Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Talking with my Husband

I think I am blessed to in a marriage where we truly enjoy talking to each other. When I retired I wondered if we'd ever get bored with each other's company, and I am happy to report that so far that has not been the case.

The best thing about my husband, besides his sense of humor and his willingness to make breakfast most mornings, is his stories. He has such a good memory, and his childhood was so different from mine that I am endlessly fascinated and amazed by the stories he tells me.

Take this morning. There we were on the porch, both of us very tired from a busy, busy weekend. He'd gone with me Saturday to the Inland Waterways Festival where I was telling stories, then helped me re-stock our booths at the Antique Mall of Marietta before we took the evening sternwheeler cruise. We were late getting home; it was almost midnight before we got to bed. We were up early again Sunday, me to return to the festival for one more performance, and Larry to go with our son to pick up a hog we'd bought. I bought groceries on the way home so I was a tired puppy when I got here; he'd worked outside, got the hog, and had it in a trailer behind the truck, ready to go to the slaughterhouse.

This morning he was up and out early to deliver the hog (hams, bacons and more on the way soon!). I did pick-up-tidy-up, as the house got pretty cluttered as we ran in and out. Then we sat down with our coffee to watch the rain and talk.

The conversation turned to the eastern timber rattlesnake that had been killed a few miles away. As far as I know it's the first one sighted in our area in about 40 years; the last one was killed about a half mile from our home by a neighbor, in the 1970's. (I am not a fan of killing snakes unless they're threatening me or someone else, and in both of these instances that was the case.)

Larry hates snakes; where he grew up there were many, many copperheads. The area was rocky, with steep hills and plenty of forest. There were abandoned mines and slag piles at mine sites. The slag piles hold heat, and the snakes love a warm rock.

"I remember once I was out in the woods," he said this morning, " and I passed an abandoned mine. It was all caved in inside,and I could hear them, moving around in there. Rattlers, moving and shaking their rattles."

His words painted an instant, vivid image in my mind. Big snakes, in the half-light that filtered in through the brush-covered opening, coiling around and between the fallen stones, eyes glowing...it gave me chill bumps.

from NY Dept of Environmental Conversation's

This story reminded me of the tale of the man who would go up on the mountain every evening to practice his fiddle and drink because it annoyed people when he played. One day a rattlesnake slithered out from under a rock. It scared the man but he continued to play, and the snake started swaying to the music. The snake eventually left when the man stopped playing.

The man returned day after day, and more and more snakes came out to listen, swaying to the music. His playing improved; people down below began to comment on how good he sounded up there, the notes echoing off the cliffs.

One night maybe the man drank too much; maybe he stumbled and accidentally stepped on one of the snakes. Maybe that's what caused the snakes to turn on him, because when he didn't return the next morning and they went looking for him, they found him on the mountain, his fiddle still in his hand, covered in snake bites.

Talk about chill bumps! I have heard that this supposedly happened in West Virginia, but most people claim it happened at Fiddler's Rock, Tennessee. You can read that version on The Moonlit Road's site.

The other morning we were talking about Larry's elderly cousin, who can no longer drive and lives in a fairly remote place in the coalfields. Most of  the men in Larry's family were coal miners, so I assumed this cousin was as well.

"No," Larry said, "he never worked in the mines. He was a gravedigger."

"All his life??" I was amazed. I guess I knew someone had to do that job, but never gave it much thought.

"Yes, I guess he retired from it. He was digging graves back when they dug them by hand."

Now I need to talk to this cousin again. I can just imagine the stories he might have to tell.

And that reminded me of this photo, found in my grandmother's scrapbook. The scrapbook contained photos from around 1915 until 1925, as best I can tell. Who is this, where was she, what was this place? Although there is writing on the back, it's illegible so we'll never know. But oh, the stories one could spin around this image.

All of Larry's stories do not spark such dark thoughts! His tales of childhood escapades, like telling everyone he had been bear-hunting and almost caught a giant bear, or stories of hiding in the outhouse, about his pet crow and so many others are hilarious and make my tame townie childhood pale in comparison. I don't think this man will ever bore me.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Janet, said...

Larry does have some good stories, doesn't he? I hope yours about the fiddler isn't true. It gives me chills just imagining it happening.

Mac n' Janet said...

Interesting stories. My husband is one of 4 brothers and I'm one of 3 sisters so our growing up stories are always different.
I don't like snakes , as long as they stay away from the house we're pretty much live and let live, even the poisonous ones. But when they start hanging around the house they have to go.

Granny Sue said...

I'm with you, Janet! When they come to or, worse, inside the house, they're done. I figure they have the whole wide world to be in, they don't need my small footprint in it.

Comments by two Janets this morning :) Nice!

Bbj said...

Your husband has amazing stories also
One reason you have touched my heart-your blogs about losing your son-my son lost his at age 16! I don't know why we use
The term --LOST-

Bbj said...

My husband lost his son! Not my son
Good grief I am terrible at texting sometimes

Charlotte Spears said...

Your Larry is a lot like my Robin in the sense that they both love to tell stories of their growing up days. I know that my Robin will never bore me, either. Isn't it such a blessing to have such lively and interesting men in our lives?!?! PS: I love reading about all of your weekend adventures, too. That fresh hog meat sounds wonderful. Hope you are getting a good amount of bacon from it. Nothing better than fresh cured bacon.


It is indeed a blessing to have a husband to enjoy sitting with, talking with, having coffee with. A rare treasure. Hugs to you both. I miss R in so many ways but most of all I miss sitting and talking with him.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.
I'm with Larry. I hate snakes!!!

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