Category: Columns

Home Country

September means pencils and books for the youngsters, but it also means state fair season. That’s when the world’s largest zucchini squash is at its prime, of course. The farm animals are all shed off and shiny and cute, their horns polished to diamond-like perfection by hard-working and hopeful kids. The state fairgrounds is an annual pilgrimage of sorts, another temporary home. We need to touch base with turkey legs, corn dogs and deep fried everything. We who sport gray in our hair, or no hair at all, can look with relief at that giant slingshot that shoots high school kids into a state fair orbit. It’s a relief because no one expects us to do that. And when we were young enough to actually do that, thankfully the diabolical state fair scientists hadn’t invented the darn thing yet. Cruising around, you get to see everyone at their best. Best fair-type clothing. Best behavior. Best smiles. If you scowl at any point during a visit to the state fair, you either aren’t trying very hard or someone ran off with your date. And we make those little secret promises to ourselves, too. You see, we’d love to win a ribbon for making a quilt, or raising an animal, or taking a fabulous photograph or coming up with the best painting in the whole state. But not all of us...

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Home Country

September. Our month of change. Our month of happy change. Once more we can stand the thought of wearing a sweater as the summer sun burns itself down. Once again we can think about a new year at school, a new teacher. Once again, the house is ours … and quiet during the day. September. In the forest, the animals are polishing antlers, sleeking muscles for the mating ruts to come, marking their territories. The deciduous trees are showing those awesome changes of color as the mountains become a splendid quilt of temporary beauty. September. A resting time for the older folks. They can sit on the patio now even in the afternoons. It’s a time for barbecued ribs and football, and picking fruit. On the farms, the canning pots are boiling with treasures for the coming winter. September. Time for the Fall gather. Time to see what’s out in those far pastures. Time to brand and work any late calves. Time to sort those who will stay and those who will go to the sale. Time to make money for the ranch. September. Time to sit and sip something hot and think about things past and yearn for certain future things and to plan … plan how we can finish this year in a better fashion than last year. September! ——– Brought to you by the dogs and...

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Home Country

  When old Jasper Blankenship came to town from the diggings recently, we asked him over for a few days. He saw us working the home computer and asked about it, but he really seemed to be immune to its wonders. But then my wife showed him how he could call up a certain program, tell it where he wanted to go, and have it zoom in from outer space to some tiny corner of the world. Well look out now, boys and girls; we have created a monster! Ol’ Jasper went from being shocked to being a semi-almost-darn-near technogeezer in about half an hour. For the next three days, we had to wait until the old boy went to sleep before we could check our email. He was on that machine constantly. But his new ability to eavesdrop on any place on earth at least led to some wonderful stories. “Come here and look at this,” he’d say. We did. “You see that tree right there? I killed a huge buck under that tree.” “See this? No … this little cabin over here on the left. That’s where old Leroy What’s-his-name lived back when I was a kid. He’s the one showed me how to pan for gold. Right there in the creek. No … down a little ways farther, not that close to the cabin. Let me...

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Home Country

  It happened in the checkout lane down at the Soup ‘R’ Market last week. We discussed it thoroughly, of course, and no one knows yet what to make of it. As sometimes happens, when we are glancing at the tabloids to see who fathered Bigfoot’s new baby, we get into discussions of trivia. Annette was sliding broccoli and corn flakes over the glass-window dinger machine, and we were just chatting about … I think it was bears this time. You know… “I read,” said Annette, “that a bear can run 45 miles an hour, faster than a race horse.” To which I added, “Did you know a polar bear’s skin is black, and a black bear’s skin is white?” “Really?” Annette said, weighing the plastic bag of apples. “And did you know,” she said, “that horses can’t vomit?” Horses just hadn’t heard me sing yet, that’s all. So it was then that the next guy in line, a young fellow dressed in camouflage, smiled and joined in. “You know the song, ‘The Duke of Earl’?” he asked. Well, of course we did. We used to slide around the dance floor to that when Elvis was still a pup. Wasn’t as good for snuggling as a Johnny Mathis tune, but what is? Half the marriages in this town began while dancing to “The Twelfth of Never.” “Well, here’s something...

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Home Country

You have to hand it to Windy. When Alphonse “Windy” Wilson chooses to speak, it is a bombastic sampling of creativity. Windy has yet to find a word he can’t make better through his own unique methods. Well, what got him fired up the other day was a meeting of the ladies of the garden club down at the nursery. Windy’s been helping Dewey with his manure business on the one day a week he spends helping others. Today wasn’t a helper day, but he couldn’t pass up the audience. They hadn’t gotten through old business when Windy stood, smiled, and spoke. “Dear ladies,” he said, “what an opera-tune moment this is, finding you all coagulated here in an effort to beatify the yards of our fair town. And what, you may ask, brings me to this conflagration? It’s the latest thing in gardening. Our chairman of the board refers to it as ‘cow pasture tea’ and it nutritionalizes plants right down to bedrock. As Dewey says, the only way to improve on cow manure is to liquidize it. Well, he hasn’t said it yet, but he will. “Now what exactly is cow pasture tea you’re undoubtedly asking yourselves at this moment. It’s a varietal combination of composted cow manure, water, and some acid we put in there to matriculate it properly into the life-giving succulence we require. Then...

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