There is a Special Bond Between Grandfathers and Grandsons

I think I know now why there can exist a special bond between grandfathers and their grandsons. I think it has to do with their perceptions of time. Somehow we in the middle have either forgotten or have become so world weary that the slowness of time seems like a long ago dream.

Einstein was the first to work out the math about time. He was able to mathematically prove something we all somehow already knew; that time is not a constant. I personally believe that time slows then speeds up and then slows again over the course of our lives.

I remember well the long days of my childhood when I had nothing more important to do than to sit on the porch with my grandfather and hear him tell the story about how a bee hive works or how to graft a branch onto an apple tree. He and my maternal grandmother were the only adults I knew who understood this slowness of time. They proved this by making time for me.

I remember riding my pony to the rock outcrop on top of the hill just to stand there and admire the view. I remember the feeling of freedom and the lack of responsibility that allowed me to draw those easy breaths. That feeling of freedom and the accompanying feeling that I really have nothing else I should be doing, haunts me.

The closest thing that I can find to it now is horseback riding. I notice that when I ride Picnic around Naples that I get a chance to talk to people, I mean really take time to talk to people I’ve known all my life. Its funny, but I believe people on horses are more approachable and riding the horse itself is a great conversation starter. When you are on a horse you realize that you eventually have to ride the horse back to where you started and that it will undoubtedly take about the same amount of time that took you to get there in the first place. As a result, time slows and the cadence of the horse sooths my thoughts. I allow them to drift to wholesome happy places.

Like the time my little brother, my cousin Rosanne and I found our selves bareback on the ponies unprotected from a sudden hailstorm in the middle of July. I myself was wearing only cut off jeans and the rain and hail pelted us as we ran the ponies to the nearest open barn about a quarter of a mile away. We sat atop those steaming ponies in Hennecke’s barn until the weather subsided. We were drenched and still smarting from the hail. We had to shout to one another so we could hear overtop the storm. Even though the skies had opened up and poured seemingly everything it could muster upon us, the sun still shone brightly and made the rain look like crystals.

We emerged from that barn into the bright sunshine to a world sparkling with newness. The cloud burst had scrubbed the entire world clean.

One summer I found an old salt shaker on one of my expeditions. I took it home and cleaned it up and put salt in it to carry in my pocket while I rode. I knew where all the local apple trees were. There was a big old one by the road near the Naples Bridge. There were several up Brush Creek beside my Uncle’s chicken coop. But the best one was up on Cob Fork beside an abandoned house that my parent’s once rented. The tart late apples tasted good with a sprinkling of salt. The uncomfortable bulge in my pocket and the teaspoon or so that fell out into my pocket was a small price to pay for my indulgence.

The ponies enjoyed the apples as much as we did. I still remember their slobber and the sounds they made as they bit into those apples.

My salt shaker also served me well on my forays to the garden. I recall one such visit in its entirety.

I stepped carefully through the maze of vines that lay like snakes in the sun. Just there I could see the red of a ripe tomato shielded from the sun by the dark leaves. It pulled easily from the plant as if yielding to me. The skin of the tomato was smooth and warm against my hands. I wiped the dirt off on the side of my worn cutoffs. I bit the skin of it and pulled it back before sprinkling it with my salt. My jaw gave me a welcome pang of anticipation as I raised it to my mouth. As I sank my teeth into it, the juice exploded and then ran down my chin. In that moment, my Cancer was in Orion, the cock had crowed for the third time, the planets were in alignment, and time stood still. All was right with the world.

If growing old means getting back to that place, I welcome it.

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