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
Today is the most glorious day of 2006. It’s been raining since about midnight. Rumbling thunder. Gusting winds. Lightning in the distance.
Three consecutive days of deluge have changed everything here on the Mountain. Gwen the Beautiful’s irises are in bloom. So are the dogwoods. Even the grass that burned out in last summer’s drought is starting to return. The very atmosphere seems green.
And the sound! The main house and the Annex both have metal roofs, and I can’t think of a single existing musical group that can match the rhythm I hear and feel as I write.
I can honestly say I feel more alive than I have in many long months. I’m not the only one either. Gwen’s got a spring in her step that’d been missing for awhile. The animals are filled with energy.
And the Annex has started talking.
Yes, I know how strange that sounds. But on a property the original owners fled from because they saw and heard so many ghosts, it would be stranger still if things seemed normal.
The Annex has been empty for a couple of weeks, with Burl Jr., the New Cloud Creek Caretaker, scheduled to move in this weekend. Over that time Gwen’s been outfitting and decorating to make the place perfect for its use as both an art studio and the home of our new hand. So yesterday I walked over there to make sure there were no leaks to spoil things.
Now I’ll flat-out admit I’ve been uncomfortable with this trailer since we first moved it up here. It’s been nothing but an inanimate hunk of metal, blocking my view of the forest. But yesterday, in the cold, pouring rain, the place felt warmer than it ever had before.
Especially when it said, “Good morning.”
I jumped about two feet into the air. “You’re alive?” I said.
“Born last night,” the Annex said. “Daughter of the rain. And Gwen’s love.”
“That’s what it takes?
“I guess. I don’t really know. I’m just a kid.”
As we talked I started to smell something. Freshly made popcorn. I looked around the kitchen. The stove and the oven were clean as a whistle. I sniffed at the windows, the heating duct, even the portable air-conditioner. The popcorn smell wasn’t coming from any of those places.
It was coming from everywhere.
“What’s going on?” I said to the trailer.
“Don’t you like it?” the trailer said. “How’s this?”
The popcorn smell vanished. In its place was the aroma of fresh-baked cherry pie.
“Better?” said the trailer.
“I dunno,” I said.
“I want you to love me,” said the Annex. “I’ll love you back. I promise.
“Is that what this is about? You’re looking for something that’ll make me love you?”
“You and Gwen and everybody!” the Annex said. “People love food, don’t they? I don’t know how I know that, but I do.”
The smell of cherry pie grew stronger. It was like a dozen cherry pies baking together. Way too sweet. Overpowering. I staggered back, fled from the trailer.
As I stood on the deck, gasping for air in the rain, the Annex spoke again. “Too much?” it said.
“Too much,” I agreed. “You’re just a kid. You don’t understand how things can be both better and worse at the same time. But you’ve created one of those things.”
“I’ll keep trying.”
And it has. This morning the cherry pie smell was gone. Replaced by angel food cake with just the slightest strawberry tang.
The truth is that I’d love the Annex even if it didn’t try so hard. In fact, even if it didn’t try at all. Just the way I’d love any newborn.
But I’m not telling that trailer. No sir. Because the plain fact is that if there’s one dessert I go crazy for even more than chocolate fudge brownies it’s strawberry shortcake. And strawberry shortcake is what’s filling the air just inside that door.
I’ve reached a point here in Paradise where I don’t question the Annex’s new life. I am, however, wondering about something else. I don’t know which is more bewildering and wonderful to me. The fact that the scent exists…or the fact that in such a short time this child of the rain and Gwen’s love has found the right one.
Told you it was a glorious day!