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
It snowed here in Paradise a few weeks ago. The first major snow of the season, with all the trimmings.
Gwen the Beautiful and I were in the neighboring city of Mountain Home when it began. We were looking for a new couch to replace the one Emmy the Bold, Decker the Giant Hearted, and Belle the Wary have turned into a 7-foot dog bed.
Two hours after the first flakes drifted down we still hadn’t found what we wanted so we decided to let it rest for now and go on home.
Three hours after the snow began its descent we finally made it to the highway, half a mile from the furniture store.
What slowed us down? Accidents. Accidents everywhere. Little cars skidding into ditches. Big trucks fishtailing across center lines. Injured vehicles squatting perpendicular to the road.
What a mess.
And the snow continued its leisurely way down, oblivious to the trouble it was causing.
Peacefully creating a fine, white-layered chaos in city once voted, “Most like the Midwest but not in the Midwest” by a group of former Chicagoans, who certainly should know.
Four plus hours after the snow started Gwen and I drove up to our clearing, spinning and sliding all the way. When we reached the top I was dripping with sweat from the concentration our usually short and easy journey had taken.
But I was smiling as well.
A foot of snow covered the ground, and all the roofs and eaves on the property wore snowy crowns. The hay shed, an eyesore if ever there was one, built out of discarded plywood and scavenged framing, gleamed with a luminous white beauty, dazzling me as it reflected (somehow!) a sun I couldn’t see.
Gwen went inside and let out the dogs. Emmy came charging at me, veering away at the last second to grab a soccer ball in her jaws. She feinted toward me again, and I reached out for the ball.
Emmy whirled and plowed in the opposite direction. As always, regardless of the weather, I gave chase. Decker and Belle barked but stayed clear. They knew this was Emmy’s show.
Emmy and I played for about an hour. I would dive for the ball and fall face first onto the snow. Emmy would yelp her laughter, and by doing that drop the ball, which I immediately would sweep away from her with flailing arms.
Then I’d leap to my feet and try to kick the ball farther before she would grab it.
Sometimes I succeeded. Mostly, though, I went flopping backward, grateful for the softness that cushioned each meeting of my rear end and the ground. At one point, I kicked the ball under the truck, and it stopped rolling, wedged against the differential.
Emmy barked. “You kicked it, you get it!” she said. “Those are the rules.”
“Since when?” I said.
“Since the first puppy and the first person ever played this game long ago!”
I crawled under the truck. Pulled out the ball. As I lay with my face against the ground I heard the snow laugh.
“Taste me,” it said. “C’mon. See what you’ve been missing.”
I buried my face in the snow. Licked it.
“No flavor,” I said, surprised. “None.”
“Ah, but what a texture!” the snow said.
And it was right.
The snow was both coarse and smooth, icy and comfortable…and comforting. I took another mouthful, gathered my strength, pulled myself out from under the truck. With a last burst of energy, I stood and drop kicked the soccer ball.
It hit the side of the storage shed and bounced right to Emmy, who snapped it up and pranced to the front porch, where she put it down by the door.
“I win!” I said.
She gave me a look. “What?”
“You went to the porch. That means you quit first. So I win.”
Emmy licked me. “We both won,” she said. “We always do.”
That night, DW, Burl Jr.’s boss at Paradise Music called me.
“This weather is driving me crazy,” he said. “My son totaled my truck, and I wiped out my wife’s car just a few minutes ago trying to drive off my own property. I hate snow!”
I thought about the fun I’d had that afternoon up here at the top of The Mountain.
“Careful there,” I said. “You’re talking about one of my best friends.”