When Sean was at Middle Tennessee State University and Chris was at Motlow State Community College, and when I was working in Tullahoma, there were many times when all of our busy schedules somehow managed to align, and on those occasions it gave us the opportunity to take time for long lunches together in the middle of the week.
When I had to get back to work fairly quickly we would pick one of the many restaurants right in town.
When we had more time the boys would pick the restaurant, and the choices they made were indicative of the different personalities and tastes of my boys.
Sean was drawn to trendy sit down restaurants like O Charlies, or Ruby Tuesdays or TGI Fridays.
Chris' taste ran a lot more informally, and it was more than once that we HAD to try a burger that was cooked at some random rural gas station that he had found in his travels.
Invariably they were always close to favorite fishing holes.
Tucked away on some back road outside of town that we reached after driving for 20 minutes on winding country roads.
We would grab our food and sit outside (inevitably on some kind of makeshift wooden picnic table under a tree and next to the parking lot), and we would laugh and talk and scarf down burgers before having to go our separate ways again.
That's as much looking back as I can do and so I will stop. Now. Because it hurts...............
After cutting wood one day last week I asked LC to stop at this gas station on the Blackfoot-Aberdeen Highway, so that we could buy an ice cream cone.
We had driven by this place a number of times over the previous weeks. Always in too much of a hurry to get to where we needed to be or in too much of a hurry to get home. Always blowing by and always thinking about something else.
On this day we stopped.
It was ridiculously, outrageously sunny and I asked LC to go head inside while I wandered around the outside of the store, slash restaurant, slash gas station, slash convenience store for a few minutes and took some pictures.
For the first time in what seemed like a couple of weeks, I could feel my heart rate slowing.
Even though the day was warm, the snow on the mountains that surrounded me was still there and it was still beautiful.
Everywhere I looked I could see mountains and signs that farmers were gearing up for spring.
Tractors were out. Men and their trucks were in fields and working on irrigation systems.
Getting ready for the canals that surround this area - getting ready for the time when the water will begin to run.
As hard work as this whole "wood thing" has been, I was also very glad that we had done it.
Because if not, we might not have found our way to this area for a long time.
We wouldn't have found all the wonderful and astoundingly huge farms.
The cows with babies that are beginning to dot the fields.
The endless snow covered mountains.
The numerous public access areas that will take us to water. Water - it's close. Closer than we realized, and if we hadn't decided to work our asses off cutting wood we wouldn't have found the back way to the outskirts of Aberdeen and found all the things we found.
Pictures taken while standing in the parking lot of the gas station...................
Turning away from fields and mountains, I smiled at the hokey and dated sign - All American Diner in patriotic red, white and blue.
Wandering behind the restaurant, I continued to see the red, white and blue theme, that was carried along to the car wash...............
As I headed back towards the restaurant I wondered where LC was.
He had headed inside to buy a couple of ice cream cones before we rushed home to unload the truck (that was filled-to-the-brim and up to the top of the home-made sideboards that LC had quickly put together) with wood.
I had expected him to be back outside by now.
Curious what was keeping him I walked inside, smiled when I saw LC, then looked around me, surprised.
As soon as I had walked through the door I had unexpectedly been thrown back into another era.
An era filled with hot rods and Marilyn and Lucy and James and chubby Campbell soup characters.
Posters, tin signs, framed pictures, diner booths and tables, and red checker board tiled floor.
The only thing missing was the jukebox.................
When I walked inside I quickly found LC leaning against a counter and looking closely at one of the many old tin vehicle signs.
He liked this place. I could tell. And immediately I liked this place as well.
Realizing just how hungry I was, I looked at the colorful menu items that were taped make-shift to a stand up sign.
Typical greasy-spoon food, the prices were very good, and my tired Mountain Boy and I decided that instead of eating ice-cream on the run we would instead sit down and eat greasy-spoon food.
It was great. And there was plenty of it..................
The high school is located right next door, and (not surprisingly) the restaurant is packed during lunch.
Later in the day I looked around me at the few people who were sitting at small tables and at small booths, and who were finishing up their meals, and I saw farm workers - dusty, hard working, already sun burned, farm workers.
I really liked this place................
After wrapping up one small piece of hamburger to take outside for Kory, we headed out to the truck.
45 minutes later we were home, and adding wood to the growing mountain of wood that was sitting in our back yard waiting to be split and stacked.................