I met John when I was in the ninth grade. He was too old and wise for me.
His Grapes of Wrath was too detailed and wordy. I only liked the “Turtle Chapter.”
Years later, I was so engrossed in the Joads’ struggles that I skipped the turtle.
We met again while I was in college. His Red Pony broke my heart.
The short story “Junius Maltby” made me a more empathetic teacher.
I read The Log from the Sea of Cortez while in graduate school.
I could smell the sea and hear the seagulls. It was such an adventure.
An older, fellow biologist sharing his life at sea.
“Travels with Charley” took me places I had never been while in my thirties.
I am traveling with Charley again. I have been to these places now.
My experienced eyes recognize the land and the people.
He has been a great traveling companion over the years.
Now I know, he was not some brilliant, mysterious, older man.
He was just a real person looking closely at life and recording it for the rest of us,
who were too young, inexperienced or busy to notice these things for ourselves.
I still love him,
but now we are just friends.