Here in the U.S. it’s Thanksgiving Day.
I am certainly thankful for those of you reading this, for your sustaining support of postings that I began while all but certain they would be short-lived, that I would not end up, three years down the road, wondering how I can keep coming up with anything when the discouragement remains chronic.
Today two painters came to do touch-up work at our house. We had a lot of laughs. One guy had been painting for 40 years; he was 56, and during this time he’d broken his back, his leg, his ankle, and had three knee operations.
He had done the original painting of the walls and baseboards, ceilings and trim. I thanked him, saying how we had talked about the terrific paint job that someone had done. He said how rare it is that he ever hears, “… ‘Thank you.’ And it means so much to me.”
No matter how bad it is, there are people like our painter, who respect and take pride in their craft, who get up and go to work, who, behind our scene, make our lives richer–and deserve not just a paycheck but our thanks.
The Man Who Loves Olives
Every day he goes to the store
at the end of his street and buys
a jar of olives. He pretends
they are from the south of France,
grown by a family who first planted
the trees just after the Romans had
cleared out, leaving the sun and the
light and the mistral. He imagines
the trees, twisted, full of gnarled
knots, rooted deeper than their
history. He knows how the trees,
even when broken, bent, cut back
to nothing but a sprig send
shoots back up into the hot, dry summer.
He knows how difficult it is to pick
a single olive, how they hold to the
tangle of branches, how the timing
has to be perfect or the lovely bitter
taste will fail. When he gets home,
he sits on his porch, twists off the cap,
picks out a single olive, black or green,
and drops it in his mouth, pausing,
letting the red clay in his imagination
open, letting the trees stand against
the wind. He bites down, smiles,
shudders, then pulls out another, the sun’s
light coming through his window,
the heat of the day rising like his past.
Published in Waymark — Voices of the Valley.
My pal Jeffrey Munroe’s hot new Reading Buechner is out and already a Best Seller! And it’s the Number 1 book in the country in literary criticism. He is a wonderful man. He is funny and bright. He knows his bourbon. There are many reasons to love him, and to love Buechner, so we recommend picking up both authors and settling in for a great winter read.
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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.
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