Tennessee

We ate so much artisan cheese it will be a wonder if my lower intestines ever function again.

We arrived in Southeastern Tennessee at dusk. Our cabin was covered in a thin layer of frost. But no snow.

I was hoping for snow.

My good friend, Jim, lives in this area and tells me they have a coyote problem. So I am keeping my eyes peeled for anything that resembles scavenging canines near our cabin.

I have always had a looming feeling that coyotes are going to be what finally kills me.

Anyway, we are in Tennessee for a getaway to celebrate our fifteen-year belated anniversary. After I finished unpacking, my wife insisted that I build a fire.

So, I went outside into the cold to get firewood. I loaded an armful, keeping a lookout for ravenous coyotes. I think I saw one or two on the roof, but I can’t be sure.

On my way back inside, my foot slipped on a piece of ice. I was airborne. The last thing I remember is watching hickory logs fly upward into the night.

When I awoke, I saw my old Little League coach, Mister Whiting, standing over me, smoking a cigarette.

He said: “Get on your feet, and quit whining or the coyotes will eat you!”

“Yessir,” I said.

Then he popped my rear and said, “Can’t never could! There is no ‘I’ in team! Quitters never win and winners never quit! Have you called your mama? I wish I could call mine!”

It was obviously a hallucination, Mister Whiting has been dead for many years. I can’t remember how he passed, it was either old age or coyotes.

I finally got a fire going. A roaring fire does something to the primitive man in me. I love a fireplace, and when I tend logs I do it with the sincerity I would use to guard a bank vault.

I kept looking out the window for snow, but no luck.

The next morning, my wife had a full day planned.

Many wives enjoy leisurely vacations, but not mine. My wife prefers intensive, white-knuckled, non-stop vacationing. Meaning: if vacationing were an actual televised sport, my wife would be doing commercials for Nike.

We ate a big breakfast at the Smokehouse Restaurant, then we went to Sequatchie Cove Farm to take a cheese-tasting tour.

The dairy farm was beautiful, peppered with cattle, sheep, and greenery. We sampled gourmet cheeses in the creamery. We ate an assortment of bleus, natural-rinds, and reblochons.

The tour guide told us the history of each cheese variety and explained which wines pair best with which cheeses. For example: a 1997 Beaujolais Nouveau would pair nicely with a savory semi-soft washed rind cheese wrapped in fig leaves.

When I raised my hand to ask the tour guide if they had a cheese that paired well with a 2019 Natural Light beer, my wife almost broke my ribs.

We ate so much artisan cheese it will be a wonder if my lower intestines ever function again.

Right after the cheese-tasting, my wife wanted to go to supper. I wasn’t hungry because I was still digesting a block of cheese the size of the Dave Clark Five. Nevertheless, I agreed.

So we drove to Monteagle, and ate a large supper of fried chicken, collards, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, apple pie, and ice cream. My wife had to call for a wheelbarrow to roll me to the car.

Thus, after a full day of eating and exploring the majesty of the Volunteer State, we were finally ready to do what all exhausted tourists do after a long day. We went shopping for cast iron cookware.

South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, is home to the Lodge Cast Iron Outlet, a factory store offering 9,300 design variations of your basic skillet.

They have skillets of every kind, from everyday casual skillets to stunning spring-formal skillets. They have skillets made in the shapes of a largemouth bass, skillet decor, pocket skillets, concealed-carry skillets, and skillets with Dolly Parton’s autograph imprinted on the bottoms. My wife bought two of every kind.

Finally, we got back to the cabin. I crawled into the bed and almost fell asleep. But it was short lived.

“Go build a fire,” my wife said. “I’m cold.”

Well, you don’t always win every battle in marriage. I went outside and collected firewood against my will. But I’m glad I did because I saw something breathtaking.

White flurries, falling from the sky.

My wish came true. The adult in me was filled with childhood wonder and it brought a smile to my cold cheeks. It’s impossible to look at snow and not feel grateful for good food, good cheese, kind people, and the basic joys of life. I couldn’t have been happier if you filled me with butter.

But when I turned to walk inside, I slipped on a patch of ice. I fell face first onto the gravel. I was knocked unconscious, then attacked by a pack of fifty bloodthirsty coyotes.

No, I’m only kidding. There were only forty-nine.

It’s been a great fifteen years, Jamie.

