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
I’m the most curious human being I know.
I’m almost as curious as Huck the Spotless Appaloosa, whose interest in things he doesn’t understand is legendary among those who know him.
Who but Huck would spend all afternoon rooting through a wheelbarrow filled with fertilizer on the off chance that beneath all that manure was a rose? Or, better yet, some clover?
And who but Huck would follow Maya the Good and me from fence post to fence post around the corral for an entire day, trying to figure out what that crazy contraption we were lugging around did?
(It was a fence stretcher, and we were tightening the loose strands of “barbless barbed wire”—that’s what they call it—that keep unfriendly critters out of Huck’s domain.)
I write because I’m curious. Often, when I’m in the process of writing about something I don’t understand I begin—finally!—to see the light.
Sometimes I write about events in the hope that I’ll discover their as yet undemonstrated result. Other times I write hoping I’ll learn their previously hidden cause. Either way, I feel like a detective, exploring people, places, things, and occurrences that are, like the wheelbarrow and fence stretcher, mysteries to me.
Although not necessarily to someone else.
This morning, for example, I was absolutely certain the game was afoot.
As I went to the corral to feed Huck and his partner Rosy the Romantic, I saw a circle of whiteness on the ground just outside the fence.
The circle was about a foot in diameter, and, depending on where I stood, it looked like a collection of cotton balls, a thousand and one cocoons, a melting puddle of mothballs or dry ice, or some very strange snow.
I got down on my hands and knees to peer at this mysterious substance as closely as possible. At first glance it had looked fluffy, but now I could see that it wasn’t fluffy at all. Its structure was more crystalline.
In fact, the mystery substance reminded me like nothing so much as a blown-up version of a microscopic view of just about any crystal anyone might happen to put under a microscope for some reason.
From behind me came the sound of panting. I turned my head to see Decker the Giant-Hearted loping over.
“Whatcha doing?” he said.
“Investigating,” I told him. “Like Sherlock Holmes.”
I’d forgotten what I was talking to. “I’m looking at this stuff,” I said.
“Let me see.”
Of course, when a dog says he wants to see something it doesn’t mean he wants to look at it all. It means he wants to smell it. Decker stuck his nose into the white stuff, and where his nose touched it, the crystal immediately turned to water.
“Neat!” Decker said.
“What’s it smell like?” I said.
“Doesn’t smell like anything,” Decker said.
I sniffed without touching it. Decker was right. I poked my finger into the circle to see what would happen, and how it would feel. What I poked instantly seemed to melt, but with no sense of coldness.
“This is pretty strange, buddy. Don’t you think?”
Decker’s ears went up. In a human that would be a shrug. “Why are you shaking?” he said, and I realized I was.
“Why do you shake before you take off after a squirrel? Excitement! The thrill of the hunt. The chance to understand something new and—who knows?—maybe magical!”
Decker liked that. He barked joyfully, then looked past me, toward the driveway, and hurried to meet the UPS truck that came chugging up.
The truck stopped, and Malthe UPS driver got out. Feeding Decker a treat, he came over to where I was crouched. “Hey, Larry B. Something wrong?”
“Not exactly wrong. Just weird.
Mal hunkered down beside me, then smiled knowingly.
“Not weird,” he said. “Just rabbits.”
“Rabbit urine,” he said. “Strongest animal waste in the world. Sun’s killed the scent, but the temperature’s made it crystallize. My daddy used to raise rabbits. I remember him showing me this when I was a kid.”
We went back to his truck, and he handed me a package. Our regular shipment of way too many books from Amazon.Com.
“Have a nice day,” Mal said, and off he drove.
And there it was. Mystery solved. Nothing to be shaking excitedly about after all.
Unless, of course, someone else can tell me he was wrong…?