In Memory of my Dad #14

Gremlins sit at my elbow, grinning inanely at me as I try to work. Try to be interesting and hold the reader by the hand, leading him or her through a myriad of words.

Sometimes I think writing a column is the hardest form of work there is. Certainly, it’s harder than laying pipe. It’s harder than working on a drilling rig. It’s even almost as hard as the stoop labor that the nurserymen do.

Believe me I know, having done the aforementioned things to earn my daily bread. Suddenly and without warning these small imps can evolve into full grown demons that make me want to do nothing except stare out the window at the trash bins.

Is that a fly I hear?

It’s early in the year for flies and I spent the whole of one day during the warmest days of late October ridding McClure Avenue of its sole remaining fly.

Yet that is the unmistakable drone of a fly. I try to ignore the droning, but this one has the sound of a Huey gunship. Loud and annoying.

I rise and stalk the fly. As usual it vanishes and cowers in silence. Just as I’m getting my thoughts back in some semblance of order, here comes the droning again. Still loud and annoying, and the gremlins are still lurking, keeping me from my work, so it went this fine, almost spring day in March, 1996.

I figured, what the heck? All God’s creatures need a break from each other “mas o meno”, so I’ll just take a little break from the invisible fly and go to the post office.

I notice two small grayish birds just outside my window, the bigger and more gaudy of the two, I surmise to be the male. The female has a small bit of feathery fluff in her beak. Some sort of soft flooring for the nest they are going to construct. I suppose that is what will happen, because the male of the species has a whole beak full of grass, twigs, and a brightly colored ribbon. I talk to the birds, you know, so I’ll just ask them what type of bird they are on the way to the post office.

The female seems to have the bit of feather stuck in the side of her beak. Hung in her eyeteeth, as it were. All she would have to do is put one of her tiny bird feet on the feather, rear her head back and she would be free of the bit of clinging fluff. The male, impatient to begin construction on the nest mutters under his breath, trying to hurry the female along.

False spring is the sort of weather we have been having. False spring is when it is unseasonably warm and then turns off cold once more. I think I heard that in an old John Wayne movie, The Shootist, or something like that. Do these birds then know something that the weathermen have not hit upon? It looks as if they do, because now they have elected to build their nest in a neighbor’s abandoned boat.

It is getting close to noon now, and the gremlins have field day in my head. I try to think of an idea that will fly (pun intended). I walk around the town trying to come up with an idea. Fathers, sons, mortgages, responsibilities, anything. But now the fly has returned droning louder than ever.

I sneak another quick peek at the birds. The female is taking her own sweet time about selecting a spot in the boat where they will build the nest, while her mate scolds and hops all around. I’m amazed at how the human aspect enters into this little drama, but right now I have trouble of my own and cannot stop to commiserate with the birds.

Besides there is no difference in their predicament. The female still has the bit of feathery fluff hanging from the corner of her beak, while the papa wren still carries the load of grass, twigs, and bright ribbon. The little imps that were once gremlins by now have grown into full-fledged demons, and the day is fading into eternity as I sit here and try to tap something out on the old Smith-Corona.

It has now been about five hours since I first started to observe the male and his ditzy mate with the feather hung in her beak. I see the tail feathers emerge from under the power trim section of the boat, and I’m glad that the male has finally began construction on the nest without his companion who can’t even get rid of a tiny fluff of feather.

But wait, that’s the female emerging from the recesses of the boat, her beak as clean as a whistle.

The male still hops around importantly with, you guessed it, a beak full of grass, twigs, and a bright bit of ribbon.

~Bob Briggs

Wicked wind

The weather today is no joke.
I went with J-dub to go feed a little. We came upon a herd of yearlings huddled around a water tank attempting to drink from the frozen tank.

J-dub grabbed an ax and began chopping ice. I got out to snap a couple of pics and before I knew it, my legs about fell off due to frostbite.

The wind whistled and roared across the great plains and cut us to the bone. Then it decided to get smart and whipped J-dubs hat right off his head and landed it on the other side of the fence.

Being the helpful hand that I am, I attempted to open the gate, but to no avail. So as my hard working, hatless husband swung his ax and shards and chunks of ice flew and splattered, I, with much trepidation walked across the frozen drinking tub into the other pasture to retrieve his hat.

Just as I was upon it, that wench of a wind decided to have some fun with me, and snatched the hat and ran farther away.

I’m sure it was quite a sight. A black cowboy hat tumbling across the pasture with a dumb ninny chasing it.

It would’ve been funny if it hadn’t been so dangerous. Even bundled up and running as fast as I could in snow boots, it didn’t take me long to realize how fearful and dangerous a winter storm with a 14 degrees below zero wind chill can be.

But now we’re home, safe and sound, with hat on head, or at least on a hook, fixin to chow down on some beans and cornbread, and counting our blessings.

Stay blessed and warm.