Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Road to Mulberry

East of Beulah’s fruit and vegetable stand, just before the big bend in the road that leads to Mulberry, Obie has parked his rust-scabbed flatbed truck a few feet off the shoulder, under the canopy of a clump of massive live oaks. I saw him there, leaning against the tail of the bed, talking with another man. Teetering on the bed’s edge were what appeared to be onions, the large sweet onions that grow at the perimeter of the strawberry fields. We call them Strawberry Onions. They are the best in the world, in my opinion. Better than Vidalia or Walla Walla or Texas 1015 or any of the others, and I have tried most. My mouth reacted and filled with saliva. I was no better than Pavlov’s dog.

I pulled over and discovered that Obie was selling turnips, not onions. “No good onions till spring,” he informed me. The other man, like Obie, in his mid-seventies, at least, looks me over good and says, “Where you from?” Obie says, “You leave this man alone! He is young enough to kick yo ass, Leroy.” They do some verbal jousting and Leroy turns his attention back to me and I tell him I am from the Lithia area. “So, you a money bags, right?” Obie tells Leroy it ain’t none of his damn business whether I am a money bags or not. They argue again, Leroy explaining that he is just being friendly. “So, you know the last road yonder,” he points westward to where I came from. “You take that to the dead end and turn left. I don’t remember the road name, but when you turn left you go to Jap Tucker Road and turn right. You know where I’m talking?”  I shook my head yes. He continued, “After you turn onto Jap Tucker you look left and there is a man, Able, he has a stand there. He has onions. Good onions. All the time. See, Obie, you old mule, I was just telling this man where to get onions.” 

Obie was taking swigs from a bottle, wrapped tightly inside a brown paperbag. Even from a few feet away I could smell the rum. At 9:30 in the morning. Leroy reached in the the drivers window of the car, lifts out a styrofoam cup, looks in it, blows out the dust and holds it in front of Obie. “Kiss my ass, Leroy!” Leroy says he just might, if he gets enough of that rum. Obie pours some into the cup. Leroy looks into the cup, “Cheap-ass! Give me a little more.” Obie does. A car goes by and honks. Obie slowly lifts his arm, with the bag in his hand, makes a wagging motion. Leroy nods, imperceptibly, like the driver could see a motion that small. “Who that?” Obie glares at him, “Dumb ass. No more for you. That was Beulah’s boy. How many times you seen and talked with that boy? You going blind. Old drunk.”   

The two of them stare at the treeline on the other side of the road, silent for the first time since I stopped. Leroy backs up, leans his rear against the side of his car, gulps down the last drink of rum. Obie reaches over and pours more into the cup. I grab a bunch of turnips, hand Obie four dollars. Leroy says, “Tell Able I’ll be by, directly.” Obie glances at him, “He ain’t got rum.” Leroy replies, “No, he be a gin man, but he got good onions. For sure.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

So often I am asked about my ranch or farm or acreage. I do not own any of those, but the readers accept my words as reality. The following poem was born when we found this shovel near the sidewalk, while walking.

Today at the Ranch

What is it inside the imagination
that keeps surprising us
                         --Charles Wright

9:00 am

I have found a shovel.
The handle is broken,
there is a small crack
in its throat. But it is
still good in structure
and could be repaired
for use in your garden
or your yard. Perhaps
it could scoop fallen
leaves of magnificent
color, or snow bland
beyond all description.
Who wants this shovel
someone pitched from
a car or truck, into my
pasture, where the cows
eye it with fear and wild
animals smell the danger
of man. Who would like
to take this shovel, make
it whole and usable again?


Who will buy this goat
with a face like a sage
and a mellow voice
that beckons the early
evening? Will someone
take this fine animal
and let her see what lies
beyond the wire fence
that butts tightly against
the wood water trough?
She is only familiar
with the ground in a pen
found at the southeastern
corner of the northern
half of  a section of land.
She is most ignorant
of wars and the actions
of politicians eager
to make her life better.
She merely seeks to be
a goat free of bondage.

3:00 pm

A rusty scythe crusted
with more than forty
years of chaff and dust
is this day recovered
from beneath the rubble
of a collapsing tin shed.
Its corroded blade once
sliced through ripe grain
used to make the bread
which fed the family.
Then out of the ground
or down from the sky
its sharp inner curve
came cloaked in silence
to reap the gift of God.
It became the symbol
of all things non grata.
Accept this implement,
for past indiscretions
often are by the hands
of others, not ourselves.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Corkscrew

