Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Clinton 42031

Nancy, Zach and I are looking forward to nephew John Pyron's wedding in Louisville in June. So far wedding family events have far outnumbered funerals, fortunately. It will be delightful to see these folks again; Nancy's family is somewhat odd because they are all bright, fun, honest-as-the-day-is-long people. Just imagine that they are all just like Nancy.
John is Tommy and Cherry Pyron's only child, and is clearly an acorn from the family oak: he is musical, extremely intelligent, resilient and positive. His parents have three master's degrees between them and John is completing his. He and fiancee Katie are trekking the San Juan de Compostela pilgrimage route through northern Spain for their honeymoon, and the family has worked on Habitat for Humanity projects at home and in Estonia -- like the residents of Lake Wobegon, they're obviously above average.
The Pyrons live in the southwestern tip of Kentucky near the Mississippi, outside of Clinton, the county seat of Hickman County. U.S. Route 51 runs north-south through town. The game out there is soybeans and corn, chickens and hogs. It's green, peaceful, inexpensive, and if there are any nasty people there, I haven't come across them. The weather can be extreme, tornadoes recently tore up large areas to the south, and you'd better stay healthy because medical care is 20 - 40 minutes away. The city itself is declining in population, now at 1,331. The old courthouse, pictured above, has a few employees and probably not much business (and the cost of living index is 74.4 vs. an average of 100 for the U.S.). Real estate taxes average a few hundred a year. Nothing much changes, except for half a block of aged downtown buildings falling over into the street a few years ago. A brick house, 1 bathroom, is currently on sale for the area median price of $57,000. The crime index is around 40 (U.S. average, 320).
Cherry went to high school in Clinton when her father was pastor of the Methodist church (the center of social activity, as you can imagine). She and Tommy moved there long ago from New Hampshire which they found had a growing season of about three weeks, bought some rolling farmland for a song, and built their own house, which they have enlarged upon several times. They built a cool partly-open barn which once housed an amusing variety of chickens and lounging cats. I learned that those birds will eat a dead snake, weeds, or watermelon rinds up in a minute. Truly the descendants of dinosaurs! The last animals there, in a fenced pasture, were sheep, led by a large and far too intelligent ram named Bob. Life would be poorer if we had never made his acquaintance. Once we all went out to get a couple of piglets which would be raised over the summer for their ultimate destiny at the dinner table -- let me tell you, catching a piglet is very skilled work, and those porkers made monkeys of us.
Nancy and I were married in their front yard in 1979 under two century-old oak trees. The trees have succumbed to age and storm, and we've got a little wear and tear ourselves. We spent all of $100 on the whole thing, picking the flowers across the road at the disappearing foundations of an old farmhouse no one remembers having been there, going all the way to Tennessee for wine, and serving delectable smoked turkey from Harper's Hams on Highway 51.
While the short, informal ceremony was going on, a group of escaped pigs trotted up the driveway towards the garden to wreak a little mayhem, in total silence. Cherry noticed them and chased them away with a broom (each pig outweighed her by at least twice, but they obeyed). The music was Resphigi on reel-to-reel tape, and the reception out back included fresh melon balls. You can't have a summer event in the South without watermelon. Just won't do.

1 comment:

  1. This is just too sweet; you make the Pyrons proud ;-)