This weekend we traveled to a tiny town in the mountains of Kentucky to visit my wife's grandfather to celebrate his 87th birthday. He lives by himself since his wife died two years ago. He still works the land as a farmer. We had a wonderful time visiting with many relatives and enjoying the natural beauty of the beautiful mountains of Kentucky (and excellent food!).
One thing that struck me was how different it felt like to be sitting in the porch with the men all afternoon and evening. The setting was very traditional, with the men in the porch and the women in the kitchen. There is something very different from these men, ages 42 through 87, compared to the city people I hang out with. These men grew up in very poor settings, always working with their hands, either farming, cutting timber, or working as carpenters. We spent hours together telling stories. The stories were about squirrels, deer, turkey, hickory trees, this year's crops, whether green roofs fade faster than red roofs, birds like whippoorwill, and about friends and families. The Bible and Church were mentioned often. It was about observing life, and it was about telling a good story about any topic.
Everyone always politely listened to the story teller, and sincerely enjoyed the story. It felt peaceful and happy. There were times with long periods of silence, other than the sound of someone sharpening a knife. There was no TV. There was no alcohol. There was no snack food until dinner. The point was simply being with one another, and listening to stories. It is so different when I get together with men from the city. Everyone gathers by the TV, they make fun of each other, conversations are about TV advertisements or sports teams, or golf, and there is a constant sense of competition. I definitely don't feel the deep sincere joy I experienced this weekend, the joy found in the simple life.
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