42 comments

  1. Jack Darnell - March 7, 2019 6:47 am

    If ’em coyotes attacked you on your 15th jut imagine how it is going to be on your 62! Happy belated Anniversary. Have a great time up in Tennessee, but what in name of heaven are you on the web at this time of the morning. You r celebration should still be going on at your young age, hugging and kissing and stuff!. Now I am heading to bed…
    Nite.
    Y’all have a great time and watch that slick stuff, ‘ats ICE!
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  2. Rebecca Kinard - March 7, 2019 6:56 am

    Happy Anniversary ❤️ oh my, I laughed so hard at this story. I always end up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, they also have a Lodge outlet. Glad the coyotes didn’t get ya.

    Reply
  3. Toni Tucker Locke - March 7, 2019 7:51 am

    Tennessee is better for your having been among us. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. sparkerlpc - March 7, 2019 8:09 am

    Happy anniversary, y’all! Glad the coyotes didn’t keep you from uploading this!!

    Reply
  5. Estelle Sexton Davis - March 7, 2019 8:17 am

    Happy Anniversary 🥳🥰 Glad you and Jamie had a good time. I like snow when it is about 3 inches deep, stays around about 3 days and the roads are clear. We haven’t had a real snow in Nashville in many years. I will always remember Bear Bryant’s commercial for the phone company. I wish I could my mama too.

    Reply
  6. Roger - March 7, 2019 8:29 am

    My parents live in the mountains of Sequatchie county overlooking Dunlap. Beautiful country.

    Congrats on starting your 16th trip around the sun with Jaime, Sean!

    Reply
  7. Karen - March 7, 2019 9:24 am

    Happy Anniversary to you and Jamie. She will be able to fry up a lot of chicken with all that cast iron. Thank you for sharing your writing with us.

    Reply
  8. Melissa Shanafelt - March 7, 2019 11:15 am

    I live on a mountain above Dunlap, TN. Made the move from the crazy, urban sprawl of a Nashville suburb and have never looked back! There is a nice Coke Oven Museum in Dunlap if you find you have time on your hands.

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth Edens - March 7, 2019 11:48 am

    Agree, snow takes me back to my youth, and the possibilities that came with a snow day from school!!! “Happier than if you’d filled me with butter”, awesome!!!! Happy 15th!

    Reply
    • Jill - March 7, 2019 12:14 pm

      In my neck of the woods!! Take a trip to Tracy City too. Coal ovens at Grundy Lake. Beautiful and spellbinding. Make sure you stop in at Flury’s which is a old country store full of stories!!! And if ya’ll drive through Cowan, give me a hollar. *smile* Or wave.

      Reply
  10. Chrissy - March 7, 2019 12:33 pm

    Happy belated anniversary!

    Reply
  11. LeAnne Martin - March 7, 2019 12:39 pm

    LOL! Happy 15th! And many, many more.

    Reply
  12. Debbie Eppler - March 7, 2019 1:14 pm

    Happy, happy 15th anniversary! May you love each other more every day! God bless you both!!!

    Reply
  13. Diane Tuttle - March 7, 2019 1:24 pm

    Happy Anniversary! Did you see the big white cross on Tennessee Ave. in Sewanee? If not, it is worth another trip. It is a memorial for veterans and can be seen for many miles.

    Reply
  14. Carol - March 7, 2019 1:34 pm

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! YOU TWO ARE THE BEST
    GOD BLESSED YOU WITH EACH OTHER ,I HAVE NO DOUBT!!!❤️❤️❤️🙏🙏🙏
    Love ya!!

    Reply
  15. Sandi in FL. - March 7, 2019 1:37 pm

    Happy 15th Anniversary, Jamie and Sean, and may God bless y’all with many more!

    Reply
  16. Jess in Athens, GA - March 7, 2019 1:39 pm

    Congratulations on fifteen years of wedded bliss, may Jamie and you share another hundred years together.
    As far as coyotes…they are going to take over eventually. They eat everything they can catch in the wild plus small cats and dogs that are outside animals. They can live close to humans and go undetected until small cats and dogs start disappearing.

    Reply
  17. Andrea in TN - March 7, 2019 2:25 pm

    You are near my neck of the woods. Happy anniversary, y’all!

    Reply
  18. Connie Havard Ryland - March 7, 2019 2:25 pm

    Jamie vacations like I do-pack every second to see every possible thing there is to see. The Lodge cast iron shopping trip is right up my alley too. Happy Anniversary. You two make me smile and give me hope that real love does exist. Have a great trip. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  19. Johnny Parker - March 7, 2019 2:32 pm

    If vacationing was a televised sport, I would hope Jamie would not be doing commercials for “take a knee” Nike. As a patriotic American, I’m sure she would rather do commercials that honor our men and women in uniform and our flag.

