On this day before the last day of 2009, I thank you, each and every one, for dropping in on the sparse communication here---next year will have more substance, more attention, as we start to populate Paxton, Mississippi, with some people we've all known---the schoolmates who grew up to be exactly who they were in fourth grade; the ones who blossomed and surprised us all, the old friends and neighbors who made us who we are and revel in our successes, weep for our pain.
Sis and I know these people, from our hearts, as we've lived with them and by them and down the road from them, and had dealings of all sorts with them in everyday things, in celebrations, in sorrows, in outrage and hilarity and comfort and travail. I think of them every day, those folks who are still alive in my heart and in my mind---old ladies of sweet, gentle Spirit like Miss Dovie, and the ones of sharp words and sour grimace; gentlemen of the hat-lifting sort, and those who sit heedless down to eat with John Deere caps shading their plates.
There's Mrs. P.T., who undressed in the beauty shop, and Mrs. Martindale, whose prize-winning dahlias were her reason to live. Miss Hazel of the drugstore, who married in her sixtieth year of maidenhood, and Mr. Pellum of the round-bellied, courtly Dickens sort, whose guinea hens and gold-crested chickens were coveted and prized around the county. There's Mr. Keene, whose talents at the Singer were the envy of seamstresses far and wide, and whose open-windowed Bach at the Hammond caused rough-dressed huntin' fishin' neighbors to pull up chairs on their lawns to drink in the music. There are the four Jenkins girls, whose glorious voices made your heart leap and your own voice exponentially better just by proximity.
Biddy, the long-feathered little rooster, who was raised indoors on hardwood floors and who invaded the neighbors' chicken yard to their distress, and cats and dawgs and a pet crane and a turtle bigger than a dinnerplate who lived in the kitchen of a quite nice family and went for walks down the block.
There are people and there are folks who live in Paxton---and I hope next year will start to bring the town to life and give them substance and voice. And if you're interested---we hope to see you in the New Year.
I hope you warm and well and happy as we turn this corner, this leaf, this calendar page to new and wonderful things.