A Letter from the Ozarks? I thought he died.

August hit hard at the end of May and bypassed June completely so by July when it was suppose to be just starting to get hot, the grassy pastures were already brown and California crispy. The worst drought here in a long while, breaking record after record after record like that church group did to all those Beatle albums after John Lennon said something that ticked them off.

Fewer and fewer people are willing to say what’s normal and what’s not concerning seasonal weather. I think we’re all getting tired of hearing ourselves talk about what was. Besides, whose got the energy to talk when it’s this hot?  I’ve been told that the reason so many folks here speak in a slow drawl is because of the heat. If that’s so and we keep breaking records, it won’t be long before nobody will be able to understand anybody.

Whenever I hear a scientific alarmist on TV pitching “global warming/climate change” as something we need to throw money at, I see a desperate man begging for funding so he won’t lose his job. I can’t imagine the prehistoric man throwing spears at a glacier that formed in the mountain pass blocking his best passage to the other side. I’m pretty sure they just lived with it and found a different and perhaps better route. It seems that every other generation has stories about weather we don’t have today, more rain, more snow, longer winters, and dryer summers, whatever. Like the old guy who must have lived in an M.C. Escher drawing because he walked to school up hill in both directions trudging through three feet of snow!

When I was in high school in the early 70’s scientists had the data in front of them that suggested we were headed toward global cooling. No doubt the weather patterns are changing, yet they never stopped changing even from eons before the first people lived under the bluffs here. Not to worry, the weather is not going to take us out; there are so many other assorted flavors that can kill us. In fact, in as little as one hundred and twenty years from now, no one living today will even be here. So maybe it’s better not to get so taken up in “trendy” issues and instead look at the big picture; the mountain pass that glacier had blocked for so long is now finally clear!

So in the tradition of good story telling I plan on telling my great grandkids that back in my day it was so hot (How hot was it?) that it was common for people to spontaneously combust into flames while they were hoeing weeds in their garden. Children would go off to school never to return again. Later they would find little piles of ashes at the bus stop. I’m sure I can do better but that’s just my first draft.

Last week I went out to the coop to shut the chicken’s in for the night and found a Black Rat Snake in one of the nesting boxes with an egg half way in its mouth. I turned around and went back into the house for a bucket with a lid and by the time I returned, the egg was a couple inches down its neck past its head. I grabbed it by the head and felt that the egg was not yet crushed so I reached below the egg and started squeezing it back up towards its head. The reptile was a little stubborn and wouldn’t open its mouth but with continued pressure I convinced it to give me back my egg. It was covered with mucus slim but I got it back! I don’t like killing black snakes if I can help it  because they kill poisoness Copperhead Snakes and keep the mice population down. So I put him in the bucket and the next day took him a mile down the road to let him go. That snake sat in the bucket all night long so when I finally opened the lid it sprang out like a fake snake from a gag can and nearly hit me in the face. I was so surprised that I dropped the bucket and just about fell backwards. That snake took off in the weeds and pretty much had enough of me but ended up getting the last laugh. Hopefully from now on it will make an honest living eating mice and going midevil on Copperheads.

A couple nights ago around midnight racoons started flash mobbing my pear tree so I jumped out of bed, grabbed my flashlight, shotgun ( w/extra shells) and went after them. It was carnage!! The body count stacked up as I put the whole family out of business. Wildman wearing only flip-flops and a shotgun, VERY primal!!! At the end I felt like raising my gun in the air and letting out a war cry…. I didn’t though. I went back to bed scratching my bug bites. The next morning the buzzards were on it early doing the hazmat clean up. Buzzards are good birds and are very respectful of the living and extremly helpful in taking care of the dead. Nothing goes to waste, it’s the circle of life.

When you live in the city where things are in a sterile and protected environment, you can afford to develop romantic ideas about being one with nature. There you can frolic on established city hiking trails in nearby parks with binoculars and bird book in hand getting in touch with your inner Indian. There is no need to carry a sidearm because the dangerous animals have long ago been slaughtered and hauled away. But when you live in real nature the rules change. Here when you have farm animals, gardens and fruit trees you must add a new word to your vocabulary that sometimes overrides those poetic notions about flora and fauna. The word is vigilance. Without it, raccoons, bobcats, foxes, possums, snakes and even mountain lions, bears and more, you name it, will take and devour what you’ve worked hard to establish. You do what you can with fencing, live traps and dogs but sometimes you need to administer a bullet suppository to stop the aggressors. Every night there is a constant possibility and one must be vigilant, because that’s when the zombies come out!

