Thursday, July 01, 2010


Tinney Talk, July, 2010

Click on any image to view it in larger format. One of the two front yard Chinaberry trees partly visible at right in photo. Note dense leaf cover.

Tinney Talk: Observations by Joe Dan Boyd

I THINK OF IT NOW AS “THE CHINABERRY REDEMPTION,” even if it happened a long time ago, when I was perhaps 10 years old, a mere boy with much to learn about everything, especially about life and the living of it, when my brother Tommy and I were being raised in the Old Tinney Home Place that our grandfather, Ambrose, had located and acquired soon after the arrival from Alabama of his growing family.

THREE CHINABERRY TREES DECORATED that homestead, one in the back yard, two in the front: All three were ancient and tall, with heavy trunks and strong boughs that easily held grown men intent on agrarian acrobatics, such as the manly art of “chinning” contests.

ON A LESS JOYOUS OCCASION, I approached one of those chinaberry trees in full leaf: oval, thin-veined, sharp-tipped, serrated leaves, reminiscent of keen edged knife blades, yet sleek, satin and gently wind-whipped, thickly gathered, deeply green, obscuring branches with dark shade. Nothing inside was at all visible to a young, eager eye.

SUDDENLY, A SOFT RUSTLE cleft a bright hole into that green night, fluttering on unexpected wings of morning: It was a majestic mockingbird in solitary flight, diving into the cover of that lush leaf, and just as suddenly disappearing, out of sight. No sound betrayed its lonesome presence: There was everywhere, yet nowhere, for it to hide!

THE BIRD NEITHER SAW NOR SENSED the inexperienced hunter, the small boy armed with stone and sling, sending a smooth pebble with the force of tightly drawn rubber strands to break a stout bird’s heart: death’s instant sting!

SUDDEN AND SHARP was the hunter’s shock, eyes filled with remorse, guilt, grief, as he retrieved the innocent, the fallen; his flowing tears were no real relief. So, with his brother, plans took shape to find a mourning box and resting site, a small spot under the tree, a hole to fill with prey and prayer contrite.

FALLEN TO FRESH EARTH was the now flightless bird: Its song silent, forever stilled; a mockingbird killed; but perhaps, like the soft spoken words of avian funeral sorrow, the hunter’s redemption was divinely willed. Amen!

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