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
As I write this, Paradise is having its worst drought in thirty years. We’re in the sixth week of 90 plus degree heat accompanied by humidity of under thirty percent.
My riding mower broke down last month, but I haven’t needed it. The grass hasn’t grown an inch in that time, although it did turn the same color as my new straw hat. And last week the water from our well started coming up mud.
Local rivers and lakes are in trouble too. The Buffalo National River, just a few miles from our place, might as well be called the “Buffalo National Shoal.” No point in floating it when you can just walk downstream.
And, speaking of walking, I’ve been sidestepping around for weeks filled with guilt. Because until yesterday I was convinced the cause of this terrible situation was—me.
It was a couple of months ago when I opened my big mouth. I was sitting by our pond, marveling at the cattails, and suddenly realized how much I was sweating from the humid air.
The walk down to the water had taken just a few minutes, but my body’s waterworks were opened so wide I felt as though I’d been working outside all day.
I looked to the southeast, where the Summer Wind comes from, and I gave it a piece of my mind. “Wind!” I called out. “Why are you torturing me? Why bring me to the most beautiful place on earth and then make me too hot and wet and exhausted to enjoy it?”
I pointed across the road, where some neighbors were camped out. “See those people? Peggy and John and their two kids? They’re living in a tent because it’s too miserable in their house! They deserve better, don’t you think?
I stood up. Yelled louder. “How about it, Wind? All I ask is a little physical comfort for those of us who live here. It gets just as hot in New Mexico. And in Southern California. But it doesn’t feel nearly so bad.
Because it’s dry there. This humidity’s too much. If you love us how about drying Paradise out?”
I waited. At first there was no answer. Then I heard a screech. Looking up, I saw a golden eagle overhead, flying into the forest. It screeched again. Was this an answer? Was the Wind speaking to me?
The next day was a hot one. Over 80 degrees by nine a.m. I went outside to groom the horses and give them their mash, then ambled over to the chicken yard, clucking what I can remember of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik as I always do.
When my second son was a toddler Mozart always delighted him, and the chickens respond almost as well as he did. I collected half a dozen eggs and went back to the house. As I stepped up on the front porch I realized something.
I wasn’t sweating.
Not one little bit.
It was dry outside. Dry enough to be—I forced myself to think it—comfortable.
And it stayed comfortable all day, in spite of the heat. Since then, the temperature has gotten higher and higher, but the humidity has remained down in the Comfort Zone. Just like New Mexico. And Southern Cal.
My first reaction was, “Thank you! Thank you! You’ve helped us all!”
But as time wore on I understood the truth. Comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean good. No humidity is one thing. No rain is something else. There’s trouble in Paradise, and if this goes on longer the trouble will get worse.
So yesterday morning I sat down on the bench again. And I said, “Wind, I’m sorry. I pulled the old, ‘If you love me you’ll do such and such for me’ stunt, the worst thing a parent or child or lover can do. How can I fix this? How can I set things right?”
This time the Wind answered in words that spun the surface of the pond into ripples like laughing waves:
“Chill, dude. You can’t blackmail the Wind. The seeds of the drought were planted months before you put in your request. You haven’t gotten what you asked for, but you’ve learned what you needed. That’s how life works.”
Well, of course. How could I have thought I had such power? The drought will end when it ends, for the same natural reasons it began. Unless—
Let’s see. Blackmail’s out. But what about pleading? Maybe threats…?