    Reply
  20. Carolyn Allen - March 7, 2019 2:42 pm

    May God bless you and Jamie with many more wonderful years together and may God bless your readers with many more wonderful years of your writings. 💘

    Reply
  21. Lisa Howick - March 7, 2019 2:57 pm

    Hey, you’re in my neck of the woods – Sewanee, TN. Lemme know if you want a tour of the domain

    Reply
  22. Edna B. - March 7, 2019 3:02 pm

    Happy Anniversary to you and Jamie. May you be blessed with many more wonderful years together. You have a wonderful day my friend, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  23. Susan - March 7, 2019 4:15 pm

    Happy Anniversary! Coyotes indeed!! At least it wasn’t a Mountain Lion!!

    Reply
  24. Shelton A. - March 7, 2019 4:19 pm

    Happy Anniversary! I hope that the next 15 are as filled with coyotes, designer iron skillets, and all manner of cheeses as the first 15. A good mild cheddar is pretty good with a brew. God bless you and Jamie.

    Reply
  25. Mary T - March 7, 2019 4:45 pm

    There were reports of a rabid fox in our small town. My father accompanied my mother to a PTA meeting. He stepped outside on the dark side of the school for a smoke and noticed a crouching animal. Thinking it was the fox, he kicked it as hard as he could. It was a tree stump!

    Reply
  26. Charaleen Wright - March 7, 2019 5:40 pm

    Reply
  27. Nell Thomas - March 7, 2019 5:44 pm

    Coyotes can be a nucience – especially when they go after livestock and someone’s pets. A pack can sure awake you out of a deep sleep at night but usually only lasting for a brief period, giving you time to realize you in here and they out there, turn over and say “oh well it – just goes with the territory.”

    Reply
    • Nell Thomas - March 7, 2019 7:06 pm

      Correction- nuisance.

      Reply
  28. kathleenivy - March 7, 2019 6:14 pm

    Happy Anniversary! I hear that a well-swung skillet is good for keeping coyotes at bay. Cleats might help with the ice. I hear that the Vermont store has pairs that flick on with ease. Bless you and your dear wife.

    Reply
  29. Pat Thomason - March 7, 2019 6:45 pm

    Fine years ago we were on I-24 heading back to our home in Cleveland, TN after picking up our 6 year old granddaughter from the Nashville airport. She was very quiet sitting in her car seat and looking around as we drove down Monteagle Mountain. Then she suddenly exclaimed, “This is the most beautiful place in the “wuhld”. We agreed.

    Reply
  30. Margaret Vandall - March 7, 2019 7:05 pm

    I love this!! Your writings bring a smile to my face no matter how I’m feeling! Thank you

    Reply
  31. Brenda Pointer - March 7, 2019 7:07 pm

    Cheese is a good thing glad you enjoyed your trip

    Reply
  32. Kristine Wehrheim - March 7, 2019 10:54 pm

    Happy Anniversary!

    Reply
  33. Amanda P. - March 8, 2019 3:01 am

    Loved this one! I have an aunt who taught in Sourh Pittsburg TN. I think we went to the lodge outlet most every time we visited. Thank you for stirring up good memories Sean.

    Reply
  34. Clark Hining - March 8, 2019 3:04 pm

    I have thought of being a writer many times in my life but never followed through. I did manage to put a memoir of sorts together for my children. My memories of days from the road as a UPS delivery driver. But, if I ever do write more, I’d hope I could write like you . Your stories are compassionate and touching. Thank you and Happy Anniversary!

    Reply
  35. Jo Brooks - March 9, 2019 3:17 am

    Happy Anniversary, Sean and Jamie!! Keep the great stories coming and watch out for them there coyotes 🙂

    Reply
  36. Melanie - March 9, 2019 11:40 pm

    happy anniversary to two wonderful people ❤️

    Reply
  37. Kathy Coxwell - March 10, 2019 10:46 pm

    Happy Anniversary. At least you got the snow.

    Reply
  38. Marta Wood - March 11, 2019 10:03 pm

    Mark Twain Quote: The coyote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton. He has a general slinking expression all over. The coyote is a living, breathing, allegory of WANT. AND HE WANTS YOU, SEAN!!

    Reply
  39. Mary Lee Morris - March 14, 2019 10:12 pm

    I loved this one. I laughed out loud and had to quit reading when I read your description of the cast iron skillet varieties. That so describes most of that kind of store designed for the tourest. Funny, funny. Love all your ramblings.
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

    Reply
  40. Kathy - March 25, 2019 4:45 pm

    Hugs & Kisses (from an Old Lady)

    Reply

Leave a Reply