It was not long ago that I didn’t know where I came from.
You could have told me that I sprung up from an old gopher hole, roots snapped off so I could have toes and walk, and I would have believed you. I was born here. I lived here. I am still here. I am somehow still breathing despite my rough and rowdy ways.
Not long ago I would never have used the word “rowdy”.
A record with tiny type somewhere in some office can tell you where you were born, but that’s not the same thing as being From somewhere. Because if you spend enough/too much time walking around with gopher-hole feet in a city you will contract the disease of a place. You will itch all over. The smell will get in your hair. And when you eventually realize what being “a native” means, you will suddenly find yourself explaining to someone from Toronto how banjos sound like gold: they are "bright" and they can run like rabbits if you let them. Light-footed strings. It feels natural to find this beautiful. It is osmosis that gets into the marrow and passes the lipid layer because I have walked to all my favorite places in Louisville without shoes, and I’ll tell anyone wherever I happen to go that you can look at me and know Kentucky just a little bit. Sort of.
It’s where I’m from, at least, and I Know that now, and it feels good and gold and rabbity and right.
Join Kentuckian Bobbie Smith Bryant as she serves up her own slice of Bluegrass heritage with her new book of food and family, Passions of the Black Patch: Cooking and Quilting in Western Kentucky. Find her tomorrow, Saturday May 11th, at Carmichael’s Bookstore for a special reading and signing of fond Kentucky memories.
Hailing from a farm in western Kentucky – the “Black Patch” region that has been Home to the Smith family for generations – Bobbie Smith Bryant brings the traditions from her roots to the pages of her new book. Containing some 200 family recipes, colorful heirloom quilts crafted by hand and plenty of rich anecdotes, Passions of the Black Patch offers readers a decadent bite of our Bluegrass from the eyes of a native. Bryant will visit the Frankfort Avenue store starting at 7pm. Copies are available at both locations in hardcover for $24.95.
Yesterday I walked. Walk Main Street. Walk to the river. Walk along and all over and up and down again and again down the ugly concrete wharf of the Ohio with the Wild Shopping Carts that swim and rust and the white bellies of drift wood. Walk under the belly of I-64. Walk ad nauseam. I had to take my shoes off because of blisters. So yesterday I walked barefoot and I was surprised by how cold concrete and brick and asphalt and cement can feel under you. Cool, textured, damp – like dead wet leaves cured to stone. I am gopher-hole-root-footed, and a native.
Carmichael’s Bookstore has two area locations: 1295 Bardstown Road and 2720 Frankfort Avenue. For more information, visit the event page or call the Frankfort Avenue store at (502) 896-6950.
Image: Courtesy of Carmichael’s Bookstore website www.carmichaelsbookstore.com