It’s a lazy weekend. Mill’s Produce Stand is a shack on the edge of Dothan, Alabama, sitting behind miles of farmland.
I buy fifty pounds of Slocomb tomatoes.
I can’t think of anything I like more than Slocomb tomatoes. I’m eating one right now, the same way I’d eat a Granny Smith.
I’ve already ruined my shirt. I’m doing forty-five miles per hour, taking in sights.
A car speeds around me, Pennsylvania tags. He must be traveling eighty.
Sorry, pal. This is Wiregrass country. We own the copyright on laziness. And I am on a lazy drive home.
There has been a light rain, the sun is poking from the clouds. There are miles of peanut fields. Firework-stands. Condemned barns.
I pass Slocomb. If you’ve ever wanted to know where God’s summer house is, it’s in Slocomb. A town with not much more than grain silos, a Methodist church, Baptist church, First Assembly of God, and the best tomatoes you can shake a New American Standard Bible at.
I pass three girls on horseback, riding the highway shoulder. They wear ten-gallon hats. The leader of the group tips her brim to me.
Now I’m behind a truck with a bumper sticker that reads: “What a friend we have in Nick Saban.” He’s driving even slower than me.
Like I said, we invented lazy.
Esto is just over the Alabama-Florida line. There is a combination ice-cream shop and lottery-ticket store.
Lopsided shotgun houses, pretty enough for postcards. Cattle beneath live oaks in green pastures.
A creek bridge with bicycles parked at the railing. A rundown beer-joint named Sam’s Place—within spitting distance from Mount Olive Baptist Church.
I’ve reached Bonifay. Here, there are magnificent homes with feral cats and deep-freezes on front porches. The fire-station—also a police-station—sits just behind the stadium. So does the Assembly of God.
Next: Carryville, Westville, and Ponce De Leon.
Years ago, I had a flat on the interstate near Ponce De Leon. A man parked behind me and directed traffic while I changed my tire during rush hour. He saved my life.
When I finished, he tucked a wad in his lip and said, “Dangerous thing, this freeway, figured you needed a Good Samaritan.”
We have lots of those here. In fact, Samaria itself is a few hours up the road in Chilton County.
The truth is, I haven’t been many places in my life. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen things worth seeing.
I once watched a man in a wheelchair stop traffic to save a turtle. I have seen lightning bugs come alive in pecan groves. I have seen people help others with flat tires on Interstate 10.
In Franklin County, I bought the best coondog God ever made. I found the love of my life where Burnt Corn Creek and Murder Creek fork.
I’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, nor a San Francisco sunrise. And truth told, I might not ever see those things. Not because I don’t want to. But because I am lazy.
And because I like Slocomb tomatoes too damn much.
Because I’m a slow learner, and it’s taken me a hundred years too long to see how much I have to be grateful for.