Breakfast chicken is rather manly. Go to the store about 9:30, when the dew is still burning off the grass. Community Coffee, a fried breast and leg, nice and beautiful and crispy. Spread it out on the toolbox of the truck on a white paper sack with Jo-Jo potatoes, ketchup, ranch dressing, paper packets of pepper and salt.
First, there’s limestone gravel to be spread. Heavy, chalky shovelfuls, billowing dust like powdered sugar. Scraping and clinking against the shovel, filling in the seams left by heavy rain. Throw a scoop high and watch it skitter clean and white across the old rocks. Stomp it down and pile on more.
It takes a while, and tightens even the muscles in your face.
Homemade sweet tea in a plastic, gallon milk jug submerged in a cooler. Take it down in huge, unhealthy slugs, your Adam’s apple bobbing, head titled back and eyes closed tight like a doctor’s setting your bone.
Now a little time in the shade, the sweat on your shirt is cool in the rising, late morning breeze. Put on some Dwight Yoakam. Lie on the tailgate and eat the Hershey bar you’ve had resting on the ice.
Leather gloves, orange-tinted safety goggles, the oddly appetizing smell of burning chain-saw oil. Cut back just the outer scruff of the blessed forest, the cushion between you and your closest neighbor.
You’re covered in sawdust. It’s in your hair, your beard, your ears. You smell like your father, and when you see your face in the side mirror of the truck, thick mustache and crimson cheeks, chest hair showing over the sagging neck of your T-shirt, you realize, as if for the first time, you look like him, too.
Take the truck back, return on the tractor, two heavy bags of garbage riding on the Bush Hog. Tilt the plastic can over to pour out the water. Try to remember to bring the drill down and make a small hole in the bottom, next time.
The old Ford purrs like a big cat, dragging the blades over waist-high grass and small trees, chewing everything into trail mix.
Back to the shade, where Sugarland sounds like a church hymn, and sweet tea is like the holy nourishment of communion wine.
“Why don’t you stay,” Jennifer Nettles pleads, in that smoky, hick-beautiful voice. Pray with nature. Look up at the sky, muscles sore. Try to understand some small measure of Christ’s exhaustion.
Nothing is finer than to watch something you’ve planted grow. Hoe between the rows, careful around the young tomato stems. Turn over the soft soil you’ve been working for weeks. Take a coffee can full of Sevin dust and sprinkle it, through holes punched in the top, on the young leaves, delicacy of worms and rabbits.
Take the nozzle off the hose, lay the open end at the head of the garden, which you’ve cleverly started on the down-slope of a hill, and let the water run around the base of the plants.
The love of God is in the water. The life-giving blood of the earth, shed for us all. Run the hose over your head and suck in air as the cold water runs down your chest and back. Shake like a dog.
Bring the grill over by the garden and light it. Unfold the Coleman chair, upwind of the smoke. After a shower, slip on your flip-flops, look over your beautiful property, with the gorgeous scent of barbecued ribs floating over it, and give thanks to God for a place to live on this earth.
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holleyat (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal