I guess I don’t know Steve Clemons all that well. I don’t know his back story. I don’t know his work history. I don’t know where (or if) he goes to church. I don’t know his running buddies or his kinfolk. Heck, I don’t even know his profession. No, I don’t know all those little facts about Steve.
Honestly, the man is a mystery to me. Most of the time, I don’t know if he’s serious or pullin’ my leg. And, I think he speaks in riddles. Or, maybe it’s just “cowboy speak”, and I’m just not fluent in that language? (The latter is probably the likely story.)
Why am I writing about Steve? Well, that’ll require a little back story. I office out of Gore Bros. Agri-Service these days. Yep… The Moxie Room moved to the feed store. It’s been a bit of a culture shock for this ol’ gal but in all the right ways. Anyway, Steve has a stool here that he keeps warm much of the day. I don’t know what he does with his time when he’s NOT here, but I do know that he’s here. A lot. He sits on his stool, drinks coffee, talks in riddles, socializes with the customers (the man knows EVERYONE), and teaches me about agriculture. And, every morning, I’m greeted with “morning, Glory” dripping in his heavy, HEAVY cowboy drawl. I’ve grown quite fond of it, actually.
As I’ve been immersed in this world of cowboys and feed and agriculture and… stuff, I’ve begun to get to know a culture of which I’ve never really been a part. I think I’ve said it a billion times before, but I’m not a country girl. I’m not a cowgirl. I never ran around with folks who wear boots or cowboy hats. I’m scared of horses. Yep. I don’t like country music. (The horror!) I want to be clear that it was never a conscious choice not to hang out with that crowd. It’s just that we never really had much in common. That’s just how things shook out.
So, as I’ve gotten to know this culture, I’ve grown quite appreciative & fond of the whole bunch. And, Steve is a big part of that bunch as he’s here all the time. I told you all the things I don’t know about him, but now comes the time when I tell you what I DO know about him. I would have assumed he was a good ol’ boy… a man’s man. In my mind, good ol’ boys aren’t expressive, articulate or in touch with their feelings. They are the stereotypical man. You know… men are from Mars; women are from Venus? That sort of thing. But, golly, I was wrong.
One morning, Steve came cruising in with a folder OVER FLOWING with drawings and recipes and memories and poems he’d written. I believe I looked at him like he had four heads. I had no inkling that he was the creative type. See how well I know him? Because, apparently, he’s the VERY creative type. He cooks, he writes, he draws, he builds furniture. Anyway, as I began to look through the papers, I quickly identified a theme in his writing. Friendship. He’s a “count your blessings” sorta guy. He seems to truly appreciate the friendships he’s made in his life. I really quite liked reading into his being. Because, really… poetry is inspired. Poetry is spurred by emotions and feelings. He seems to value the right things in life. He holds on to dear memories. He holds on to dear friendships. He makes it a point to slow down and appreciate. Just appreciate.
When I told him I’d been looking through the folder he left, he asked me if there were a bunch of hand drawn crosses in there. I said, “yeah, actually there are a ton of them, why?” A subtle little half smile came upon his face, and he said, “I used to draw one every morning”. Hmmm, I thought to myself. And, of course, I follow that with, “why?” “It’s a peaceful thing,” he says without a thought.
With all this profound creativity, I thought it’d be fun to pick his brain a little bit today. I wanted to know what inspires him. I wanted to know how he perceived himself. I wanted to know how he balances taking care of his sheep, goats, & horses with being all… creative. But, I didn’t get very far. He was agreeable in allowing me to take his picture (on his stool, drinking his coffee). He told me if I asked the questions, he’d answer them. He neglected to tell me he’d answer them in riddles or with a tall tale. Sigh. The following is the kind of thing I got from him:
Steve: “When I was in college, back before computers, when we had to take notes on stone tablets, I wanted to be a graphic artist.”
Me: (Saddened by the thought of him not attaining his young aspirations) “Why didn’t you become one?”
Steve: “They wanted talented people, I come to find out.” (Accompanied by a roar of laughter.)
He’s a pill, I tell ya! But, within his folders, amongst those stacks of papers, I get the straight answer. I get a glimpse of who he really is. And who he really is is so much better than knowing his back story, his work history, or where he goes to church.