The joy of baby goats

I can’t recall the last time an election wasn’t “history making” or “the most important election of our lifetimes.” Once in a while, that’s been the case, but most times it’s been far more hyperbolic than historic.

This time, however, I think that old saw can actually cut some wood.

As I write these words, more than 60 percent of the state has cast a ballot; nationally, the numbers were similar. Some of you will read this after the polls have been closed, while some of you may be standing in line waiting to put your ballot in the machine. By the way, my fellow traditionalists, I salute you.

Sadly, there are a lot of folks who have taken their concern for the fate of our country in another direction. Encouraged by the need-it-now-because-I-said-so attitude of society, loyalty to one’s position has often been replaced with a hatred of the other side. 

Jefferson Weaver
Jefferson Weaver

I had a moment the other day when for the first time in months, I saw some light in the midst of the lugubrious gloom of pandemic politics, civil unrest, overriding fear, and an economy that is either rebounding slowly or meteorically, depending on your politics. In the midst of the sarcasm, the anger, the disgust, the severed friendships and yes, true hatred from some individuals on both sides of the political aisle — we had a baby goat born at our house.

Zaccariah was a surprise, though he shouldn’t have been. He earned his name because like John’s father in the Bible, Miss Rhonda was struck speechless and could only wave me over to see the new arrival.

Now, baby goats are always cause for celebration, so I rapidly and proudly  shared his picture with friends near and far. There were compliments and congratulations, baby goat stories and baby goat advice, and jokes about how he resembled me.

On the social media thread about our blessed event, I spotted a few folks who were at each other’s throats days or weeks before.  They are loyal to different philosophies and values, but they could and did come together, however briefly, to celebrate a baby goat.

Zack helped me change my perspective back to where it needed to be. Rather than reading and either discounting or skeptically trusting news stories about who would win what this week, and what would happen, I noticed some of the things I’d been missing, what with the new job and my health and the pandemic and family worries and the fate of the Republic and the almost-death threats (which are a column for another day).

Zack helped me remember that we take for granted the many simple things that matter the most.

Master William and the Brothers Fish met for the first time the other day; I happen to be mutual friends with the parents of all three boys. It wasn’t long before they were doing what boys do at that age: exploring the woods, sharing stories about things that made us all smile when we still knew what mattered, and just runnin’ around being boys. They divided a snakeskin that Master William later used to semi-frighten his mother. I think they went hunting for crawfish. Norman Rockwell would have wept and Robert Ruark would have given up if they had tried to draw that picture or write their story. I just look forward to the day when either or both of the boys I consider to be my grandsons can join William, Michael and Brian.

Later on, a friend announced that his baby, born prematurely, was home and healthy. I could have wept at the joy in his eyes, holding that tiny little life that could grow up to be anything, since this is America.

As I wandered across the yard getting some fresh air, Good William IX (the redbone hound, no relation to my friends’ snakeskin-hoarding son) took off with the joy that only a hound can exhibit, ears flying in the wind, jowls swinging in time to that odd sideways run so many hounds have, where it looks like their back end is catching up to their front. There was a scent on the breeze and a full moon on the horizon, and he was ready for both.

Later on I laughed and laughed with a friend on the telephone; there was no rhyme nor reason, save that we were both struck by something that had two men in their fifties howling with none of the decorum society expects after a certain age.

The next morning, I was up earlier than usual, and got to watch a sunrise and talk to God for a few minutes. I got to walk hand in hand in the sunset with my wife later that day, as we have for nearly three decades.

We are surrounded by the things that really matter, the good things that can help make even a horrible day brighter for just a moment or two. Things like fried chicken, tea that is sweet without being syrupy with sugar, ice cream, pecan pie, persimmons painted purple by a frost that sends the mosquitoes into hibernation, and old pears from a forgotten tree.

Things like a young woman’s laugh at something said by the young man whose hand she is holding unashamedly as they walk down the street. Old movies where cursing and gore and nudity weren’t necessary to keep the viewer riveted to the screen. 

We forget the things like the flag of a whitetail deer dashing through a thicket to frustrate the hunter and survive another season. We forget the tug of a fish on the end of a cane pole, carefully cut and rigged by a father, mother, older sister or brother for a little kid just learning how to fish.

We forget the joy of a song that reminds us of another time, a special moment that we had all but forgotten in the heat of the current moment.

We forget the rocking motion of a good horse on a smooth trail, when rider and mount are in tune and the saddle creaks and the miles don’t matter.

We forget the joy of things like a warm cat’s purr on a cold night, or the snoring and whuffling barks of a retired hound chasing a coon through the lowlands of his dreams, back when his hips still worked and no fence could hold him. We forget the joy of that old dog’s grandchildren, toddling across the floor, learning to howl, and inexplicably still having puppy breath more redolent than any high-dollar perfume whilst gnawing on a convenient toe.

We forget the joy of seeing a can fly when hit by a .22 bullet, and the joy of a young athlete connecting perfectly with the horsehide, sending his first home run out of the park. We forget the joy of wisdom shared on a front porch of an evening, around a kitchen table or on a long drive to nowhere.

We forget the joy of seeing someone accept Christ as their savior, after years or even just days of prayers by folks whose love transcends, forgives and forgets all misdeeds. We forget the joy of old hymns and new songs.

We forget the joy that comes from pride in our country as we say the Pledge of Allegiance, a pledge to a place where anyone who is willing to work has a chance to succeed.

As this world seems to get meaner and meaner, like a cottonmouth shedding its skin, we forget the joy that comes from doing something nice for someone — heck, even just being nice is often a lost art, lost well before this year decided to break all records for misery.

We forget the joy of simple things like the smell of old books, or finding new stories worth devouring and hoarding to be enjoyed again. We forget the joy of a crisply ironed shirt, a well-knotted tie, comfortable boots and well-shined shoes. We forget hot coffee on a cold morning, big breakfasts and hot biscuits, fish still arguing the point as they are dropped in hot grease, and real hamburgers made just right. 

We forget the joy of going to the mailbox and finding an envelope with a handwritten address and a handwritten note inside.

There’s a lot of evil in the world; I will not dispute that point. It seems to dominate everything these days, and I have no doubt it will for a while.

I won’t ignore it, of course, and indeed, I’ll deal with it however I can, in whatever way God leads me to do.

But at the same time, when things are at their worst, I’m going to do my best to smile and still be nice.

As I have said before, maybe too many times, it’s really the simple stuff that matters.

We need to remember, folks, that when the elations are over, we’re still neighbors. We’re still Americans. We still have to live next door to the same folks we waved at a few months back.

Maybe, just maybe, if we can remember the simple things that really matter, things won’t be as dark as so many want to believe. I think the world would be a much better place if we all took the time to remember the joy of baby goats, puppy breath, pecan pie, happy children, and old dogs.

About Jefferson Weaver 1879 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@ColumbusCountyNews.com.

1 Comment

  1. In GODS amazing grace,it is a wonder how one of GODS,little creatures can make the feuding sides forget about their differences but for a moment in time!How one day very soon the lion and lamb will lie together!So my hat is off to you Jefferson for allowing us to share in the birth of your new beautiful family member! Thanks,so much!Looking forward to more follow up photos of the baby!!

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