Of course, I didn’t mean to die this way—alone in the woods, trapped in a Tuna can. I had dreams.

Hurricane Nate is about to make landfall. I’m in a trailer which is about the size of a Skoal can. I’m camping.

A stinky coonhound is on my lap. I have limited cellphone reception in the woods. The trailer is rocking from gale-force winds.

This was supposed to be a fishing trip. Instead I’m going to wake up as SPAM.

It’s raining hard. Thunder.

Of course, I didn’t mean to die this way—alone in the woods, trapped in a Tuna can. I had dreams.

For example: I wanted to take a trip to Mexico with my wife.

A friend of mine once visited Oaxaca. He raved about his first night in the city. The locals prepared him chicken—battered and fried. And puré de papas—which is like mashed potatoes.

I asked where he found such exquisite fare. He said the KFC downtown was fantástico.

I want to pick wildflowers one more time before I go. A whole handful of daisies, yellow-eyed grass, Indian paintbrushes, and cahaba lilies. I’d pick them for my wife.

Corny. I know, but she prefers wildflowers to store-bought.

Before I got sucked off the map, I wanted to see a few more NASCAR races. It’s been years since my last Talladega trip.

Once, at Talladega Campground, I saw a teenage girl—I’m not making this up—marinate possum meat in mustard, then cook it over a grill.

I want to see the sun go down over the Escambia River. I went canoeing on the river a few months ago. At sunset, I told myself, “If God’s in this world, he’s on the Escambia.”

And I want to be kissed by a litter of bloodhound puppies.

If there aren’t bloodhounds in heaven, someone else can have my ticket.

I wanted to eat at Lambert’s, in Foley, Alabama, one last time. I’ve been there more than I can count.

I want the waiter to toss me a yeast roll. I want to sit in a booth with my wife, talking over collards and fried gizzards.

I love her.

And before I am electrocuted by seven million gigawatts of unbridled electrical hell, then circulated over the atmosphere of Lower Alabama as a flying corpse, I want to visit Charleston with my wife again.

We honeymooned there, long ago. It nearly bankrupted us.

Two days after we married, we walked into a bookstore—high on marriage vows and moderate poverty. She picked up a book and said, “You think you’ll ever be a writer one day?”

I laughed. I told her not to be ridiculous. People like me laid shingles, hung sheetrock, and mopped floors. We weren’t writers.

She said, “I believe you’ll write. I believe you can be whatever you wanna be.”

That woman. She believed in me.

Before I leave this earth, I wish we could sit together in a pickup, watching lightning bugs over Keego pond. I wish I could see her ride the homecoming-parade float with her classmates.

I wish I could thank her for once telling a sad kid with red hair that he could be whatever the hell he wanted to be.

Anyway, it’s still raining. Lots of lightning. Make no mistake, I’m definitely going to die.

But if, by chance, this coonhound and I survive Hurricane Nate…

I’m picking wildflowers tomorrow.

46 comments

  1. Susan - October 8, 2017 2:55 pm

    I enjoy your work. We go to Lamberts’ in Missouri even we go visit my Papa! We cal out “throwed rolls”

    Reply
  2. Judy - October 8, 2017 2:55 pm

    Hope you can find those wild flowers to pick today.

    Reply
  3. Catherine - October 8, 2017 3:03 pm

    I certainly hope you survived. This world needs you to write and tell the stories of real heroes living every day life. I am Blessed to be able to read them.

    Reply
  4. Joan Dake - October 8, 2017 3:04 pm

    Definitely one of your best–guess you and Ellie Mae are still with us others who survived Nate and his fury!!!

    Reply
  5. Linda Allen - October 8, 2017 3:08 pm

    Jeeez! Don’t scare us like that! Can’t mess with Mother Nature…

    Reply
  6. Lynn - October 8, 2017 3:09 pm

    I really hope you made it to pick wildflowers! I was just introduced to your writing a few months ago. Now it’s one of the highlights of my day when your blog pops into my inbox!

    Reply
  7. Leigh - October 8, 2017 3:12 pm

    Get to picking those flowers 🌺

    Reply
  8. George - October 8, 2017 3:14 pm

    I’m thinking you did survive, it’s Sunday. Not much of a hurricane anyway, as it goes for hurricanes. Besides, my sister in Brewton would have called me to say, “Bubba, did you hear about Sean?” Hope all is well and your wife loves the flowers you pick tomorrow. It’s always tomorrow, right?

