Because the best cure for cold-weather boredom is a warmhearted story (and there’s nothing better than unearthing an untold tale that comes with an underlying lesson) I present you the sweet and true story of Gable and Luke.
This story came to me a few years ago after I mentioned to a dear reader-friend, Ed, that I needed some photos of a mule for a book video. Since I didn’t know any mules personally at the time, that was a bit of a problem. Little did I realize that my intrepid friend would set out on an adventure with his pocket camera that very week in search of a willing, photogenic, and long-eared subject. Ed did, indeed, come back with a treasure:
You may already be guessing, by looking at the abundance of snowy white hairs on this old fellow’s face, that he’s got quite a story. Here’s the tale as Ed related it — Lisa
Let me tell you about my day. We have a Farmer’s Market, here, on the other side of town. During the summer months, on Saturdays, farmers bring their produce to sell and it’s always crowded with people like me wanting to get one more taste of a real tomato, get one more pan fried, fresh Okra, one more ear of sweet corn that just falls off the cob and is so delicious. So I went to the Farmer Market early this morning.
At each of the booths, I looked at the produce and asked if anyone knew somebody who owned a mule. You can guess the looks I got. Each booth had the same story, i.e. that farmers couldn’t make a living using a mule. They had tractors.
Finally I got to the last booth, bought okra, peaches, and tomatoes. The booth was manned by three black farmers — a young boy, and older boy, and a middle age woman. I asked the question about a mule and explained that I needed a picture for the best writer in the country. They talked back and forth and then the woman remembered that their Uncle had a mule that he used to farm his land. I asked where he lived and they gave me the name of the community, which is some distance away. I ask if he had a phone and the answer was no. I shook the woman’s hand and asked her name, and we discovered that we both have the same last name. What a coincidence!
She gave me directions and I left on my journey.
I went right to the farm — didn’t have to stop for directions or turn around. I had no problems finding it. The farm was on a dirt road and the house was very old. A man was sitting on the porch with his dogs. I introduced myself and asked if he still had his mule. He took me out to the barn and called the mule and the mule came up to us so I could take his picture. The farmer’s name is Gable. He’s eighty-four years old and still farms some 8 acres with the mule. The mule’s name is Luke. He’s thirty years old. Gable got him when Luke was just eight years old.
There’s so much more to this story! We talked for over an hour about so many things. He’s been on that farm for over forty years. Only Luke and Gable to do the work. Gable’s wife has been dead for a long time. He has no tractor, no telephone. He has a radio. He talked about the importance of being debt free. The last thing he ever went into debt for was the land and the mule. Neighbors told him that if he planted melons, he could make enough money to pay off both in seven years, and he did. He has been debt free ever since. He did not have a television and said he never could see a reason for one.
He’d always been content, just with what he had.
What a wonderful visit!
So there, my friends, you have the tale of Gable and Luke, a story of hard-working business partners who resisted the pressure to change with the times. In this rush-and-achieve world, there’s a lesson in that for all of us, I think.
The grass isn’t always greener in the next pasture over. Sometimes, you’re knee deep in corn shucks, right where you are.
Happiness doesn’t come from getting more, but from appreciating what we already have.
And maybe, if we’re lucky, sharing it with one good friend.