Shannon Bardwell: It all started with the Boston butt

February 24, 2014 9:36:59 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


"A happy family is but an earlier heaven." 


--Sir John Bowring 




It's strange how in five minutes you may experience an event that, at least on some level, changes your life. It happened not a mile from the house.  


A few days before, Sam and I purchased a Boston butt from Austin Minichino. Austin is 6 years old and was raising money for his coach-pitch baseball team. Austin, as shy as he is, was exuberant talking about baseball. We bought the butt. 


I planned to cut part of the meat off and save it for Sam. For the other part I had this idea that I should give it to our neighbors, the Carpenters.  


I heard through the grapevine that Dawn Carpenter had just delivered her seventh child, Tobias. It seemed neighborly to contribute a gift of nourishment to the family and give Dawn a break. It would have been even better if I could have provided an entire meal, but lacking in culinary talents the Boston butt seemed like a good idea. Be mindful, I was only going to give the Carpenters part of the meat, thus saving the effort of cooking for Sam. 


That morning during the Sunday service, while the preacher was talking about I don't know what, a thought, an idea, a sentence, came out of nowhere. "Give the Carpenters all of the meat." 


Well, of course, what was I thinking? Why would I keep any of the meat at all? 


I had yet to mention anything about the Carpenters or the meat to Sam. Further, I had never actually met the Carpenters. I knew people who had met the Carpenters and all told of the wonderful times they had visiting with Dawn, her husband and the seven children. 


After church Sam and I changed into our warmest clothes to head to the deer stand. "Sam, first I want us to go over to the Carpenters' and give them the Boston butt." 


Instantly, without hesitation, Sam said, "That's a great idea, but let's hurry so we don't lose our daylight." 


We arrived at the Carpenter's where two children were playing in a homemade clubhouse. A third, older child, walked toward us like a greeter. The children were as fresh-faced and wholesome as cherubs. Sam called out, "We are the Bardwells."  


Nathaniel, the youngest, was hanging from the clubhouse. "You wrote about me," he said.  


Well, yes, I did but I didn't think he would know that. 


Inside we met the entire family. The house was warm and cozy. Shawn, a teenager, sat on the couch cradling Tobias in his lap. As far as I saw there was no television or any distraction. Shawn simply stared at his new brother sleeping.  


Outside, Nathaniel hollered, "Come see the clubhouse." 


"Built out of wooden pallets," Mr. Carpenter explained.  


"Perfectly square," Sam admired. 


Our admiration extended to the feeling of contentment, satisfaction and sheer happiness. We took a little with us.

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.