There came today a warm rain, not the first rain of the season, but the first that did not drench with a chill. It was worth standing in and absorbing, as though it was a slow wash of nutrients for the body and mind, one in which it was impossible to not turn up the face, close the eyes and, for a few seconds, have an empty mind. Then I thought of San Carlos de Valle, nestled in the crevice between two small ranges of hills, in Castile-La Mancha. It was July when I was there, dry and hot, climate the vineyard owners love. The earthly palette of the place seems to be loaded with three colors, sky, tan fields and green vines, but those are a pleasing backdrop for this small town. It is a typical place for the area, narrow streets lined by thin sidewalks and flat-faced buildings adorned, here and there, with wrought iron on the windows or doors. There are many wooden gates hiding patches of gardens or grass in courtyards only a few feet wide and long. I arrived from the south, from Valdepenas. Coasting down the road between the two hills brought a self-created wind to my body, but I thought, as I picked up speed, how I missed the rain, how I wanted to be pelted by large drops at that very moment, along that road hot as a soldering iron. The ride down was too short; I  needed a rest and found a small cafe just inside the south end of town, with views of the hills in one direction, and the narrow street lorded over by the massive towers of the church in the other. I slid my backpack from my shoulders and sat in one of the chairs, shaded by a large tile-roofed overhang. The waitress, maybe in her thirties, walked over instantly and before I could say anything she said, “I speak English.” I smiled, unable to reply because I was stunned by perfection of the woman’s features and skin. She wore no make-up, not even for the eyes, nothing to ruin what she was given naturally. I was embarrassed slightly by my staring, which was odd at that point in my life. I usually would have considered a woman of that age old, ready to retire. Finally, my parched and nervous voice came, “Just something to refresh me. A drink. A wine, I guess.”  She told me her name was Marina, with a soft tone that matched the luscious look, and she would soon return with the perfect solution for my dilemma. She went inside and I opened the backpack, removed my tablet and wrote a few words, triggers to remind of what I wanted write on more extensively later. Marina returned, flowing and quietly, with a glass of red. It was chilled. “Rosado. For the weary wanderer.“  She glanced at my tablet and asked if I was a writer.  With the glass at my lips I answered, “Kind of. At times.” The wine was better than rain, the cool of it soothed my tongue, mouth, throat and body with the first sip. “You know Hemingway?” I was not sure if she was serious when she asked and she gave no expression to help me. “No. I was seven when he died.” Marina laughed in a melodious and moist tone, “I will bring you another, when I see you are finished. Do not take long. Ernest.”  Her hand brushed my shoulder, in a show of humor. I sipped and scribbled more words and sentences. I did not hear her behind me until she placed a bottle of the chilled Rosado on the table, along with a corkscrew, one with a gnarly handle of reddish root or wood. Then, she sat across from me, not looking my way, but at the hills. Her hair was shiny and black and vibrant, not what I would expect to find in a place like San Carlos during its harshest season. It was shoulder length, pulled back and held with a silver clasp, maybe three or four inches long. With her right hand she took some strands and smoothed them between her index finger and thumb. The strands fell onto the top of her shoulder. Na├»ve and young, I fumbled for words, “You have beautiful hair.”  It was the best I could offer. She did not turn toward me, just continued to stare at the hills, “I love the rain. Often it arrives from over these hills. It feels good, warm, even in the hot of summer days. But it is so rare now. When it comes I collect it in the barrels in our courtyard and use the sweet water for my hair.” She gently collected the same stands and let them slide through her touch.  “My husband works at the vineyard. All the men in San Carlos work at one vinyard or the other. They are so busy being men that they forget they have women.” Marina turned her body and attention toward me, “But, I have my hair and the rain. When it comes.” With that she stood and smiled, “Please open the wine at your leisure.” She gently touched the corkscrew and added, “You may keep this. I bought it in Toledo. When I came out of the small shop it started raining. I stood in the rain, without an umbrella. You are weary and it may bring rain for you during your trip. Or at another time when you need it.”  Then, she walked away and greeted a couple at another table. I opened the cool Rosado, drank another glass of its magic, then gave the bottle to the couple. The corkscrew brought no rain for ten days, but when it came she was as beautiful as Marina.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Colorado, August 2012

If I were a magpie I would certainly fly, away from the man with the stone-brown tan, away from the man with the camera.  

Black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia)

 A rose is a rose along any road.

Across the flat, in brights and blacks, we took in late morning hues in a ramshackle shed sown together with threads, holding implements not often used.

I found love in Loveland. It appeared behind the window of a small restaurant at the corner of Cleveland and Fourth, in shapely form and sipping a cold drink on a blistering day. I waited until love glanced and smiled, then went in for lunch.

It is a place where something intriguing always seems to be on the horizon.

added 9/8/2012

 At the edge of a vast field, which was the beginning of rattlesnake country, I happened upon two small dogs. They were thirsty and I gave them water. Then they wanted to follow me into the hazardous place. I took from my pocket a small red globe and placed the dogs in it for their safety. I was able to see where they two lived and took them there later.

 The season for growing is short, one has to race the birds and bees to get the best fruit.

 I think I could live along the St. Vrain, with its daffodils in spring and summertime flow of melted snow draining from cold elevations.

Loneliness is only a spit away, depending on the speed of the wind.

added 9/11

 Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Black bear (Ursus americanus)

Nature is repairing the fire damage in Poudre canyon quickly.I was surprised at how the fire destroyed small pockets of areas, sometimes only a couple acres, then left the next acreage untouched. We did not get into the areas that were total loss.

The banks of the Poudre river were generously littered with charred debris, nearly weightless and easy to crush into powder.