash at sunset, sucking nectar from honeysuckle blossoms, shooting stars, strong coffee, dolphins and their perpetual grin.
Brown eggs, gun smoke, sweet southern tea, cilantro, especially on morning tacos, planes and cars and motorcycles that are sculptures in steel, single malt Scotch, cornbread, hot out of a cast iron skillet.
Blackberries right off the vine, the whiff of vanilla extract as it’s added to the recipe, handmade boots, the wavy lines on a Damascus blade, a banked fire, soup, oh my God, soup, the feel of old hand tools, Granny Smith apples, pullman sleeper compartments.
The way deer suddenly appear out of nowhere, chowder so thick it will hold a spoon upright, Appalachian patchwork quilts, mesquite fence posts, crisp bacon, hands with age spots, snapping beans into a bowl, well worn jeans, the wax and polish smell of new furniture.
Movie popcorn, cats, spoiled rotten, porch swings, un-tracked ski runs, fancy rifle stocks, lunch counters with swivel stools, my mama’s fried chicken.
The iridescence of rainbow trout, October, mountain cloggers, banjos, pie a-la-mode, spaghetti and fried meatballs, wild mountain streams, tumbling through rhododendrons, 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 gospel preachers on the radio, hot dogs all th’ way, high school annuals, small, well worn pocket knives, roadside diners with stainless steel furnishings, a field of bluebonnets.
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 shiny coats, thick black manes, 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, soft wind in the pines.
Abandoned horse-drawn farm implements rusting in a back pasture, cast iron skillets, the promise of distant thunder on a sultry summer afternoon, a glass of cold water after ice cream, tiger lilies, growing wild by the side of the road.
Short-bed pickups, leaf peeping, grandfather clocks, Snickers, eggnog laced with spiced rum, broiled redfish, chinquapins, family photo albums, Buck folding knives passed down through generations.
And above all, holding it all together and making everything worthwhile, the love of a good woman who knows me and lets me hang me around in spite of it.
INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS WEEK: Feb. 11 - White T-Shirt Day; 13th - Ger A New Name Day. Enjoy.
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.