And, except for the Family Forest ones, which refer to the others, and the Paxton People, which are numbered, but in no particular order of importance, I guess it's all the same to read the thing from front to back---the tales and remembrances are put down when they come to me, and there's no real continuity of thought to preserve.
She especially pointed out one favorite post of hers---the one about my childhood propensity for feeding the men riding the rails---they'd sneak aboard one of the boxcars, hide away behind cargo or in the straw of an empty, and go wherever the train took them. I always told myself they were off to great adventures in bright-lighted places, or going to new jobs, where they'd immediately have a nice house and could bring their families to the bright promises of a new start. The best scenario I created was that they'd been far away, escaping from family or seeking their fortunes, like the Prodigal Son, and, like he, were going home to be welcomed with joy.
And those moments, those days are so brilliantly inscribed into all that is me, I think of them occasionally, with more than nostalgia for a time that is past. I’ve been a Martha all my life, and it makes me happy to be able to set a plate, pour a cup, move a pillow---to help someone’s comfort.
The news MAKES the world too much with us, and it is still a miracle and mystery that the simple preparation of a warm cup or a cold drink can be a part of a blessing in many ways that other, greater things cannot. It's the Melanie Syndrome, too, I think---remember how Scarlett would chastise her for giving their food to the men straggling by on their long treks home, and Melanie said that she hoped that some woman, somewhere, might be sharing her own dinner with Ashley, to ease his way.
We left a restaurant a while ago, before the snows began, but on a rather cold evening—Chris, our Son #4 and I, and passed a man sitting on a narrow brick ledge outside an adjoining store, which was closed. The roll of blanket at his feet showed his meager circumstance, and we asked if we could go back in and buy him dinner; he pointed to the Arby's down the street.
We asked what would he like and he replied that he couldn't take food from us, but he would appreciate it if we would just go there and pay for some coffee and a sandwich. We offered him a ride with us; he declined, so we waited in the parking lot until he walked the couple of blocks and settled into a booth. Chris and Son went in and sat with him until he had ordered a couple of sandwiches, coffee, and a couple to go for tomorrow.
I watched from the car as they paid the check, and we left him there, warm and filled for a time, sharing the circle of light on such a dark, cold night---a small, wispy-haired soul blowing into a paper cup.