Last week two other couples joined us for a date night across the mountains. We travelled through the Shenandoah Valley on back roads past Mennonite farms with children playing ball in their front yards and women in kerchiefs and aprons forking hay out of the barns. We saw a man and his son washing and polishing three buggies in preparation for Sunday services and pants and dresses flapping from clothes-lines hooked high up on light poles. The air was soft with the last light of day and clouds piled up against the mountains that protected the wide valley. But, we didn’t drive fifty miles just to admire the scenery. We were on our way to a church supper. That’s what country folk do for fun.
After a great tenderloin dinner, we stopped at Walmart before heading home because it’s an unwritten rule that any trip over the mountains ends with a trip to pick up milk or bread or blue jeans, or whatever else we’ve run out of in the last week or two. Finally, just as a light drizzle began to fall, we drove home to the beat of windshield wipers and the sound of stories. All three men in the van grew up together and they spent the hour long trip home outdoing one another with tales from their childhoods. I envy them this shared memory of people and places. While lots of stories made us laugh, my favorite stories had to do with a fellow the guys called Carly. One story was about Carly and his old sow. One day she came into heat, so Carly fashioned a box and attached it to the three point hitch on his tractor. Then he loaded up his hog and headed to his neighbor’s farm where there was a willing boar. On his way there, Carly stopped at a friend’s house and they had a few drinks. Then, Carly crawled back on his tractor and drove on to the farm. When, he pulled up to the pig lot where the boar was waiting to breed his sow, she was gone. She got tired of waiting for him to finish his beer and jumped out and trotted back home.
Another Carly story was about the time Carly went hunting with friends. They were looking to kill a deer, but rather than bringing a rifle, Carly had brought along his old twelve gauge shotgun. One of his friends got to ribbing him about the shotgun and allowed as to how Carly couldn’t even hit the broad side of a barn with it. Carly laughed along with them and then told his friend to toss his cap in the air. The friend obliged, tossing his hat high in the air. All of the others watched expectantly as Carly pulled his gun up onto his shoulder and tracked the cap up into the sky. It reached the top of its arc and then began to fall. Carly tracked it all the way to the ground. Then he pulled the trigger and BLAM destroyed the cap where it lay. That was the last time his friends ever teased him about his gun.
By the time we finished laughing, we were safely home over the mountains.