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.
Once, 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 was 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 answered, ‘Teacher, 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.
Te - October 5, 2021 7:24 am
Carol M - October 5, 2021 8:02 am
Now That was good.
Sue - October 5, 2021 9:08 am
I wouldn’t be who I am today without all my yesterdays…..time equals flavor indeed
Alice - October 5, 2021 9:40 am
Thank you so much for sharing this. It is one of my absolute favorites of yours. Reeltown was very special as well as all the angel stories. But this one really inspired me.
Barbara - October 5, 2021 10:40 am
“A million acres of pine saturated by Heaven”. I’m going to use that . . . Or is that plagiarism? I wrote it down and can almost smell it. Beautiful peaceful description and way to express your rainy morning.
Joan Moore - October 5, 2021 10:45 am
And I hope your Daisy was delicious!
Keloth Anne - October 5, 2021 12:24 pm
It’s rainy here and I’m reading your wonderful morning words. And “time equals flavor” —so true—in taste of foods, life and lasting friendships.
Thank you for another great one ♥️♥️
Suellen - October 5, 2021 12:25 pm
This reminded me of our trips to the Smokies and the smell of the pines. Oh how I love it there especially sitting out on the cabin porch beside a mountain stream and watching the sun rise. Rain on the cabin roof is an added blessing. Not being a farm girl I probably always took the rain for granted until a few years ago when we had a serious drought. No rain for weeks on end. All the flowers and plants died no matter how I tried to keep them watered. The trees were even stressed. My dogwood tree died. We all watched the weather and they would predict rain that never materialized. The first day it rained I ran out in the yard and danced in it. Yes rain is a gift from heaven.
PAMELA Mills - October 5, 2021 12:29 pm
Your last few paragraphs spoke to my soul this morning! Looking back and knowing that the sum of our experiences did, perhaps, make a difference along the way is inspiring. Much of what you write inspires me and challenges me to be a better person. Today, while it is raining in Moody, I will engage in introspection of all the “flavors” that my 69 years have seen! God bless you! Keep writing…..we need your words every morning!💗☔️🌧💗
Nancy M - October 5, 2021 12:39 pm
You did it! And very well!
I had just read Isaiah 55 before reading your column. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth, and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth. It will not return to Me empty, …”
Jan - October 5, 2021 12:41 pm
Judy Waldrop - October 5, 2021 1:23 pm
Frogs come in pulses yes they do.
Lucretia - October 5, 2021 1:34 pm
Excellently done, Sean. What a gift you have. What flavors my soul is enjoying.
sparrowtracks - October 5, 2021 1:44 pm
I want that soup recipe!
Tim Peace - October 5, 2021 1:47 pm
Yes…ordinarily I would say that I like rainy days…but not when I’m on vacation not far at all from you. It’s been two years…and the first time we’ve been rained out in October. Anyway…loved this…especially Minnie’s jokes. Finally…a phrase I often quote on vacation…”All we’ve got is time.”
Cynthia Russell - October 5, 2021 1:53 pm
I Love The Rain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I believe it is a gift from God sending it to me because He knows how much I love it.. I learned to drive in the rain … in Mobile Ala it rains practically every day from 3-5:30 when you get off work & hit the interstate to go home.. You Get Good driving in the rain.. I am the designated driver in all trips, outings, & life when it rains.. it doesn’t slow me down but because of my blue eyes I need to wear my shades when it rains – the glare is terrible to blue eyes & you can see so much clearer in the haze of the rain… When people complain about all the rain.. I say.. “it’s my fault .. I so love the rain & God Loves Me.. Thank You Sean.. I can sense your rain & the peace you have there.. enjoy that chicken soup!
Melanie - October 5, 2021 1:54 pm
Embarrassed to mention Minnie Pearl? Never. She is a national treasure. And rain is a treasure too. And froggies 🐸.
Paul McCutchen - October 5, 2021 1:55 pm
I was looking out the back window hoping my collards make it through all this rain. I like chicken soup but corn bread and collards is also special to me.
AlaRedClayGirl - October 5, 2021 2:13 pm
I’ve got the window open listening to a gentle rain here in North Alabama. I have to agree with you, rain is a gift to farmers. That being said the last gully washer we had, washed my husband’s newly planted field into the Tennessee River. He has since replanted it so I am hoping this rainfall will only be a slow ground soaker. And ‘ve got my own “Daisy” in the oven to slow cook all day. Actually, I don’t name our farm animals that will go on the table, it’s just too difficult. You are so right though – “time does equal flavor” – in more ways than one.
Sherry McGinley - October 5, 2021 2:14 pm
Thank you Sean. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for sharing the simple things of life.
My dad passed away on August 26th and the flavor of his life was precious to me and those that had the honor of knowing him. One of 10 children born in 1933 in a little shack in Mize, Mississippi. It took time, but he was full of flavor.
