The smell of chicken soup is strong, wafting through the cracks in the windows and beneath the doors. Suppertime approaches, and I am getting hungry.

It is raining. It has rained all day. My wife is making chicken soup because soup goes with rainy weather. It’s been a lazy, wet, boring, sleepy day. My wife has had the soup simmering since breakfast.

“The secret to good soup is plenty of time,” my wife told me earlier. “Time equals flavor.”

I liked that phrase so much I had to write it down on a legal pad. The same pad I am using to write you. I made a note to work that clever little sentence into this column.

“Time equals flavor.” That’s good.

Anyway, my dogs have been cooped up because of the weather. Around ten o’clock, they finally went stir crazy and started a professional wrestling league in the den.

So I left for the quiet porch with my legal pad. I have been here all day, listening to rain.

Only one week ago, I was in New York City. It rained downtown. It didn’t faze the city buzz. Life kept moving. Horns kept honking. People kept racing from Point A to Point B.

But here in the woods, a good rain stops everything. In this weather, our small world becomes lethargic.

I can smell my wife’s soup from here. She made it from a chicken we bought from our friend, Lonnie. Lonnie is a strange hippie who names all his animals. Apparently, the chicken’s name was “Daisy” before the bird met its end.

My wife likes to know these things before she buys chicken. She likes to know the bird had a good life, and if possible, a Christian name.

Once, Lonnie tried to sell us a frozen chicken he had named “Mary.” My wife wouldn’t take it because Mary is her mother’s name.

The rain keeps falling.

I take a break from writing to read a book. It’s not high-brow literature. I’m a little embarrassed to tell you what I’m reading.

It is Minnie Pearl’s book of jokes. I’ve almost finished the entire thing on the porch today.

One joke is particularly good:

“A teacher wrote a sentence on the blackboard, which read: ‘I ain’t had fun all week.” The teacher said to her class, ‘How can I correct this sentence?’ A boy in the back stood and said, ‘Maybe you oughta get a boyfriend.’”

They don’t make them like Minnie anymore.

The smell of chicken soup is strong, wafting through the cracks in the windows and beneath the doors. Suppertime approaches, and I am getting hungry.

It’s past five and I still haven’t figured out how to use the phrase, “Time equals flavor” in this column.

The rain falls harder. It’s loud. I can hardly think, let alone write. The humidity has made the legal pad limp.

I am interrupted by the voice of my wife. She is on the phone. She’s using a voice loud enough to be heard in the next county. I eavesdrop only to find that she is engaged in juicy gossip which I can’t repeat here.

So instead I’ll tell you another Minnie Pearl joke:

There are a bunch of newborns in the hospital nursery. One of the babies smiles at a girl-baby and says, “Hey sweetheart, I just figured out that I’m a boy-baby, wanna know how I figured it out?”


“Wait ‘til the nurse leaves, sweetie, and I’ll show you.”

The nurse leaves.

The boy stands and lifts his nightgown and says, “See? Blue booties.”

God bless Minnie Pearl.

The sound of the storm gets stronger. Distant thunder, quiet and low. White noise. The sounds of frogs come in pulses.

And I smell wet earth. Have you ever smelled a million acres of pine, saturated by Heaven? It smells as good as it sounds.

Some people associate rain with sad things, but the farming people I come from do not. No rural person would ever think badly of rain. Rain is a gift. It is the greatest thing the world will ever see. It might be inconvenient, but it is holy.

My wife shouts, “Soup’s ready!”

I stand to leave the porch. Before I go, I catch a glimpse of my legal pad. There are notes and doodles all over it pertaining to this column.

One phrase reads: “God bless Minnie Pearl.”

Just below that, another sentence is underlined, the sentence my wife used.

“What a shame,” I think to myself. I was going to work my wife’s phrase into this column. But it’s raining too hard, and I’m feeling too lazy.

Maybe I could slap the sentence onto the final paragraph and hope it means as much to you as it does to me.

Because after all, it’s true. All the things I have gone through, the ingredients of my life, the heartaches, the triumphs, the failures, the hell, the victories, they impart taste.

When they have simmered long enough, maybe one day I’ll find that no part of my life was without meaning. My experiences made me into me. Yours make you into you.

And make no mistake about it, we are great works of art. It just takes time, that’s all.

Because time equals flavor.


  1. Martha Black - June 9, 2019 8:02 am

    Oh yes indeed, ALL the elements combined make the completed work of art……life

    You have summed it up so well.

    Your line “Have you ever smelled a million acres of pine, saturated by Heaven? It smells as good as it sounds.” reached out, stirred my memories of growing up at the edge of a pine grove in Carolina.

    Please keep writing to us even if your legal pad is a little limp or wavy when it dries out.

    Thank you so much…..

  2. JanieF. - June 9, 2019 10:49 am


  3. Ginger - June 9, 2019 12:00 pm

    Raining in Alabama, too. Just came in from my little covered patio, listening to the rain ping on the tin roof, smelling the gardenias (which my Mom declared smell like a funeral home visitation), and giving my SS lesson a final tweak. I played Minnie Pearl once in a skit at the church. Enjoying the quiet rain and this new bit of wisdom. Time equals flavor, and I do think time brings a flavor to our lives that we cannot beg, borrow, or steal when we are young.

