Tuesday, September 20th.
Living on a small farm in central Kentucky has both advantages and disadvantages.
There is a peaceful serenity here that allows one to revel in aloneness if that’s what one desires — and the moments of quiet reverie can help refresh a person from the rigors of the day.
But frankly, there are few rigors here to be overcome with introspection. And sometimes the solitude grates on a person, making one want to cry out for someone to talk to, for a few moments of congenial companionship.
But for the most part, I enjoy being alone, to read, to listen to my own preferences for music, or just to sit outside with a cup of coffee or tea and listen to the sounds of nature.
So I was quite surprised the day I heard a vehicle approaching along my graveled driveway and, as it came into view, didn’t recognize it as one of my neighbors who may occasionally drop by for a chat. Looking through the front window to see who was coming, I was even more startled to see Lionel Trane — affectionately known as L.T. — emerge from the dark blue Ford Taurus and come strolling rather casually toward the house as if it were an everyday occurrence.
I moved over to the door as he reached the front of the porch and opened it a split second before he raised his hand to ring the bell.
“L.T.,” I exclaimed, “what the hell are you doing here?”
“Good to see you too, Michael.” A sheepish grin crossed his lips.
“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way, L.T.,” I said as I pushed the screen door open and extended my hand to shake his.
“I know, Michael. I can imagine how much of a shock this is for you to see me visiting, considering that I usually contact you by letter.
“And, as you probably already suspect, I’m here on business and this time it’s so crucial that I couldn’t waste time going through the mails with their attendant response times.”
“Well, come on in. I’ve just made a fresh pot of coffee. Can I offer you some?”
“That sounds great. Black, no sugar.”
“I remember. And I think you’ll like this batch. I decided to make some Kona today so it should bring back memories of our Hawaiian adventures.”
“Some of which I’d prefer to forget, Michael. But the Kona sounds wonderful.”
“Have a seat. I’ll refresh mine as well and be right back.”
L.T. moved into the comfortably arranged living room and seated himself in a large upholstered lounge chair near the window.
When I returned to the room with two cups of coffee, the steam gently rising from each and dissipating quickly, I saw L.T. had ensconced himself in the chair directly opposite the one I always occupied when in the room. I couldn’t help but think he was so perceptive that he had noticed the somewhat worn appearance of the other chair and realized it was the one that I most often used and had refrained from sitting in it as a way of not infringing on my territory.
Setting the two cups on the low table between us, I began with small talk.
“So, L.T. how’re things with you? And what’s so urgent that you had to come here in person?”
“I hate to talk business right off the bat, Michael. Even though there is urgency as to why I’m here, I have to say I like your place. It’s nice and secluded. Beautiful countryside. And undoubtedly a good place to get to after your work.”
“Yeah, it’s always comforting to get back here and shed the rigors of an assignment.”
“You a farmer, too?” inquired L.T. “in addition to other things?”
“Oh, God, no. I have a neighbor who’s a real farmer. He takes care of nearly everything on the place and watches after it while I’m gone. In return, he gets a generous percentage of whatever the farm produces. I just usually sit around and watch him work.”
“Tough life,” injected L.T. with a friendly sneer.
“Well, it keeps me out of trouble. Most of the time.”
We were each sipping our coffees, assessing one another, and probably both of us judging the right time to get down to the reason that L.T. was sitting in my living room instead of safely billeted in some super-secure office somewhere, eavesdropping into other people’s business.