It was the year after the peanut crop failed that Lucille left me and the kids. We'd gone back to soy beans, back to normal by the standards thereabouts. But Lucille wasn't able to forgive that experiment, that exquisite moment of lunacy. We'd dared to be different. We'd tried and failed.

"Folks call me the Peanut Lady when they think I can't hear." she said. I told her that it was a backhanded compliment, a testament to her fortitude under adversity, but she disagreed. It was more like a scarlet 'A' she told me -- something that marked her as different than her neighbors, and somehow unclean.

She wasn't always so concerned with what other people thought. When we first decided to try peanut farming, she was more zealous than I. She bought little peanut themed souvenirs and nick-knacks. She was proud to be doing something bold and new. And she'd been a pillar of strength through all the travails that farming brings -- drought, blight, wheat rust, hail, wind, and government officials. But as that long, hot summer wore on and one kind of failure followed another, she lost faith, and then hope. The whispers and subtle taunts unhinged her. She became increasingly paranoid. The FDA, Planters Nuts, Jimmy Carter, even me -- we were all complicitous in a scheme to besmirch her good name. Finally she left, embittered and aloof, a ghost of the strong woman I'd wed.

So here I sit, alone, on our anniversary, an uneaten pizza on the kitchen table and an empty six pack standing sentry.

Lucille, I've thrown out all the nick-knacks. I'll never be bold or different again. Come home.

Homage to Kenny Rogers' hit song Lucille intended - but I have not borrowed the plot, only taken inspiration from the chorus. See Lucille for the official lyric, and Kenny's tale of another Lucille.

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