My youngest is studying to be a chemist at Valdosta State and, accordingly, he did a home experiment last week in trying to develop his own brand of organic solvent. I haven’t quite figured out just what that is yet but at least now I know it when I smell it. Let me explain.
Every week we get packages from exotic places like Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam and this particular week from Cambodia. It was Acacia leaves, and Skeeter cooked them down in our kitchen, placed the liquid in a glass dish, put that in our big freezer, and promptly forgot about it. The following Friday, I went out to get a pack of corn and when I opened the freezer, the smell nearly knocked me down. The solvent had evaporated and the smell had permeated everything in the freezer. I mean everything. The frozen pizzas tasted like solvent, the deer sausage tasted like solvent, the hamburger, I mean everything. I was mad as fire at first but quickly realized that this might be the beginning of something big, a new discovery for mankind discovered by my baby boy, the budding chemist. So, staying my wrath and expecting a big payday in the future, I only asked Skeeter to refrain from any more experiments, if you please, without first consulting with me. He is the baby and I guess it’s true that you are always more tolerant of and treat the baby different, especially when you recognize genius and potential wealth creational behavior in the little tyke.
Sunday night is a lonely time at my house. It’s when Skeeter leaves out going back to Valdosta State for his next week’s classes. My only consolation is that I know that at precisely 2:30 p.m. the following Friday afternoon his little 09 Toyota Corolla will pull under the side shelter off the old wash house and he will drag his dirty laundry into the wash room and then lay down in the den to love on our dogs; Fox, the one eyed chocolate Lab and Jigabells, the mutt. In a way, it’s like he never left home and I relish this time when he is away but not so far away that I can’t feel his presence and knowing he will show up again almost before he left. I guess what I mean is that Skeeter is growing up, becoming a man, learning a vocation, beginning his life, and I know one day he won’t be so close, won’t be home every Friday afternoon, won’t be rolling in the floor with the dogs, and Momma and I won’t be worrying about what he will want for supper Friday night. So for now, being an older man and much wiser than I once was, I relish this time in my youngest son’s life.
This past weekend I had a trailer load of catfaces sawed up and waiting to be split for kindling. I pressed Skeeter into helping me split them because such a job is difficult for me what with all the back problems I have. I woke him up early Saturday morning, fixed us breakfast and off to the woodpile we went. I drove a wedge into a butt, handed Skeeter the eight pound sledgehammer and said “now you drive it on in and split the face.” He drew back, swung the sledge and promptly broke the handle clean off by striking over the wedge. I didn’t say a word. I just grabbed up an axe, gave a shout and with a mighty swing split the butt clean in half. Handing him the axe, and ever one to exult in a Biblical quote, I said, “Now, go and do thou likewise.”
I retreated a safe distance and sat in quiet repose under a live oak and watched as this young Einstein measured the distance to the fulcrum of his swing, did a quick calculation as to the square root of the force of his blow, figured the geometrical deviance of the grain of the wood, adjusted the angle of his attack, answered two text messages, and swung.
All I can say is I am glad I was a safe distance away and it is a good thing he is going into chemistry because it is evident to me that forestry ain’t his bag.
Alfred Lott’s True Value Hardware is going to have to stock up on hickory handles before the end of this season or else I’m putting in gas logs.