In an attempt to ready my yard for a quick pass of the lawnmower, I strolled through the grass picking up deer bones, sticks, and flower pots the dogs had dragged from the greenhouse. The aroma struck me first, then the crunch. I stumbled upon the rotting carcass of an armadillo–Apun’s favorite new toy. Instead of moving the offensive lump of rotting flesh, I decided to mow around it.
As I mowed, I recalled a blog posting from my first spring in Arkansas. I’ve decided to share it here, besides it includes my dad and Reba, who are both no longer with us.
The morning started out fresh. A light rain washed the holler in a sea of mist. The raindrops glistened and the leaves sparkled like emeralds. The scent of lilacs was carried through the windows on a cool breeze. Birds sang. Butterflies fluttered. Pastoral bliss.
A perfect day for Ma’s birthday party.
Of course, the party was being held at my house and since I’ve been in finish-the-novel-mode followed by edit-the-damn-novel mode, my house was lacking in company’s-coming-cleanliness. I do the basics, on occasion. Sweeping, vacuuming, laundry. And, sure, the kitchen is usually clean. No real problem there. The only cooking that has been happening is the weekly baking for my critique group. Haven’t even been cooking for the dogs lately, which is the probable cause for the ruination of my pastoral bliss.
As Dusty Richards often says, “No one has ever been killed by a dust bunny.” So, the deep down cleaning has been lacking of late. If you ask, Mr. Taster-Editor, he’d say it never happens, but who’s asking him, right?
So, yesterday morning, I was waltzing through the house with a blue bird on my shoulder tidying things up for the gala. A box full of miscellaneous items needed to be returned to Ma—mostly dishes that she had so thoughtfully filled with delicious treats to sustain me during a writing frenzy. Gotta love Ma! Since I have no room in this house to store anything, I carried the box to the car to take to her later.
When I opened the door, a funky smell ripped through my nasal passages and my breakfast of Diet Coke and Ritz crackers threatened to reappear. Instantly, my nose found its way to my shoulder to block the offensive odor from my olfactory glands. I stepped outside and as my right foot made contact with the rock I call my front step, I felt and heard the crunch at the same time.
There are some crunches that are good. For example, crisp apples, Captain Crunch, peanut brittle, Crunch and Munch. I’ve been told that abdominal crunches are good too, but I refuse to believe.
The crunch on my front step didn’t fall into the good crunch category. As soon as I heard it, I cringed. Dare I look? Was it a present from my must-draw-blood-once-a-day kitty? Doubtful, since fresh kill rarely crunches. It’s more of a smoosh.
I looked down and a jawbone lay desecrated under my slipper. Of what? I was unsure. Until Paps announced he was going to mow the lawn before company arrived. See, I come by my don’t- clean-until-company’s-coming philosophy honestly.
Paps mowing meant I had to pick up items in the mid-calf length grass before he arrived with the tractor. Fireplace tongs, elbow length leather gloves, face mask and trash bag in hand, I ventured into the wilds of my yard.
Ma was going to help, but for some reason it took her an hour to roll up the garden hose. Smart woman!
Apun and Reba followed closely behind as I cleaned up their treasure trove of death. At least seven specimens of mortality were strewn among the Bermuda grass. Enough to fill half a 33 gallon trash bag! Bones, hides and armadillo shells everywhere! I discovered the source of the jawbone when I picked up a pile of fur and the other side jawbone fell out along with the slimy possum tail!
Why the hell did I leave Alaska? I didn’t have dogs in Alaska. No way I’d walk one when it was thirty below zero. Cats never went outside. We were all safe, snug and kill-zone free in Alaska.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t scream, cry or throw up. A big improvement. I’m toughening up to Ozark life.
Apun and Reba were extremely upset by the discovery of their treats. And for the record, I feed the dogs daily! I’d just slacked off on the nightly omelet routine. All canine-carcass-confiscation-concerns vanished when the family arrived and there were new people to pay attention to them.
Pond time made up for the missing, rotting-possum corpse!
Minnows were in abundant supply and everyone decided fishing would be great fun. How redneck is that? Anyway, the white bass are spawning and people were jerking fish out of the pond as fast as they could cast. Which meant, lots of flopping fish action!
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
At first Apun and Reba were working as a tag team, but with so people fishing they were missing out on some of the fish. Eventually, they worked out a system. Apun covered the north bank while Reba concentrated on the south.
Whew wee! They got them some fish!
It was a catch-and- release day since no one was in the mood for filleting. As a result, the dogs got to wrestle with the humans as they tried to get the fish off the hooks and they got to follow the fish as they swam back into the depths of the pond.
By seven last night, the dogs were crashed in the living room. Too tired to even eat, which was upsetting because I made them omelets again. Maybe they won’t feast on dead animals anymore?
Not very likely.