One of the best parts about participating in the Franklin County Book Festival this past weekend was hanging out with Fred, Floyd’s First Blogger, and running into fellow presenter and old friend, Jim Minick. Jim is a widely published regional writer, a teacher of writing and literature, and the author of, “Finding a Clear Path,” but I remember him most as a blueberry farmer who lived in Floyd County for many years.
Although Fred’s first book, “A Slow Road Home,” wasn’t back from the printer in time for him to be a presenter this year, he participated Friday night as one of the Festival’s scheduled authors, reading excerpts from his book at the Edible Vibe, a café adjacent to the library. I knew Fred was going to be there Saturday as well, but meeting up with Jim, who I hadn’t seen in more than a few years, was a pleasant surprise.
Rapping on the window, I waved when I first saw him in the library’s glass paneled, makeshift author’s book store. He smiled and came out. We exchanged a hug. Although our presentations were scheduled to start at the same time, mine was slated for a half hour and his for a full one, which meant that I would be able to catch some of his reading.
I concluded my talk by answering a few questions and reading an excerpt from my book, from which my presentation, “Mining the Gold of a Story,” was named: In this physical world, we have to mine for treasure. Gold and silver and precious gems are not usually found laying around on the surface of the earth. It’s the same with us; we have to excavate our own treasure, down through the door of our childhood, through the pain of what hurts, into the grief of our losses. Life nudges us to go deeper because to live only on the surface is superficial. There’s so much more.
I went from images of mining the gold of a story to those of digging potatoes, as Jim was in the middle of reading his essay entitled “The Holy, Lowly Spud” when my husband, Joe, Fred, and I finally arrived. We grub for orbs of light: Kennebec, Pontiac, Yukon Gold. Earth eggs perfect in their potato-ness.
Jim’s reading took place in the children’s part of the library, and I couldn’t help but notice the rug with its larger than life prints of monkeys and trees in bright primary colors. “I’m glad they didn’t put me in this room,” I thought to myself, considering my book’s subject matter, grief and loss. Giggles rippled through the room at the start of his next essay: I inherited my hate for groundhogs from Grandpa. He instilled in me, while I was still young, his utter disgust for those hairy varmints that live in holes.
After Jim’s reading, we were all off duty, and so we headed over to the Edible Vibe for lunch. It was there, while munching on marinara soaked angel hair pasta, that I uttered these words to Jim, “Can we interest you in a blog, Jim?”
He answered calmly, slightly suspicious, as though we were playing poker and he was upping the ante, “How long do you spend at it?" he asked.
Fred and I broke out our litany of reasons why, as writers, we blog … it’s so much more than a business card… a motivator to write… a networking tool. But Jim held his ground.
“How long do you spend at it?” he repeated, causing us all to laugh as we realized our complete avoidance of Jim’s repeated question.
Clearly, as a farmer and ecology activist, Jim would rather be in the blueberry patch, or rambling down a country road, than creating more reasons to be at the computer. And he’s probably right.
“Well, you at least need your own web page,” I conceded.
“Smile, someone will blogging this!” Joe said, as he snapped a picture of the three of us laughing.
Photo: Fred, Jim, and Colleen
~ Originally posted on Loose Leaf Notes on August 21, 2006.