Sitting down to do this column after a weekend of visiting another Ozark town to sign books, I realized I needed to turn the calendar over to October. When I did, the first day I saw said "Labour Day", which surprised me, because I thought we'd already had it.
At my age, however, I don't much question misplacing things and I was all fixed for putting my column off a day, until Diana reminded me that the calendar was one somebody had sent me from Australia. I should have known from the way they spelled Labor that they'd have a whole different day for it down there, where seasons are upside down and a lot of the work is mostly dodging poisonous wildlife. Anyway, G'die to you (which is the way Australians say hello) and have a nice and maybe rainy October.
Diana and I drove over to Marble Hill, Missouri, and had a really good time meeting another bunch of friendly Ozark small town people. If you wonder where the town's name came from, the little hotel where we stayed had marble windowsills and tabletops. Turned out they were polished granite, not marble, but it would have taken a stonecutter to tell the difference--and I had to run into one of these to find out. Turns out, there is no marble in Marble Hill but a world of granite, which polishes up the same way and weathers better.
More important to me, if buying books is a sign of intellect, those were some of the smartest people I ever met, and I about wore myself slick signing my name to the books they bought. But the fun part is always meeting folks, and one of the best of these didn't buy a book.
This little lady just stared at me, laughing and couldn't stop. She got me so tickled that I had to ask her why I was so funny and she said, "I'm going to tell my kids I got to look at one of those dumb Darlin' boys from the Andy Griffith Show. You boys were so funny!"
She ended up buying a picture of all the Darling boys with Andy, which Diana had remembered to bring along in case people wouldn't remember me, and the woman was as happy with that as she would have been with ten books and a sidesaddle.
We got to meet old folks, young folks and some wonderfully beautiful children, who stared at us like little owls and handed me books to sign that they wouldn't be able to read for years. For us, it was like any visit to an Ozark town where hospitality and welcome are as natural and warm as the fireplace and we are much obliged.
And for us, coming back to our little town was like returning from a neighbor's place, full of the good fun furnished by people, music, and a good feed.
Many thanks to Jeanie and Harley, who sent us home with a store of good memories and, even better, winter forage.