    Reply
  9. Jan - October 8, 2017 3:18 pm

    So glad you made it through the storm and we can look forward to another morning with Sean! We need your unique perspective in this world!

    Reply
  10. teachenglish67 - October 8, 2017 3:38 pm

    I’ve read all your writings since being introduced to them in July 2017. This one made me laugh at your descriptions, which are very accurate in your circumstances. I, too, would rather have wild flowers because they were put there by the forces of nature. And about the bloodhound…..their baying is a form of music in the South.
    Smiles and blessings to you, Sean.

    Reply
  11. candyalso - October 8, 2017 3:48 pm

    Pick and grin, Sean!

    Reply
  12. Elaine H. Walizer - October 8, 2017 3:50 pm

    Love reading your reflections and sharing your experiences. Just want to tell you–Indian Paintbrush only grows in the West. Probably you are picking Hawkweed. It comes in yellow, deep orange, and sometimes a mix. The main reason I know this: our daughter had to do a book report on a ‘how-to’ volume, so she chose ‘How to Identify Wildflowers.’ The whole family learned a lot, right along with her. When I got on the tractor to mow, I always mowed around the patches of hawkweed in bloom, along with the milkweed, Joe-pye weed, and jewelweed, not to mention the blackberry canes. Sigh. 16 years ago, and I still miss it!

    Reply
  13. Renee - October 8, 2017 4:38 pm

    It is now Sunday, please tell me that you and the coon hound are OK and not floating off somewhere,

    Reply
  14. Emma - October 8, 2017 5:10 pm

    Have enjoyed your writings since I lucked up on them a few months ago! Keep up the good work! I look forward to them, every day!

    Reply
  15. Evelyn Green - October 8, 2017 5:31 pm

    I love that you have such an eye for nature and love for your wife, but, what the hell were you doing out there in that kind of weather when it was a known fact that bad weather was coming???

    Reply
  16. Toni Tucker Locke - October 8, 2017 5:47 pm

    Something tells this new reader that you were Southern before Southern was cool. You, my new friend, are tres cool!

    Reply
  17. Dee Fritzie - October 8, 2017 5:52 pm

    I stayed in the bedroom with a scared Dachshund and the tv on the weather channel. Not quite the same but I appreciate your thought process. Mine was similar. I am in my mid 70s and live alone except for Rosie.

    Reply
  18. Pamela McEachern - October 8, 2017 6:11 pm

    I think she would be just plain happy with anything you gave her. It’s all about the love we show each other, no matter what flower comes with it. Glad you and Ellie Mae lived to love and write another day. Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  19. J. Elliott - October 8, 2017 6:14 pm

    I for one am very glad you became a writer!! This is one of my favorites. THANK YOU (and your wife)!

    Reply
  20. Karen Perry - October 8, 2017 6:16 pm

    Stay safe! None of us want to imagine a world without you and your writing.

    Reply
  21. Sheila Clark - October 8, 2017 6:24 pm

    Hope you and Ellie Mae are safe and picking wildflowers 🌻❤️

    Reply
  22. Lois M Cockerill - October 8, 2017 7:15 pm

    Sean, I love your wife now too, I love the wildflower bouquets much more than domestic arrangements. My husband had no place to pick wildflowers but he would get as wild as they come from the florist. I loved his version of wildflowers.
    So glad to see this post because I know we’ll be seeing more of your posts in the future. You made it through so we can love your writing again.

    Reply
  23. Jerry Kea - October 8, 2017 7:15 pm

    Are you alive???

    Reply
  24. F. Norman Vickers - October 8, 2017 7:32 pm

    Thanks, Sean. Just discovered your blog, but I’ve followed your musical career since you were a contestant at the Phillips’ Jazz Piano competition some years ago. We appreciate your multi-talents. Wishing you continued success.

    Norman Vickers
    Jazz Pensacola

    Reply
  25. Teresa - October 8, 2017 7:58 pm

    You better make it I have a date with you Wednesday night Dothan, Alabama.Ill be the one with a pink pig.

    Reply
  26. Melodie - October 8, 2017 8:01 pm

    You will survive to do all of those things you mentioned, and then, some, like writing more for others and me, to enjoy. Some time ago, a high school friend of mine told me about you, and ever since, I’ve looked forward to getting my daily dose of Sean of the South. I’ve thanked my friend so much, that she was kind and generous enough to send me your book, titled, Lyla! I am grateful for so much, like old friends, wildflowers, and you.