  4. Joe Patterson - June 9, 2019 12:42 pm

    True thanks again

  5. Jones - June 9, 2019 12:42 pm


  6. Elizabeth - June 9, 2019 12:48 pm

    Your line “Have you ever smelled a million acres of pine, saturated by Heaven?” Pure poetry! Perfect! But only if you know that smell! Boy, I miss it. Thank you!

  7. Carol - June 9, 2019 1:03 pm

    One of your best.!! It’s raing, thundering and lightning here in south Ga,and my two dogs are laying on my feet ,
    We get a little bit scared with all the tornadoes we get around here every time it storms. So we’re staying close to one another.
    Thank you for taking my mind off of the fear I get and reminding me of how much I use to love rainy days and rainy nights. !!
    Love ya!

  8. Lydia - June 9, 2019 2:02 pm

    Love this one!

  9. Tim House - June 9, 2019 2:05 pm

    It’s been raining here, too, for a couple of days, on the TN/AL border. I’ve been living just what you wrote. Never a hard, driving rain, but a mostly on again, off again kind of soaker rain that we’ve been needing. We’ve let the trees grow up all around on our property, so that I can sit on the porch and watch, but more listen to the rain, and feel like the last person on earth. A peaceful island in the middle of life. The farmers around here are definitely glad for the rain, too. And yes, you’re right (or should I say, you wife is right), time DOES equal flavor… 🙂

  10. Edna B. - June 9, 2019 2:48 pm

    We’ve been having lovely sunny days, but I’m sure the rain is only a day or so away. As long as it is warm, I can still sit out on my porch. You have a wonderful day and enjoy your soup. Hugs, Edna B.

  11. Suzanne - June 9, 2019 2:53 pm

    I love the rain too!

  12. James A Clark Jr - June 9, 2019 3:18 pm

    I love all of your posts! I just don’t comment on all of them!

  13. James A Clark Jr - June 9, 2019 3:19 pm

    It is well said write about what you know and you won’t go wrong.. I know you are writing of what you know!

  14. Linda Moon - June 9, 2019 3:22 pm

    Clever Little Sentences: the best kind. Thank you for writing it down on your legal pad for me and all the other MEs you write for. I didn’t know Sarah Ophelia Cannon had any “blue jokes” in her. Maybe Sarah didn’t, but it seems her alter-ego, Minnie, did!
    God Rest the Soul of Sarah/Minnie….a great work of art, as you are too, Sean Dietrich.

  15. HT - June 9, 2019 4:15 pm

    Now that well done :-]

  16. MermaidGrammy - June 9, 2019 4:50 pm

    Excellent! I can actually smell that soup

  17. Rebecca Brey - June 9, 2019 4:50 pm

    Your writing is awesome. I enjoy every story!

  18. Jean - June 9, 2019 5:01 pm

    Love the smell of pine and Minnie Pearl. She was a great lady and we were all proud of her being part of our lives. I am glad that you are part of my life as well. It does take time to get things just right and we are all still working on it. That soup sounds wonderful and I surely hope there was cornbread!

  19. Jack Darnell - June 9, 2019 5:17 pm

    I enjoyed your time in the rain. It is always good to think in the rain, and time does produce flavor…
    Sherry & jack

  20. Marci Welker - June 10, 2019 4:34 am

    You did it!

  21. James e inman - June 10, 2019 6:32 am

    Yes sir time equals flavor! I was a little to tart in my twenties and a bit sharp in my thirties. Mostly grown kids and my first divorce at 42 started to take the starch away. Colon cancer and another divorce at 57 and I started to smooth right out. Time will sure add flavoring! Give ya a big ol eye full what it’s too. Love a summer rain shower, it washes your regrets clean. Good soup will too.

  22. Janet Mary Lee - June 10, 2019 4:02 pm

    Thank you God for the rain, the soup, and Sean…and for the flavors of life!!

  23. Susan Tidmore Holley - June 11, 2019 3:41 am

    Sean Dietrich, I sure do like the way you string words together. You took me back to a rainy day on my grandparents’ farm in Arab, Alabama, around 1964. Sitting on the screened front porch, listening to the rain making music on the tin roof, smelling my grandmother’s cooking coming from the kitchen, I thought I had found Heaven on earth. I know now that I came mighty close.

  24. GigiBeth - July 10, 2019 12:02 pm

    The last three paragraphs sum it all up! And yes, I do believe time equals flavor … in all things, life especially. And rainy afternoons are balm for the soul, ah yes. Great story today!

  25. Russell McLaney - July 10, 2019 12:22 pm

    I remember how they introduced her on the Opry, COUSIN MINNIE PEARL!!

  26. Faye Pickering - July 10, 2019 5:35 pm

    I was right there on that porch with you. Got some not so great medical news and I lost myself on your porch with the pine trees and chicken soup. And wondering what flavor is going to simmer out of this little bump in the road.

  27. Joe Patterson - July 14, 2019 11:19 pm

    So true

  28. SHAY EADES - July 29, 2019 9:22 am

    Time equals flavor is Seasoned. Just like the chicken soup, Minnie Pearl was a seasoned lady.

  29. Harriet - December 15, 2019 1:44 am

    This is one of your very best.


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