Wrote this entire thing Sunday night along with the thing you might have read yesterday. I know already it’s going to be one of those weeks and I might not have a ton of evening time to write. I figure I should take advantage while the wheels are turning.
This year for Easter some friends of ours from church invited us to come eat with them at their folks’ place. Or, rather, their folks invited us to come eat at their place – one or the other. Their place is what we call “up the hill” around here; since we’re right at the feet of the foothills anything east qualifies. Easter Sunday was rainy, wet, windy when we set off up into the foothills following behind as neither of us had been there before. Half an hour or so later we wended our way around a few final wooded turns and climbed a steep driveway to stop in front of their place.
Oh man their place.
I was immediately transported back to my childhood. When we lived in Southern California my grandparents lived about an hour away on top of a mountain in a log home. No joke. A straight-up log cabin built from stacked timbers right out of a Lincoln Logs set. I used to love going to my grandparents’ place. It was quite literally “on top of a mountain,” and the inside was right out of a hunting lodge. Logs for walls, broad-mantled fireplaces made of rough-hewn rock and mortar, bearskin rugs, leather furniture, a poker table, and taxidermied animals at every turn. Looking back on it now, being a married homeowner myself, I can’t imagine what husband would have a wife accommodating enough to let him deck out a place with such testosterone. My grandfather, though, was a man’s man (for as much as I got to know him in my youth). A scholar, a hunter, a drinker, and an avid outdoorsman. He had that place appointed just how you’d imagine. Anyway, all this and more went through my head before I’d even stepped out of the car, just looking at their place.
Fashioned of logs thicker and lighter in color than those that comprised my grandparent’s place, it was similar enough from the outside to evoke memories. Stepping inside, however, sealed the deal. Three mounted antelopes, what looked to be a bobcat, two birds in still flight hanging from strings, and in the corner a massive detailed installation featuring two brown bears locked in a frozen fight over a deer carcass. The rugs, the furniture, the old-fashioned knick-knacks attached to the walls (they had farm tools, my grandfather had gold pans) – it was like stepping into a facsimile of their place. No, it wasn’t a perfect match; this place had more of a woman’s touch evident in the decor while my grandparents’ place, at least in my memory, was all man.
The inhabitants hearkened too… our friends, her dad, he reminded me of my own grandfather in some way. A man’s man for sure; felled every piece of game that now decorates his homestead. Maybe not anywhere near as outspoken or hedonistic (on some counts, I suppose) as my grandfather, and certainly more God-fearing than he – yet still there were certain similarities. The thing that cinched it, though, for me… was this past Sunday morning at church. One full week after we’d been over for Easter dinner and this man walks up to me in church, shakes my hand firmly, and says, “David; I have to apologize to you for that dry chicken I served last week. I left it on the grill too long.” I chuckled, a real laugh, and replied, “Aww don’t worry about it. I stuck to the drumsticks and they were actually fine.” “Yeah, well,” he went on, “I’m awful sorry it was so dry. I apologize.”
Only a real man’s man takes his barbecuing so seriously that he’d seek another man out in church a week later and make it a point to offer a heartfelt and truly ashamed-sounding apology for the dry chicken.