Instantly, I was hooked. I could hear Renea’s voice reading this book to me about her adventures with Billy, an old time farmer. She suggests their meeting was fate after following a sign on the front lawn for baby goats. I tend to see it more as destiny. As I have read about Renea and Billy’s friendship, life lessons, and delicious recipes I can see that their bond is truly one of a kind.
This past weekend, I went to Atlanta for the Country Living Fair. Just prior to leaving, I shared it on Facebook and Renea messaged me. “Why don’t you come and visit Billy?!”
Well sure enough, I was able to scoot on up to the farm with about 20 minutes of daylight left. I had made it just in time. As I got out of the car, I was greeted by Domino, a lovely black and white kitty that could pass as a mini-cow. He lead me back behind the garage. I could hear the engine of the tractor, that I had read about in the book. There was Billy. Dressed in his traditional overalls and ball cap. He gave me a big ole smiles and wave, finished tilling the row, and hopped down off the tractor to get a closer look at me.
“Who are you?”
“I’m one of Renea’s friends. She wanted me to meet you.”
“Are you a Yankee? You say you know Zippy?”
“Yes. She sent me on over and she’s on her way”
“Well alright then, let me show you around!”
|Billy and I in his living room.|
I met the goats, the chickens, and had a formal introduction to Domino. I saw the fields, the gardens, the beautiful fig trees, okra seed pods, cotton, fresh cornmeal and more. It was magical. The pages of Renea’s book came to life.
As we waited for Renea to meet me us at the farm. I went inside. There Billy shared with me his beautiful family photos from the 1800’s. He was one of 12 children and loves his family so. He told me stories about all of his family members and siblings. He only has one sibling left and he lost his wife a few years ago too from Alzheimer’s. He stared at her picture, and gently caressed her face.
Soon enough Renea arrived and Billy invited us to try a bite of venison. It was delicious. He cooked it to perfection in a stove top pressure cooker. After a quick bite and Renea tidying up Billy’s place a bit, we went out to put the tractor to bed, lock Domino in for the evening, and gather a few eggs laid earlier by the hens.
“I call these cackleberries”, Billy said as he held three eggs in his hand.
Just like in the book, I could not help but laugh. Billy has a wonderful sense of humor and wit even for a man in his mid-eighties.
As darkness fell, we returned inside. Then he lit a fire in the most amazing stand alone vintage stove. I had never seen anything like it, but it blew hot air from the flames across the room. We chatted some more and eventually said goodnight to Billy. Of course, I did not leave empty handed. In my pockets were an okra seed pod, an ear of dried Winchester corn, and a delightful bag of cornmeal. This Yankee can’t wait to add a bit of Southern to her gardens and her kitchen.