We finally did get rain this week and with it the bug population exploded overnight. The bugs here are something I don’t think anybody moving from the western states ever gets use to. If it’s not the ticks and chiggers when walking around in the day it’s the bugs at night that really get the party going. Like I said, the zombies come out! At night while in bed with my reading lamp on, little bugs of every known variety cover the window looking for a way in while the bigger ones get a running start and bash into the windows and walls with such force it sounds like large hail assaulting the house. It only stops when I finally turn out the light. And God help you when you open a glass door at night with a well-lit interior. They come rushing in like it was black Friday at Walmart!

Mercy…. We came here to get away from it ALL but found that it’s ALL here.

If you get bored living out here then it’s your own fault.

Published in: on July 13, 2012 at 10:43 am  Comments (15)  

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You have NO idea how thrilled I was to receive another letter from the Ozarks. I thought they had ended forever, that the newness of your new life had worn off. I literally yelped out loud for joy!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!! Thank you so much! I was talking about the two of you two days ago. m I hope all is well with the family and think of you often and fondly. Kathiq

    • My dear friend Kathiq, Wow what a reception, Thank you! We are doing well and now have two of our daughter’s here, two of our grandkids and our favorite son-inlaw, all living about 35 minutes away!!
      Hope you’re doing well yourself. We DO NOT miss Cali one bit and are so glad we made this move. We do however miss our friends. I always enjoyed the out of the box conversations you and I had when you cut my hair. You’re one of a kind! I miss you!

      • I miss you, also. I am hoping to ride my bike to Virginia in 2014 with a friend(s). Would love to come by and see you and your place. I am so happy that you have half of your children with you. Home is where the family is. I also, always enjoyed our conversations. My home still has your beautiful work of art on the walls, so I think of you often. Remember when your helper (Nicole?) was afraid to go into that one bedroom of mine?!!! hehehehe! I’ve told that story many times over. I am so happy the two of you have followed your dreams.

      • You be sure and stop on by then! Yes, I remember Nichol and her fear of ghosts
        . Funny, she’s now living in an old house in Portland OR that has a bald man ghost in the attic.

      • tooooo funny about Nicole!

  2. Love your Letters From the Ozarks Gregg. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to write another. Enjoyed it very much. Especially your story about the bug bites, LOL. Happy you’re BAAAAACK!

    • Thank you Margie, whenever I need an atta-boy you’re always there and love me no matter what. I can do no wrong. If I die before you I would like you to speak at my funeral. xxoo!

  3. I…like these other fine folks…squealed with delight upon seeing your Letters From the Ozarks. Welcome back and don’t go silent again…I missed you!


    • Wow Jude, I got a “yelp” from Kathiq and a “squeal” from you!!! You guys treat me like a rock star, thank you! I’ll try and do better getting them out. I forgot how good it feels to get one of these done and to communicate with the outside world. I’ve renewed my commitment and am going to be more mindful of what’s going on around me and take more notes. Wish me well……

  4. “Zombieland”??? Is that better than “Watusi Ville”?!?!?
    You always were given to hyperbole. Though I mean that in a “good” way.

    Welcome back!!


    • HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I’m glad you’ve finally coughed up that hairball from your craw. Zombieland is still way better than Watusiville, you can shoot zombies. I wish you would just pack your bags, shake the dust off your feet and move your butt out here brother, you and Terri would have a blast!!!

  5. What a treat it is to read your blog! I hope you will write again soon.

    • Thanks Cuz! I planned on another letter by now but August has been and will be full of visitors until the end. I’ve been plenty busy but no moments of zen to sit and write them down.

  6. You are a wonderful writer, and I love your attitude towards living closer to the land.

    • Hi Dani, You’re a new name to my blog that I’ve not heard of before…. welcome! I’m glad you enjoy it and thank you taking the time to send me your kind words Take care! Gregg

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