BACKYARD – It’s nothing short of nice out here. Cool, overcast and a bit of a breeze. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not near cold enough for me to be wearing my hoodie. I know that. I’m just pretending it’s winter.
Winter is my favorite season. It used to be fall, but fall has become such a disappointment. A couple of decades ago, the Plilers and Hayters would go camping Columbus Day weekend. It was a perfect time. Bring our jackets, have some coffee and cocoa around the campfire.
I remember one Friday evening we were camped out at Lake Somerville and saw the lights of the football stadium on the horizon. Freeman had grilled some steaks and we were sitting around pleased as four bovine lying beneath the shade of an old oak in the middle of a field of clover. I suppose cows would enjoy something like that. Hard to tell with cows.
It wasn’t long before the distant sound of a marching band erupted from the direction of the Friday night lights. “What do you think?” I don’t know who said it, but after it was said, we piled into the pickup and headed for the stadium.
The Somerville Yeguas (pronounced “Yeawah”) were playing another small school that had a nut as a mascot. It wasn’t a buckeye. In fact, it was no nut I’d ever heard of before or since. And, nuts I know.
The game was interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the half-time performance. Must’ve been about 18 students in the band, a couple of twirlers-in-learning, three cheerleaders and a pep squad of about five. I don’t know what the Yegua coach told his team at halftime, but four of his 18 players didn’t hear it, because they were marching in the band. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen on a camping trip… and I once saw Freeman come close to hurling a blazing Coleman lantern into the Guadalupe.
See what happens to me during a weather change? I start out talking about my favorite season and get off track talking about a camping trip with an erupting Coleman. Obviously, I don’t need an excuse to do stuff like that, but this time I’ve got one. It’s the weather.
Speaking of hummingbirds, ours have yet to head south. Who can blame them? They’re probably tired of being lured away by the first cool front. You can fool a hummingbird just so many times.
I want you to look at all the flowers blooming in Kay’s garden. Absolutely beautiful. The bees have been loving that pink-flowered vine. The one draped around the small pine tree. You can even see a couple of bumblebees buzzing around it from here. Those are called Variable Cuckoo Bumblebees. “Variable” is a sophisticated term meaning flighty. They don’t know where they’re headed one second to the next. Just like a Chihuahua on uppers.
You didn’t ask, but when we were kids, Dennis was sitting in willow tree and got stung right between the eyes by a bumblebee that was somewhat larger than the Nutsy Cuckoo one over yonder. Dennis’ face swelled to the point where he looked like Chairman Mao. Mom would’ve taken him to the hospital, but she figured that since he survived the scorpion sting the previous year, he’d probably live through the encounter with the bumblebee. That, and the fact that we didn’t have insurance kept the doctor away.
Along with the bumblebees there have been a slew of honey bees all over the pink-flowered vine plant. Kay could tell you the name of the vine, but she went to lunch with her friend Linda. They’ve been eating for three hours now. More than likely they went shopping after the meal. Did I mention that they’re both women?
Yeah, Kay probably went looking for a new pillow. She’s been having trouble finding the perfect one. In the top of her closet are three reasonably new pillows that she considered perfect until her head hit ‘em. No store should be allowed to sell pillows unless they’ve got a bed nearby where you can test them out on your head instead of your hands.
Kay thought it improper to return her slightly used pillows. I don’t like to take anything back, so I was no help. I did try Kay’s rejects though, but none of ‘em scored higher than a six on my 12-point pillow checklist. You don’t want to skimp on a piece of spongy fluff that’s going to prop up your head for a third of your lifetime. When I find the pillow I like, I keep it for years. The best pillow I ever had cost me well over $100. I ended up leaving it in a motel in Atoka, Oklahoma. I’d tell you the story, but it makes me cry
Whoa! I just heard the garage door go up, signaling that Kay is home. I’ll go get her, so she can identify the pink-flowered vine for us. I’ll be back in a minute. Don’t anybody mess with my coffee. – Hmmm. Interesting. Turns out Kay is trying out her new pillow and doesn’t care to join us. Probably too cold for her. .
She did give me the name of the flowery-creeper. It’s a “Coral Vine.” (It's the flowery vine at the left on the picture above.) I’ve got nothing to add to that, so let’s just leave it there. Let’s try to meet back here at the first genuine cold front. I’ll furnish the coffee. Speaking of which, my coffee mug feels lighter than it did when I left. Anybody have anything you want to tell me? Anybody?
You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org. “The Summer of 1976” is still available on e-book at Amazon Books.