Old Ties and Companions

The title here is from a Mandolin Orange song with lyrics that are quite melancholy, but the music and title make me think warmly about old friends, so it works here.

The first time I drove up to Iowa with Tracy, I was overwhelmed by his high-school friends: their sheer number, how many of them still know each other, better than ever, even, and hang out, and help each other through life’s changes. They’re still tight, and Tracy is welcomed back even just this one weekend a year as if he’d never left.

One of these friends, Ron, came by the camper yesterday very generously on his day off, and with donuts!

We sat (distanced) and caught up and swapped stories and generally just visited, so pleasantly that when I hopped into the trailer for a minute, I saw that we’d been sitting out there yapping for four hours, two hours past lunch. Woops.

Ron suggested we drive out to a local ice cream place because they have the sandwich Iowa is known for: huge pork tenderloin fried and placed laughingly on a regular-sized bun. And theirs has been voted best by Iowans, so we had to go there. Plus all their meat is from the local meat locker, which I’ll have to explain what the heck that is in another post because I’m still wrapping my head around it.

So we took a scenic drive with green fields on either side of us, plus a stop at a highway intersection so we could agree on where we were. I’m told that’s a thing in Iowa, to get out of your car and talk to people at intersections, and there right beside us was a great example: several guys on motorcycles pulled over for a conference. A lady who needed to drive through just rolled her eyes and patiently eased between us all, pedestrians, bikes, and trucks. No honking, no cussing. This is the Midwest.

Back to the food though. After picking up sandwiches and homemade malts, we drove to Ron’s house and had a picnic in his back yard. I had sausage in a bun from the meat locker (surprisingly served loose, and yummy), and Tracy went for the tenderloin.

You can tell he didn’t like it at all.

Bummer is that I didn’t take a photo of Ron’s back yard, which pulled me into contemplation with its sloping greenery down to a pond—it charms you into a calm state, and I just couldn’t move my eyes away.

Of course that could have had something to do with the huge sausage sandwich and perfect onion rings and cherry malt I’d just inhaled.

When we parted, there were no hugs due to the virus, which was sad because Ron and Tracy are old friends who rarely see each other, and now Ron and I are new friends.

Plus I realized I’d totally failed as a host when Ron had been back at the campground visiting: we sat ourselves in our stations (lawn chairs) to keep a distance from each other, and I never even thought to offer water or to point where the campground bathrooms are or to say, “Let’s go for a walk,” or anything. I’m sorry, Ron! I need to up my socially-distant hosting game, clearly.

It truly was a pleasure to hang out.

As usual when I’m fully engaged in something I forget to take pictures, so despite excellent company, I have shots mostly of pork. Duh.

And the image at the very top is from Lincoln’s New Salem of a forest of Cottonwood trees. Its green shade and white fluffy floor complement my impressions of Old Ties and Companions.

8 thoughts to “Old Ties and Companions”

  1. I’m glad you had such a nice visit. And I think Tracy’s sandwich has the perfect pork to bread ration!

  2. I can’t belive people stop and chat at intersections. Makes me want to see in person…

  3. What a lovely post, Shelly! I’m happy to see you both. I will figure out another delicious Iowa treat for you two next time! It really was a beautiful afternoon. I look forward to your next post in the adventure . . .