Country Frame of Mind

by Carol Jarvis

Carol with her beloved Redbone Joe, TN, mid-1990's

Carol with her beloved Redbone Joe, Tennessee, mid-1990’s

Hideouts in the woods, lilacs in the spring,
Wearing a cigar band, pretending it’s a ring.

Dogwood blossoms and cut-off britches,
Skinned up knees and willow tree switches

Cats-eye marbles and spinning tops
Chewing fresh rhubarb, skipping river rocks

The feel of fresh plowed dirt between my toes
Telephone lines with ravens in a row

The taste of apple cider, cooled in the creek
Playing “Kick-the-Can”, being “it” for “Hide-and-Seek”

Toting my treasures in a burlap sack
Planting by the moon and the Almanac

Dusty country roads with hardly any traffic
The caw of a crow considered a racket

Weathered old out-houses, wispy spiders webs
Day dreams on the porch swing, critters to be fed

Goo Goo bars and a lantern for a light
Bathing in a wash tub on Saturday night

Red Rooster snuff, Prince Albert in a can
Lonesome train whistles and the ice cream man

Church box suppers, braided rugs on the floor

Apple butter boiling, penny candy from the store

Drinking Hires Root Beer and “Dickson Shine”
The cotton mill whistle means it quitin’ time

Bamboo fishing poles, sinkers made of lead
A ‘52 Ford truck with a solid oak bed

Dresses made from feed sacks, dandelion wine
Ripley tomatoes, heavy on the vine

Archie comic books and grassless yards
Homemade brooms and baseball trading cards

Watermelon pickles and sassafras tea
Lightning bugs winking by the chinaberry tree

“Lydia Pinkham’s” and cod liver oil
“Buffalo Tonic” and peanuts to boil

Corn cob pipes, out behind the barn
“Cat’s in the Cradle” with a ball of yarn

Scolding bluejays and lonesome whip-o-wills
African violets on the windowsill

Evening birds are calling, their melancholy sound
Blends with the music of a redbone hound

Listening to the “Opry” every Saturday night
Saying our prayers by the moon’s full light

Another place, another time

Carol Ann, Merlin, Tennessee Autumn

Carol Ann, Merlin, Tennessee Autumn

Precious memories put me in

A Country Frame of Mind


c 1995 – C. Jarvis-Kirkendall



GOODBYE JOE, excerpt from the coming novel GRACE AND DREAMERJoe & Shiloh

Jack sat on the porch bench, with the cold fingers of one hand wrapped around his hot cup of coffee. With his other  fingers he held up the famous “barrel photo” of Joe and their old friend from the past Shiloh, the Tennessee Tick Hound.  Jack looked away and noticed that Joe’s water dish froze over for the first time since the past winter.

Jack was pretty sure that he was going to call the vet and see when he could come by to help them with Joe. Jack talked with Doc’s receptionist, explaining the situation.  It was their hound Joe, and she talked to Doc, and he remembered Joe.  Everybody remembers Joe.  She called back and said Doc could be there about noon. Jack looked at Grace who was nodding yes. It happened that quick. The decision was made.

Jack sipped the coffee and reached for his journal. He knew he had to write his way through this. Joe was what Native People called Big Medicine, the red dog in one of Jack’s dreams in which he watched a red dog and a white dog fighting, unsure which dog would win.

Joe was a Healing Dog in Grace’s life for over fifteen years, the kind of dog you are lucky to know once-in-a-lifetime. Joe had slept on his bed on the floor next to Grace, side-by-side for nearly ten years. His Redbone talking always, always brought a smile and an outburst of pleasure from Grace. It had been an absolute joy to see him talk to her while she talked hound-talk to him, in the middle of the house in the middle of the day, and they both relished it.

Jack watched Joe close in on old age. In the last days, Jack carried Joe up and down the steps out of the bedroom, the steps on the front porch, and the steps off the back. Joe came to trust Jack in ways he never had before and would wait for Jack’s assistance whenever he needed it. Joe was able to do his daily hunt, just a much smaller circle in the end, and the old boy still got excited about finding new smells and following a trail.

No coons in the high desert of Apache Wells, Arizona.  Joe was a long ways from his birthplace of Bucksnort and the dense forests of Middle-Tennessee.  But Joe compromised and followed his nose tracking a rabbit or quail to its hiding place and flushing it. He just could not chase the critters and seemed at peace with that. Joe would find the place Jack dumped out the last little bit of milk and corn flakes days earlier. Jack stood in awe of the beauty of such creation.

As he sat quietly Jack searched for the words that might help him get through Joe’s death. He figured Grace was bound to take it hard. He held the pen respectfully and felt his journal’s pages flutter with the breeze.  As he always does, he let words bubble up, and he put them on paper, and they often flowed from his mind in illogical fashion. He found himself hearing the openning music of an old Hank Williams’ tune “Jambalaya.”  Then he wandered off into related thoughts and a major decision, and he wrote.


Goodbye JoeLittle Joe
 Me gotta go
   Me-oh-my-o . . .


With the melody in his head, Jack finished.

Are there Redbone Hounds in heaven?

      If not,
                  I ain’t goin’


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To hear the song in Jack’s head,

click the link below, pause, scroll down, and click it again.

Hank Williams 19 Jambalaya (On the Bayou)