“Uncle Owen! You’re right on time.”
“Hey there buddy, jump in. Your grandmother packed an apple and some nuts for you so we could go straight to the woods. We should be able to get at least an hour hike in before twilight catches us and we have to get back to the cabin to clean up before dinner tonight.”
“You mean I don’t have to go home before dinner? Cool.”
“I already have our glad rags at the cabin. So we can do a loop on the Appalachian Trail. How does that sound to you?”
“Are we going to walk the ridgeline?”
“Yep, that was my plan.”
Eric told Owen about 8th grade. Homework was a drag. His history teacher was cool. Who knew that all those old gray hair guys who started America were such radicals? He and his buddies had found a great place to fish that was only a 20 minute bike ride and hike from their houses. He was top scorer in all the video games they played. Grandpa was taking him to Pittsburgh to see the next Steelers game against the Ravens.
Owen listened remembering that one of the things he had loved about his grandfather was his ability to just listen. Eventually Eric’s head of steam wore out.
“So Uncle Owen, what’s it like living in a disaster area?”
“Eric, I live in a city you know? They have an NFL Football Team and a huge stadium.”
“Yeah, but it’s a disaster area right?”
“Eric, what do you think you know about New Orleans?”
“Well its all below sea level so the houses are on stilts and the people are all poor and they have bad schools, folks probably shouldn’t be living there….
“Whoa…. Where in the world are you getting your information?”
“Well, the TV, Dad, Aunt Lisa, Grandma, ….”
“Ok, I get it. Eric, ever heard a Los Angeles or San Francisco?”
“What do you know about them?”
“Well L.A. is where Hollywood is and San Francisco is where the Golden Gate Bridge is and oh yeah they both have earthquakes.”
That’s what he was looking for. “Eric, do you think all the people in L.A. or San Francisco should move because one day there will be a horrible earthquake?”
“Well, no it seems kinda silly to leave your home for something that might happen.”
“Do you think that all the people who live in Florida next to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico should all move away because of Hurricanes?”
“Well no”. Owen could see the wheels were turning so he gave Eric a minute before he launched.
“Eric, New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the nation. It was a city before America was America. It has a rich culture and a history unlike the rest of America which makes it unique and special. New Orleans is where Jazz was born. It is a critical US port city. Most of the steel in America moves through the port of New Orleans. It's the top port for natural rubber & coffee. Almost 30% of the Crude Oil & more than 30% of the Natural Gas comes through Louisiana's coasts. 40% of all the seafood consumed in America comes from Louisiana. New Orleans is there for a reason, not just because the people were too stupid to build a city somewhere else. New Orleans has the most amazing food at even the smallest neighborhood restaurants. The people there are some of the warmest, friendliest, most down to earth people you'll ever meet. And based on what they've been through some of the toughest too.“
"OK, OK. Uncle Owen. Wow. I get it. Really. Jezz, You sound like the History Channel."
"Sorry buddy, but I have listened to people say the most ridiculous and mean spirited things about my adopted home. Promise me that before you just take someone else's opinion as your own that you'll do a little digging around first."
He grinned. "Now you sound like my history teacher. But, OK Uncle Owen, I promise".
They walked on until they reached the top of the ridgeline and stopped where Grandpa Eric had always stopped. It was a great view of the valley and the tree colors changing made for a beautiful panorama. They soaked it in, had a snack and headed back to the cabin to get cleaned up and dressed for the party.