Tuesday, January 31, 2012


There will be times I need to name drop here, ya' know to impress you. 
Let's go ahead and consider this one of those times.

Yesterday afternoon at three o'clock I was granted an interview/photo shoot with the unofficial mayor of Como, MS. His name is Coal and the meet up was one of those things you don't tell anyone so you won't jinx it. Now it's done and we can talk about it. I can tell you what it is like to walk through Como with someone as important as Coal.

We had met before, always in passing with the typical brief introductions. He was polite, dignified, traits you would hope to befall a leader. This was to be more intimate, a get to know you we'll say and I was a bit concerned about his love or lack of for photography. Some are simply camera shy, modest maybe, and I understand. Most of all I think I was nervous about doing him justice in a feature piece. 

It helped we were meeting at one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Coal and his assistant, Kay, have run of the space when it's not reserved by guests. He sized me up when I got there and only moments later I felt welcome. The camera, not so much. But me, I was okay.

About ten minutes after my arrival we set out on a walk Coal does most every day.

It soon became obvious this stroll was an expected and welcomed ritual in the town. Just accompanying Coal gave me a certain ticket to the internal workings of the community. Everyone knew his name, couldn't help but smile when they saw him coming. The thought occurred to me that it wouldn't be such a bad thing if we all aspired to be more like Coal in those places we call home. Well, we can't all go behind the teller's counter at the bank or take a break with the local law enforcement. Not all of us could visit the town's art gallery and check on this week's installation for the upcoming show. Coal can.

I'll definitely be writing more about the show, the gallery. my obvious envy.
All I will say now is,
What? Crazy awesome.

Coal agreed, and we spent just enough time there to catch up with one of his closest allies, a younger, more energetic version of him. Before long he joined us and Coal took a break from business to go for a run. Still, I could tell he was trying to avoid the camera so I just sat and watched. It was an uncommonly beautiful day for January, and well, what are you gonna do? Relax, that's all. That's what Coal was doing.

We had time for Kay to tell me how she had met Coal, how he was supposed to hunt ducks and her husband, Rick, had said, Now Kay, Coal is a hunter. Soon after, during those early mornings when Rick would suit to leave, Coal was hearing nothing of it. He instead opted to get in a warm, cozy bed with Kay. Scandalous, isn't it?

Since then Coal has spent his years getting to know the town he serves, taking that daily walk. Kay remembered this last Thanksgiving, how they were strolling past a row of homes. A large family had gathered together for their meal when a young child spotted Coal through the window. It wasn't long till Kay heard the child's voice. Happy Thanksgiving, Coal, the little girl shouted.

I am sure he acknowledged her greetings, did his usual stop and give attention. There's a part of me though who thinks he thought of that day like any other. As if putting a special day aside for the giving of thanks seemed silly or absurd. It seemed to me that Coal takes every day to give thanks.

Our last stop was at the Como Green Grocer. Coal got one of the homemade treats for himself and sent one home to Billy Sue who now suspects I've been cheating. Yeah, okay, I kinda was but who could blame me? I mean, it was Coal.

Yes, I am grateful.


Anonymous said...

I know I aspire to be cole one day. very nice, that is a good narration with great photos. thanks.

your brother

Anonymous said...

Best yet. Continue the story?

Shea Goff said...

I hope to have many more walks with Coal as I, too, aspire to be more like him.

Thank you both for your encouragement.