Love you Sean.
Sherry, country girl in Mississippi
Gayle Wilson - October 5, 2021 2:52 pm
Sean, once again you mold together humor with life and give us words to ruminate over.
Tammy S. - October 5, 2021 2:56 pm
You work magic with a pen to paper, Sean!
Love this one, love rainy days, love a good chicken soup, love dinner conversation over a good bowl of soup on a rainy fall day, love the smell of the earth on a rainy day, love the slow pace and truly love that you reminded us of all these things and for adding deep flavor to all our lives through your posts. Thanks
Nancy Crews - October 5, 2021 4:06 pm
❤your writing. I agree….
Richard - October 5, 2021 4:44 pm
Sean, you are one cool writing machine. New phrase for your consideration: “Sean equals flavor.”
Karen - October 5, 2021 4:49 pm
A rain falling on the roof, a little thunder and lightning, the of wet soil and the fields, listening to the sounds of nature. It is a day to read a good book. Thank you.
Linda Chapman - October 5, 2021 4:52 pm
Beautiful! You always touch my heart with your words…..
Verna Kays - October 5, 2021 5:09 pm
Perfect on this day,for me Sean…I needed this ..
Larry J Wall - October 5, 2021 6:27 pm
Amen to your closure with Jamie’s beautifully revealing thought and words. And, Sean, the simplicity of the thoughts that you put into these words are destined to be some of your bests. Just my humble opinion, of course, but one based on a whole lot of time and this one has the right flavor to please all who digest it. Pat the dogs for me.
Helen Taylor Andrews - October 5, 2021 6:52 pm
I went to bed last night before reading your story for the day. It was worth the wait when I read it today! Soup, rain, and time. Someone to share your life with. That’s what good about life. Having someone to talk with, eat with, or ride the back roads. Food equals love and always has. Hugs and love to you & Jamie!
iamjmwilson - October 5, 2021 6:55 pm
It is raining here and I was just about to put a chicken in the pot for chicken soup. Then I realized that chicken is frozen and I wouldn’t have time to make the soup. Then I sit down to read your words today. Jamie is exactly right; I must wait on the soup til I can start earlier with a non-frozen bird. Thanks to you and Jamie today for your words of wisdom and soul delight on this rainy Carolina day. Good job Sean!
Linda Moon - October 5, 2021 7:45 pm
I can smell the soup as I’m reading your little sentence. That’s a great combination any time: soup-smelling and reading. Front-porch-sitting and rain are good pairings, too. And I love the TIME the Great Cook has given me. The ingredient of daily columns I read adds lot a lot of flavor to my LIFE. Thank you, Cook!
Linda Moon - October 5, 2021 7:48 pm
P.S. lotalot…I just coined a new word there. LOTS of flavor is added from Sean of the South!
MAM - October 5, 2021 8:15 pm
I had to laugh at the baby-boy, baby-girl joke. I remember my neighbor telling me what her four-year-old daughter told her. “Mom, I know how to tell the difference between girl dogs and boy dogs.” Her mother waited with concerned breath before she got the answer. “Girl dogs have longer hair.” Whew! Time equals flavor. Jamie, too, has a way with words, and you, Sean, worked them in very well.
Paul Moore - October 5, 2021 10:03 pm
Minnie Pearl might have been from Centerville TN. not far from where I live now But when you delve into what and who she really was you might not God bless her so much. She was a prude snotty arrogant B word. Highly educated and trained actress who took the simple country people she grew up with and mocked them right to the bank. HOWDEE 💲💲💲
Paul Moore - October 5, 2021 11:16 pm
Sorry. I apologize for my Minnie Pearl rant. She was like all of us Complimented. She was a good person. And great actor. I just wanted folks to know she was not a poor country darling but a born rich educated girl that was acting country dumb. She did bless us with her talent.
Russell Moulton - October 6, 2021 12:13 am
Good good good…love this one and I do smell the pine!
Barbara J Schweck - October 6, 2021 12:27 am
Oh my goodness, I can just hear Minnie Pearl telling these jokes!! The glorious inflections of her voice. A true, clean comedian that our family all watched together on the tv! Thanks for the memories!
Debbie g - October 6, 2021 10:39 am
Awesome thought Sean. All of our life flavors Love you sharing with us. You are one of our flavors that make us better people Love to all
elizabethroosje - October 7, 2021 3:27 am
Oh that’s a lovely column, peaceful, graceful and boy I need some rain and chicken soup. Bless you Sean.
Debbie - March 28, 2022 10:53 am
I have always said the smell of rain on the earth is the smell of Heaven. That and wild Alabama Oakleaf Hydrangea in bloom. I’m on my way to make a pot of chicken soup. Thank you for the beginning of a beautiful day!