I would be calling him this morning. talking about the cool weather, and where to buy a cord of wood for the fireplace. I would hear about what birds he was seeing in the yard- whether the woodpecker was back in the pecan this year.
Or maybe I’d call and the reception would be choppy— I’d know he was in the woods somewhere. Or on a sandbar, with his deck shoes pushed up next to the campfire, frying bacon and boiling water for another cup of coffee. His reach for the phone would have startled the dogs awake - only dogs exhausted by the excitements of camping can sleep in the presence of bacon.
He would say “Hello Hello!” and I would ask if he’d caught anything.
Or he would be standing at the sink, looking into the backyard, telling Shawn he knew they should cut back the jasmine by the kitchen window, but he just couldn’t bear to yet — it smelled so sweet in the mornings.
Or he would say “I just can’t hear you right now Anne! Let me call you when we’re back in the slip!” and I would hear the roar and know he was out on lake sabine, tacking back and forth into the wind, terrifying whoever he’d convinced to go out with him on a too-windy-for-sailing day. I would hang up and wonder if he’d just called me by the wrong name (50/50 chance of that) or if he was actually going to call Anne back later and surprise her. Or if he’d lose his phone to spray again and I’d get a call from Shawn’s cell the next day.
Or I would be asking what he was planting, asking when I should start the collard green seeds he gave me. I would already have looked it up on the internet, but I would ask him anyway. I would tell him about a new recipe for dilly beans I’d seen, and he would tell me about the all mayhaws they’d gotten out of Bird’s Eye Lake this year. I would hang up and open the last jar of mayhaw preserves from 2012, knowing I’d get a shelf full of new jars for Christmas.
He would say, so un-pressingly, “Are you guys thinking about coming down for a visit sometime soon? I sure would love to take Ben on a walk in the woods.”
And I would say “Well i don’t know Dad. school just started and we’ve got a lot going on — tumbling classes and dinner groups and girl scouts… I just started my new job! And it seems like everyone’s getting a runny nose. maybe it’s the first fall cold… it might be a while before we can get away. But we sure would love to see you guys. We'll be down there next month for sure.”