THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Burl Jr. the New Caretaker is the son of the most successful farmer in Paradise. Burl Sr. has been the local Farmer of the Year for so long the Farm Bureau’s talking about retiring the contest until he retires himself.
Burl Jr., on the other hand, has no interest in a life of the land. His thing is music, and listening to him play the guitar is like hearing an angel sing. He wants to take his show on the road, playing in small towns and working up to the Big Time.
That’s why he’s living in the trailer Gwen the Beautiful and I call the “Annex.” It’s closer to where he works at Paradise Music than his daddy’s farm, and he pays his rent by helping out here on the ranch so he can save as much money as possible to finance his Big Trip.
When Burl Jr. told me he was in love again I got to worrying about what effect that would have on his dream. Creative types need all the support they can get, and I could foresee problems galore if Burl Jr.s’ new lady didn’t understand him.
Last week I met Tera and learned there was no reason to worry. To my normally cynical eyes she was everything a Future Rocker Star of Tomorrow needs.
My first sight of her told the tale. Burl Jr. was sitting on a stool in the Annex, picking out a tune that, as Jimmy Blue might say, “like to make me weep,” and Tera, long, lean, and ash blonde, was seating cross-legged at his feet, gazing up at Burl Jr. raptly, her misty eyes filled with love.
We talked a bit, and I learned that Tera’s in her last year of college. Her major is education, but when I asked her if she was going to teach after she graduated she shook her head.
“It depends on Burl,” Tera said. “I’m here for him. A man as creative as he is needs all the support he can get.”
“Tera’s got a great plan,” Burl Jr. said. “Tell him, Tara.”
“I’m going on the road with him as soon as I get my degree. If he wants to settle down someplace, I’ll try and teach there. Otherwise, I’ll help however I can.”
“She’ll be a beautiful roadie, don’t you think?” Burl Jr. said. He gave Tera a kiss on the cheek. Her eyes closed, and she smiled.
I knew that reaction. Had just seen it a few moments earlier when I’d given a casual kiss to Gwen.
“I think you’re on to something,” I said.
But I remained concerned. The odds against Burl Jr. succeeding, no matter how good he is, are incredibly high. And there was the matter of his father.
Shortly after Burl Jr. moved to The Mountain, Sweet Jane ran into Burl Sr. in town.
“He’s not exactly pleased about the direction his son’s life is taking,” she told me. “I got the feeling he wished you hadn’t been so encouraging. I mean, it rang out loud and clear.”
Yesterday, at the Feed Store, who should call out to me on the loading dock but Burl Sr. himself?
“Hey! Brody! I want to talk to you!”
I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Burl Sr. thrust out his hand and shook mine vigorously.
“I got to thank you,” he said. “For the way you’re helping my boy.”
“You’re all right with his plan?”
“If he never reaches out and tries for the Big Harvest he’ll always wonder what he could’ve done, won’t he? He’ll be restless for all his days.”
“He can get hurt doing this, you know,” I said. “The kind of gut pain that comes when you lose something or someone you love.”
“You’re worried about that?” Burl Sr. said. “You care that much?” He slapped me on the shoulder. “Buck up, man! The boy’s gonna do fine. How can he not? After all, he’s my son!”
“Level with me, Burl. Did you always feel this way?”
The most successful farmer in Paradise looked embarrassed. “Not at first, no. Wished you’d never come to these parts. But I got to talking to Tera the other day, and she made a lot of sense. A creative genius like my son deserves all the support he can get. We’re all in this together, giving him what he needs.”
Here’s to Tera. More than a “beautiful roadie.”
So much more.