    Reply
  27. Tim Vaught - October 8, 2017 8:16 pm

    Hope there are some swampdaiseys left for you to pick today!

    Reply
  28. Michael Hawke - October 9, 2017 1:22 am

    That was great. Keep ’em coming. God bless.

    Reply
  29. muthahun - October 9, 2017 2:51 am

    11 hours… hope you’re faring better than those poor souls in Puerto Rico. And really, darlin’, what in hell are you doing in a hurricane hangin’ out in a travel trailer? Hoping that you and Ellie are OK.

    Reply
  30. lavenderlady - October 9, 2017 3:03 am

    I want to be loved by someone just like you! Lucky lady your wife.

    Reply
  31. Marion - October 9, 2017 4:39 am

    I was lucky enough to get a wildflower picker for my hubby! He even picked wild daisies for me on our first camping trip after we married! Had a glass coke bottle to put them in, too! That was in 1968. I don’t tent camp anymore, but he still brings me wildflowers! Not sure I could get up and out of a sleeping bag! Ache too much! Cabins for me!

    Reply
  32. Terry Bush CHIPLEY,,Fl - October 9, 2017 5:54 am

    Hope you are picking wildflowers today and kissing coonhound!

    Reply
  33. Jack Quanstrum - October 9, 2017 6:10 am

    Poetically beautiful story. From the soul, so pure and authentic! Shalom!

    Reply
  34. Theresa Rives Wood - October 9, 2017 6:11 am

    I trust you & coon dog survived Nate, a classic story that made me smile. Reading your stories daily are what make me survive my days, week, month heck if it weren’t for your writings life just wouldn’t be worth living! Keep’em coming! Please.

    Reply
  35. shirley - October 9, 2017 12:43 pm

    Don’t ever doubt it. YOU are a writer and a good one at that. Thanks for making me smile.

    Reply
  36. Ava - October 9, 2017 1:48 pm

    Several years ago I was traveling on a long straight road. About half a mile ahead, I saw an 18 wheeler brake and pull over to the side of the road. The driver jumped out and ran to the median. There he started picking wildflowers by the handfuls. I guess he was nearly home.

    Reply
  37. Jo Snodgrass - October 9, 2017 3:36 pm

    Sure hope you made it; selfishly, I would sure miss your writings. My daughter has just recently started sending me your writings. She and I love them. You remind me of Rick Bragg or the late, great Lewis Grizzard. Could I start receiving your writings at email address below: (Zoe is my granddaughter and she calls me ‘darlin)

    Reply
  38. Gwen McGill - October 9, 2017 4:34 pm

    Your wife was right about you and she is awesome! I love wildflowers too. More than any flowers on God’s green earth.

    Reply
  39. Debra - October 9, 2017 6:48 pm

    So glad you survived! I’d miss your heart.

    Reply
    • Gwen McGill - October 9, 2017 6:50 pm

      Yes, good that Sean survived!!!!!!

      Reply
  40. Kevin Hughes - October 10, 2017 1:09 am

    Fantastic observations, reflections, solace, and hopes of what I love about being born and raised a southerner! You didnt need the book. Just a good storm, dog, and woman!

    Reply
  41. Elle Estes - October 10, 2017 3:51 pm

    Where are you? Not posting today? That would be awful, you keep the ripple of meaning current. No pun intended! Please keep sharing your gift.

    Reply
  42. dottie doherty - October 10, 2017 5:30 pm

    What joy and happiness and yes sometimes tears your stories bring to my life each day.

    Reply
  43. LARRY WALL - October 10, 2017 6:06 pm

    Funny how danger gets us to thinking of doing the right things. I sure hope you got those wildflowers picked for Jamie. We all should remember to do that for our brides. Bad storms or not.

    Reply
  44. Steve Hatch - October 12, 2017 3:24 am

    As an afficianado of the Throw’d Roll early on in my youth,(having the good fortune to grow up within striking distance of the original Lambert’s), I can certainly relate to the desire to have at least one more meal at any Lambert’s. Glad to know you and Ellie Mae made it through the storm OK. BTW, everyone needs to eat at Lambert’s one more time before you meet your maker, even if that time is your first time. I recommend the fried pork steak and a large appetite.

    Reply
  45. Katy - November 9, 2017 6:26 pm

    I, for one, am thankful you survived. It’s selfish (and I’m a bit behind), but I’d miss your writings.

    Reply

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