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
When Burl Jr. the New Groundskeeper and his fiancée Tera announced their plans for a life together they came on strong. Two kids in love who had it all worked out.
Their schedule called for Tera to finish school last May and for the two of them to go on the road together, Burl Jr. playing blues guitar wherever he could find a place that would let him play and Tera giving her support through both her love and her ability to take on part-time jobs to help them through the tough times.
Burl Jr.’s goal was to be “discovered” as the guitar blues genius he is, after which Tera could relax in a life of luxury made possible by his high-paying gigs and the sale of millions of CDs.
May, however, has come and gone, and Burl Jr. has remained employed at Paradise Music and ensconced in the trailer we call the Cloud Creek Annex, with Tera there with him most of the time.
I haven’t pressed them about what’s going on because, frankly, not only do I love hearing Burl’s music floating over to the main house from the deck of the Annex every evening, I also don’t want to lose his strong back and green thumb until I absolutely have to.
So it was with some trepidation that I watched Burl Jr. walk across the clearing yesterday and heard him knock on our front door. He had that look of manly determination that goes with being in your early 20s and knowing it’s now or never if you’re going to make your move.
“What’s up?” I said as I opened the door.
“What makes you think something’s up?” he said.
“Oh, could be that this is the first time in two years you’ve knocked instead of walking right in. You want to talk, am I right?”
Burl Jr. nodded. “Can we sit down on the porch?”
“It’s that serious, huh?”
“Can we sit down?”
We sat on the swing, and Decker the Giant Hearted immediately leapt up to fill the space between us…and overflow onto both our laps. Burl Jr. started to pet him.
“Tera’s pregnant,” he said tightly.
I wasn’t sure if congratulations or sympathies were in order. “What’re you going to do?” I said.
“We’re going to get married right away,” he said. “And she’s going to get a teaching job. The school needs a computer expert, so I’ll be going to work there too.”
“What about your music?”
“My child deserves more than a father who’s drifting around trying to hook onto a dream,” Burl Jr. said. “My child deserves a solid family. A secure and loving home. I’m going to see that he—or she—gets it.”
“You’re sure? You’re not worried about regretting this later?”
Burl Jr. hesitated. Then: “I’m sure.”
“Well, I’m not!”
That was Tera, coming to join us with a look every bit as determined as Burl’s Jr. Maybe a bit more.
“This boy thinks he’s so smart,” she said, that he can just mouth off and make everything right for both of us.
“But I’ve got a say here,” Tera went on, “and the last thing I want to be is married to some sad-eyed man who spends all his time staring into space and thinking about what might’ve been. A man who throws away his guitar because instead of it being his rocket to the moon it’s a symbol of what’s never going to be.”
Tera leaned forward so her face was right in Burl Jr.’s. “We’re packing up, honey boy, and going on the road.” She patted her stomach. “The three of us. We’ll be a loving family wherever we are. Because I could ever, ever live knowing you hate me because the baby and I made you give up your dream!”
Tera kissed Burl Jr. so hard that I thought her lip marks were going to be branded on his mouth forever. Decker yowled and leapt off the swing in fear.
Burl Jr. and I watched in wonder as Tera straightened, turned, and marched back to the Annex like a soldier.
Burl Jr. stared. “Whoa!”
“What’re you going to do?” I asked him again.
Before he could answer Gwen the Beautiful came to the door. “What’s going on?” she said.
“It’s that time,” Burl Jr. said. “The three of us are hittin’ the road.”
“Three?” said Gwen.
“My whole family,” Burl Jr. said with a grin. “Ain’t it great?”