Y’all, this past weekend was full of highs and lows.
It started out great, cruising down the road with Clint on the trailer, Chris Stapleton on the radio, Helen playing in the backseat, and my beautiful bride riding shotgun checking GPS to see how much longer we had. We picked up my mama who laughed, sang, read to, and played with my firstborn.
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We’ve been burning up the highways, byways, and skyways for the last few weeks. Tonight, we are in Taylor, Mississippi. Tomorrow, @erinapier and I speak at the Conference on the Front Porch (@millatpleinair) along with some people much cooler than us. We towed Clint up here. @visitoxford #chevypullingchevy #mississippi
Shortly after arriving in Taylor, Mississippi, we had some of the best catfish in the land from Taylor Grocery. There I unloaded my trusty little blue truck from the trailer with no trouble at all.
We were there to speak at the Conference On The Front Porch. This is an annual 2-day event hosted at Plein Air and sponsored by Garden & Gun. People come from all over to participate in a celebration of the front porch. I was asked to bring my truck as a prop.
Friday morning, after Helen woke up an hour earlier than usual, I couldn’t get him to crank. After working for an hour trying to get him to fire, I decided to try and push the truck the 400 yards to the event. I started the truck down a hill, jumped in, and coasted to the Taylor United Methodist Church. I was halfway there. I called our assistant, Lindsay Miller, to tow me into position in front of the Mill at Plein Air. Now, we Napiers have grown up towing vehicles with chains. There’s an art to it. There must be two people in order to accomplish this, and I wouldn’t suggest trying it if neither of the two have any experience in the nuances of chain towing. I believe this was her first experience and with that in mind, Lindsay did great. I wonder when her next lesson will be?
This event was full of very important and very accomplished people. I do not believe any of the other presenters had to be towed in. Erin and I would speak on small town America and the importance of American Manufacturing. After all, when we think of small towns, surely the idea of neighbors waving and watching from front porches comes to mind.
We were followed by Beth Ann Fennelly, Mississippi’s poet laureate. Erin and I fangirled a little bit over her. She’s an incredible writer, and her book, Great With Child, helped Erin overcome her fears of childbirth. Then there was Garden & Gun editor, CJ Lotz. CJ spoke a little on the magazine’s short but successful history, and then told us the story of meeting P-Nut, the famous low country poet. Here we were rubbing elbows with these accomplished folks, and all I could think about was, “Why isn’t my truck firing? How am I going to get it loaded on the trailer? I wonder if anybody here has an electric tester?”
We then drove into Oxford for a bucket list moment with a full house at our Square Books book-signing event for Make Something Good Today.
For us, this is a big one. Square books is a special place for Erin and I, so to be there, signing our first book was incredible. This is something both of us had dreamed about being able to do since college. Richard bought us pizza to go at St. Leo, and it was back to Taylor as the sun was sinking low. We overate with my mom and Helen, and then got her ready for bed.
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors were playing a private show at Plein Air, and we decided to ride down for that. Still, here I was, in a small room, listening to an incredibly talented singer songwriter, and I was thinking, “how am I going to get my truck loaded?” It had been a long day for us, and was about to be along night for me. So, I took my bride back to our house, hooked to my trailer, and started the journey of getting my truck loaded.
I got to hear part of the show, except I was outside trying to get my truck loaded. I never could get it to run, and in trying to load it, I broke the rag joint. This is a coupler in the steering column that, once broken, renders the steering wheel useless. After two hours of crawling in a parking lot, jacking the truck up, turning the wheels by hand, hooking chains to my truck and to various other trucks, we got it loaded. I say “we” because there were half a dozen or so men coming out of the concert who helped me get it on the trailer. These men were mostly retired, and not dressed for working on an old truck, but they jumped right in there to help. Their wives were cheering and photographing from the sidewalk.
Saturday morning, I picked up breakfast from our favorite place, Bottletree Bakery. I sat at our table drinking coffee, retelling the story. My mom, my wife, and my daughter listened as they ate their cinnamon rolls, biscuits, and focaccia. We hit the road again for Jackson, Mississippi for a book signing at Lemuria Books that went off without any headaches.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many Garden & Gun events end with the attendees helping one of the guest speakers load a broken down old truck onto a trailer?