Buried treasure

Published 8:26 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I saw them lower that old man into the ground. It was a lovely service. His friends, what few were left, mingled at the graveside, dressed in stiff shirts, then retreated, like ocean waves, back into their own lives.

The green tent was taken down the next day, the flowers eventually faded, and he took his 6-by-10-foot place among his other silent comrades.

“Here lies ……..” was penciled into granite, a billboard to the living. The gray headstone contrasted nicely with the green grass. It looks nice, don’t you think?

There was much more that could have been carved into that stone, for buried there is:

* The memory of when this land had no paved roads and no electricity.

* How to choose a mule, break a mule, work a mule, cuss a mule and bury a mule.

* How to make a maul from a dogwood stump and a huckleberry tree.

* What it sounded like when the echo of the farm bell rolled across the land.

* The names of all the farms and all the fields that go with them. And if there was good soil there.

* Where not to drive in the Boone field after a 2-inch rain.

* How long to leave the hog in the scalding pot.

* How deep to plant a peanut in a dry May.

* The memory of a thousand October sunsets.

* What all the old folks around were like when they were 18.

* Hurricane Hazel.

* Where the first 100 bushel corn anywhere around was picked.

* What trees work best for a split-rail fence.

* The best way to pull a calf.

These, and a thousand other things, are all down there, wrapped in earth, entombed in soil, while on the surface, in the land of the living, its inhabitants pursue their quests. The cars whisk by, the planes leave their signature in the sky and mothers sing their lullaby.