Continued from Part 3.
After breakfast we took a walk through surrounding hills- if you have a dog letting them run loose in the wild is a special treat (as long as there’s nothing out there that would make them lunch). Several times I lost sight of him, only to see the white tip of his tail protruding above some grass. He was running and baying, generally having a great time. I was too, until Dad unintentionally scarred me for life.
Vagabond found a leg bone of one of the cattle that had died of natural causes, and it was pretty funny to see him try to drag it and keep up with us. He didn’t want to let it go, and he didn’t want to lose us. So he was trying his best, but was lagging behind. “Hold up Dad, dog needs his bone.”
To this day I wonder what the hell he thought I said. He was an engineer on the railroad and his hearing was bad, but the next two sentences out of his mouth paralyzed me. “Yeah, your mother was a cheerleader back in high school, I used to see her shaking her ass by the field when I was playing football. Sex with your mother is great, why did you ask?” he said. We both stood there stunned, I, open mouthed, unable to speak or breathe, and him slowly realizing the irreparable damage he had done to his only son. “I didn’t…uh…Ddddog…bone”, I stuttered, “go back camp now…”
We walked back in silence- him probably in blissful memories- me wondering if they make bleach for your ears…shudder. Lesson Five, Not all knowledge is power, some is pain. Gut wrenchingly awful pain. As I tried to wash the image of my pirate father giving my mother a right Jolly Rogering from my minds eye (arrrgh!). Life needs a rewind button. Or at least an unhear and unsee button. The rest of the day was spent frog hunting with Bullwhacker- I was sure I’d land one for the record books, but (fortunately for me) the 10ft long ones must have been hibernating. The lake was surrounded by pussy willows- that name still makes me giggle twenty five years later, and reminds me of another old joke from the fireside.
An old man is sitting on his porch when a little boy walks by holding a roll of chicken wire. He asked the boy why he needed chicken wire. The boy replied, “I’m going to catch some chickens”. The man told the boy that using chicken wire isn’t the way to catch chickens, but the boy went anyway. He returned later in the evening carrying several chickens. The man was shocked. The next day the little boy walked past the man again, this time carrying rolls and rolls of duck tape. The man asked what he was doing and the boy replied, “Today I’m catching ducks”. The man told him that’s not how to catch ducks, but the boy proceeded anyway. He returned later that night with an armload full of ducks. The man was amazed. The next day the little boy walked by the man carrying a pile of pussy willows and the man said, “Hold up, let me get my coat, I’m coming with you!”
As I was kneeling while looking for my prey in the pussy willows (snicker), I did find something I wasn’t looking for. A snake. A fat six-footer slithered over my ankle. I thought it was a stick, so without looking I reached back and picked up what turned out to be his tail. My faithful dog immediately jumped into action- yipping like a Chihuahua on espresso and making a beeline for camp like his tail was on fire.
Eyes to Brain- “Stick is floppy, must be wet. No, wait…movement detected. ”
Brain to Eyes- “Identify”
Eyes to Brain- “Looks like a snake. Yep, that’s snake. Why are we holding a snake? ”
Brain to Hand- “What the hell were you thinking?”
Hand to Brain- “I don’t think there genius, that’s your job. Now what?”
Brain to Hand-“Okay, okay, let me think. I know, drown him! Whip him over our head and out into the lake.”
Hand to Brain- “Are you sure?”
Brain to Hand-“Who is the thinker here?? Execute! Go! Go! Go!”
Hand to Brain- “Okay”
Zippy the Wonder Snake made three or so revolutions over my head like a lasso, and then sailed off into the middle of the lake. His last thoughts were probably “What the hell was that about?” And then Zippy did something I didn’t expect. Instead of sinking, he started swimming BACK toward me.
Eyes to Brain- “Snake is returning on mission of revenge”
Brain to Feet- “Haul ass. I repeat, haul ass, this is not a drill. This demon serpent can probably fly.”
Feet to Brain- “We’re outta here!”
Lesson Six, Snakes are not made to fly- but they can swim. I made it back to camp in record time. Dad and I packed up the camp, and I caught some Z’s on the way home. I left that campsite with mostly pleasant memories- and some lessons for a lifetime.
- Don’t feed a dog you’re on a long trip with hardboiled eggs.
- Left pedal clutch, enough gas will get you out of any jam, and leave dog at home during driving lessons.
- No matter how bad you are, there’s always someone meaner and uglier just over the hill.
- Bullshit can be entertaining.
- Not all knowledge is power, some is pain. Gut wrenchingly awful pain.
- Snakes are not made to fly- but they can swim.
My thirteen year old brain translated that to…
Hardboiled eggs can lead to gas which can get you out of a difficult situations. There’s always someone meaner and uglier, but they can provide you with hours of quality entertainment. The quest for knowledge can cause pain, but sometimes you just have to let fly and go!