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
Whew! What a wonderful week I’ve had! One of building and fixing and tending and going and going and going till I drop, and loving it all.
Who could ask for anything more?
Back when I went to an office and was yelled at by just about everyone everyday I found solace in the writing part of the job. I felt as close to a universal presence as I could get while I worked on my words.
Now that I’m in Paradise my truest feeling of belonging to something greater than myself comes while I work on the things that are part and parcel of country life. When I get so immersed in each moment of each task that all my shields are down and I forget just about everything other than the matter at hand.
For the past several days I’ve been concentrating on getting Cloud Creek in shape. My routine has been to awaken at sunrise, arch my way out of bed to stand and stretch beside it like a great tree, with my raised arms feeling like they’re holding up the sky and my feet forming roots to the center of the earth.
After I force myself to stop stretching I pull on my work clothes. A T-shirt. An old long-sleeved cowboy shirt. Thick canvas work jeans. I tuck the jeans into my beloved harness boots (the ones that look so much like the engineer boots my mother never would let me have as a kid), have a quick cup of coffee and put on my work gloves.
Then it’s outside to stretch once more. This time I stand on the area we call The Mound, where the Ghost Dog was first spotted, and I listen to everything around me—the house, the Annex, the sheds, pens, grass, trees, sky, and all the animals—say, “I love you!” so loudly my ears ring.
I say it back, luxuriating in the wind for a few minutes, and then I’m at work, tossing a bale of hay to the horses, feeding several cans of food to the dogs, and bread to the chickens, refilling the wild bird feeders—
And doing my chores. I morph into Brody the Horsepucky Raker, protecting Huck and Elaine from disease! Brody the Fence Repairer, splicing wire and straightening posts!
Brody the Chicken Coop Conqueror, using my trusty staple gun and chicken wire to keep out the wrens and even crows who’ve been coming in through a tear in the window and frightening the hens out of laying!
Brody the Wonder Putterer, sweeping the floor and rearranging everything in the storage shed, nailing the old dog houses back together, scrubbing the bed of the pickup truck!
I circle the house, tightening the outside plumbing and electrical connections, feeling a power just like electricity surge through my body so that I’m absolutely certain lightning bolts are crashing from my fists!
I aim the bolts down the backside of the mountain and take flight with my eagle wings, soaring above the clearing and over the trees and laughing. Oh, how I laugh. It’s a mighty roar, that laugh, scattering the buzzards and crows and summoning my brothers, the hawks!
I know what you’re thinking. Sometimes I’ll look over to the window and see Gwen thinking it too. Her expression says it all. “The boy’s gone crazy.” But invariably she joins in my joy.
By mid-afternoon, when it’s too hot to work, I’m exhausted anyway. In I come, a separate being again, aware of my hunger and the ache in my legs, back, and arms. That’s when I eat. Check my e-mail. Make phone calls. Write things like this.
And think. Now with my fingers on the keys, as I try to figure out what this wonderful week means, I find myself thinking about farmers—real farmers—everywhere. The farmers who’re up and at ‘em at dawn, doing what they need to do because they just plain need to do it. Because it’s what their lives are all about.
Why do my neighbors work so hard, and fight so hard, to keep their back-breaking family farms? Why do they do everything possible to not only hang onto their land but to expand it so they can toil even harder?
Can it be that they’re lucky enough to feel the way I’ve felt this week every day of their lives? Are they this happy? This blissed out?
I sure hope so.