After getting home the other night from Arkansas, I was blown over by the amount of news dedicated to the recent financial crisis and the $700 Billion Bailout. With the presidential campaigns closing in and the world teetering on a totter, I’m begging to feel that this is one of the most crucial times of American History. ‘The party is over and we’re all going to suffer’, read the headlines. That’s what really pisses me off about this world, it’s easy for the weak and ignorant to take it all for granted, and in the end, we all have to pay. C’est la vie? Hmmmm…
As things continued to unravel this week, me and my friends were on a ranch near Jasper, AR (as you may have gathered from previous posts) Twice we rolled into town for a hearty country style breakfast. At the Ozark Cafe, I got up to wash my hands before ordering. As I squeezed past the bar, I overheard an elderly man in Levi jeans, a red plaid shirt and suspenders order a cup of coffee – to go with his biscuits and gravy I presumed – his empty cup sat beside his John Deere sweat stained cap. The bathroom walls were dressed in black and white photographs of Jasper, (the small town that is the hub of the Ozark Mountains). Pictures of dirt roads and little girls in summer dresses holding classic glass Pepsi bottles and a portrait of Marvin of Marvin’s General Store.
The Ozark Mountains are a sight to see and are rich in early American history, hills waving to the horizon like a surfers set, rivers babbling down each valley and small towns like Jasper which offer only one single intersection, without a stop sign. Jasper is a where the remnants remain on every corner, it’s a place of simple pleasures, proud community and armadillos. It’s as if time stood still here and I for one appreciate that. Simple is always better. Living next to the Ozark Cafe was “Emma’s Museum of Junk” and trucks from the 60’s and 70’s were parked on all corners of the street. Harley Davidson Motorcycles cruised through the main drag and there was a hand built wooden bench every 15 yards, in case your soul gets tired and needs a rest.
After breakfast, I sat and waited for my friends outside and during a five minute sit down (on the most comfortable bench ever) I got three big, uninitiated waves from passerbyers and each one was quickly followed by a smile, as if I knew them my whole life. In New York City, you can go a whole day or a lifetime and feel alone, waiting for weeks just to get some eye contact from a stranger. It occurred to me here, that the country life is the backbone of not only America but the whole world. Farm land, cattle, fruit, veggies whatever it is, if you’ve eaten and clothed yourself today, thank a farmer and never complain with your mouth full. It’s up the simple folks who keep our nations glued together. Not the city slicking consumers, the ones with wireless gadgets, silk socks and fancy cars, they may drive the stock market and they get all horny over the next citrus scented of Herbal Essence shampoo or a gay chrome watch, but it’s the ones who drive the tractors that earn my respect the most – in the end.
I may be wrong about this, but if there is ever a serious economic meltdown and we all fall into a great depression, it is the farmers who will prosper, it will be the hard workers of the forests and fields who will carry us through. Each time we eat a sandwich or drink a cup of fresh coffee, we owe it to take a single second and say thank you to the hundreds of faceless farmers who brought us this meal to our plate. The ones with leather hands and their sleeves rolled up.
After waving back to the third car, I dashed back inside the cafe to see if my friends were doing okay, of course they were doing just fine, and on my right was the same old man with another empty cup of coffee.
“May I order another please” He asked the pretty waitress,
“Sure you can, you can have as many as you’d like” she replied with a wink.