“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people,” wrote G. K. Chesterton.
And he’s right, you know.
I just returned from a few days with my three brothers at Robert Lee, Texas. For almost forty years, two times a year, we’ve met at our maternal grandparents’ old place there. For more than a few of those years, our dad was with us. Precious time. A precious place.
Granddaddy Key had that little house built in 1928, so it’s sneaking up on 100 years old. We’ve pitched in some TLC over the years, and during our time there last week, we tore pretty deeply into the front part of the house, replacing some windows and siding, applying some paint, etc. We also took appropriate breaks involving ribeyes, NY strips, a filet mignon or a few, and a couple of racks of smoked ribs. No green beans were harmed in any of the activities of the week.
Yes, we’ve spent a lot of time there—very good time—over the years, but my eyes have not run out of “items of interest.”
At least three layers of siding of various types and ages cover the exterior walls. The materials, patterns, and layers of old paint are . . . interesting.
The short wire fence in front of the house is the kind of “woven double loop decorative fence” that, at one time, I’m sure you could find setting off the yards and gardens of hundreds of thousands of homes. Its Art Deco style appeals to me, and 1928 is not a surprising year for it style-wise. It’s so iconic that it seems to be a fairly hot reproduction item now and is not hard to find. I do find myself wondering how much of the 100-year-old stuff is left. Maybe a lot. It was attractive in 1928 and still is (unlike—this opinion is free—almost any feature of buildings erected in the 1950s whose style might be simply described as 1950s Ugly).
And, speaking of fences, I’d like to know some history of the type of livestock pen fences—cedar branches held tightly together by twisted wire—that were a prime feature out back, near an old barn, a chicken coop, and, until it showed up on top of one memorable Robert Lee High School homecoming bonfire, an old outhouse.
A small pile of “cupped out” rocks near the bottom of one old cedar fencepost might be a mystery to some, but not to any of Grandmother’s offspring. She always had an eye out for rocks with significant “dimples” in them. For her, they were cactus planters. She’d fill them with little cacti, shelter them on the front porch, and water them with teaspoons. She’d occasionally share them with grandkids. (Granddaddy shared jars of rattlesnake rattles no longer needed by their owners.)
An Arizona cypress tree, a Bois d’Arc tree, a willow, and one old massive mesquite tree surrounded by lesser companions, all have stories to tell. And, in recent years, some soapberry trees (often confused with the much less desirable Chinaberry tree; that’s another story) are starting to provide better shade than we’d ever hoped. Those translucent yellow berries, aptly named, have a long history of being used as—you guessed it—a natural and efficient soap.
I like the old gate out behind the back door of the house. I still try to keep it closed when I head out to the “patch” and the firepit. Why? Because Grandmother always told us to be sure and close it lest the chickens get into her yard. No beautiful yard now. No chickens, either. But I still feel guilty if I don’t close the gate.
I could go on. But suffice it to say that almost every square yard of that old place holds something of (old or new) interest to me. I am not an “uninterested” person.
Grandmother’s green thumb and “precious” rocks. Granddaddy’s old livestock pens strategically fenced to work well with his cattle truck. The old creek and its cane. The ancient blue bottles and other relics we’d discovered as we made our way through the creek. The old clothesline Granddaddy put up out in the patch because Grandmother needed it. (It’s still standing and ready for use.)
Oh, there’s much more still to discover at the old place, much more to cast light on my grandparents’ lives and history, and their whole era, in some ways. It all fascinates me.
But what fascinates me more is the realization that we were all created by a God who knew and valued us immensely even before we were born, knows every hair on our head, and still finds each one of us…
Well, “interesting” isn’t strong enough. “Fascinating” is closer to the mark. “Delightful” might surprise you, but I think ruling it out too quickly says more about us than about our Father (and that’s worth some thought).
Is the God who knows us far better than we know ourselves “interested” in us? Oh, yes. “Interested” with a depth and quality of love we can barely begin to comprehend.
You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!
Copyright 2023 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.