Tuesday, April 28, 2009

15 Minute Travelogue

The sky is a bright blue. Early morning sun sparkles and reflects off ponds and lakes created by the Kickapoo River surging its banks. I have only fifteen minutes to reflect on the surroundings here in Kickapoo Center. Then, it's off to work I go.

*Grandpa lost his nose in the storm. Each of the forty foot Norway pines that mark the perimeter of the front yard has a face. Grandma is the exception. I don't know why. Grandpa's gourd nose fell off. His mouth is an old toilet plunger bottom giving him a puckered mouth look.

* Titus called from his neighbor's home yesterday. Wednesday morning they'll be making pies. Simple Simon puts in an order for an apple pie. I may need a pecan pie. I know I need eggs and noodles. Putzing around in the kitchen yesterday, I never make the trip to the Amish farm.

*I'm a student of culture. I have questions about the Amish way of life. Previously, I dealt intimately with Native Americans here in the mid-west and in Arizona. A recurring theme in their life was the destruction of traditional values because of contact with non-native people. I want to learn how the Amish deal with encroachment on their values and traditional ways by the "English". I also don't want to give them the impression that I am a smart Alec. I hold off my questions: What kind of swimsuits do the Amish wear? Do Amish go on vacation?

*The Pooch gets downgraded from being one smart cat to slightly above a dullard. I watch him as he walks along the north fence line between the red dogwood and the barbed wire fence. He walks behind the shed we call a barn and ambles up the berm between the highway and our road. Something isn't quite right. I walk outside with the paper in my hands that I'm taking notes for a project. He disappears for awhile. I walk closer to the barn and step off the drive to the gentle hill. He's investigating something under a blue spruce. Then, he turns, walks down the grassy culvert toward the highway. As he reaches the gravel apron for the highway, I intercede. NO... POOCH... COME HERE...NOW... He looks up in my direction and runs toward me. I tell him in a calm voice that was the dumbest thing I have ever seen him do. Something overrode his natural fear of large noisy machines. The highway is busy. The stretch between the neighbor's farm and the county highway a mile away is a long straight stretch with a full view of the highway as it curves toward Viola. It's a favorite place for motorcyclists, teenagers and a few idiots with a death-wish to gun their machines. The marker at the bridge for the site of a young girl who was killed by a driver who forced her off the road is a constant reminder.

That night, in the part of the movie Marly and Me where the vet is putting the world's worst dog to sleep, I walk away. I don't like to subject myself to unnecessary grief. I... I couldn't handle my friend and companion being killed and repeatedly run over on the highway. My wife-I don't know how to otherwise describe it gently-tells me when the Vet inserts the needle in the tube leading to a very ill Marly, " It's not true that they don't feel that." When her cat and companion of 19 years becomes terminally ill with kidney disease, she asks me if I want to accompany her. I beg off. I'm not much for funerals and death. Dawn deals with it daily at the retirement home. Then she adds, "Sueshe's (our previous cat) " eyes popped (open) when the Vet administered the injection. I'm appalled. I know you're reading this, Dawn. It's OK. I'm not mad or angry. We all have different ways of looking at life. I'm a romantic. Always have been. I can turn the worst event into a fairy tale, given the right circumstances.

This took longer than 15 minutes.

I want to add something sweet and nice before posting this. Here goes:

I read a short blurb in a gardening magazine about sour asparagus. The writer tells of harvesting the first young asparagus of the year, blanching it, adding butter and serving it for dinner that night. She and her husband find the taste sour and unappealing. Only later does she learn from a friend that the asparagus she cut that day were young peony shoots.

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