Saturday, October 22, 2011

Picnic in the Park

We decided to walk to the Coffee House on Fairfax to get a drink and sandwich for a picnic at the Berkeley Springs State Park. The
Park is about the size of a small city block. There’s a rock lined indention in the ground called Washington’s bathtub. I can’t see our president taking a bath there but I dutifully had my picture taken as a souvenir of our trip through West Virginia.

While eating our lunch we observed a little man coming out of one of the apartments. He was complaining to his dog, a small dust ball of blond hair. I overheard his complaints and had to laugh to myself.

“Get out of here Tom! Why don’t you just get out of here!

And take that dog with you. Take him for a walk—a long walk. You need it! You both are getting a little pudgy. The girls are coming over and I need some quiet!”

“The girls are coming over! The girls are always coming over. The girls are coming for bridge. The girls are coming for tea. The girls are a gaggle of geese, as far as I can see!”

Grabbing the leash he called to the dog.

“ Come on Piggy, Let’s get out of here. We can wander over to the park and watch the kids at the playground.”

“Maybe I can go get a haircut. I don’t like these curly locks. I wonder how she’d like it if I got a crew cut. How about that Piggy?”

“Would you like a crew cut too? That would really show her wouldn’t it!”

He wandered over to the playground and watched the toddlers slipping down the slide into the mud. It looked like fun. “Not something we could do though.” he said. “We’re too old. He stuck his hands into his jeans pockets and watched enviously. A light drizzle made the day colder and definitely

“No Piggy! No Piggy! Get down! Mr. Pie’ger’ come back here right now!”

“No! No! Stop rolling in the mud! Clara gets angry when I get dirty! And you’ve torn my shirt.”

“Not that that’s much of a loss! I hate plaid shirts. Cripes sake my grandfather wore plaid shirts. Now-a days real men don’t wear plaid! “

The rain started falling harder. He was definitely wet now and so was Mr. Pie’ger.

“Maybe I’ll just tie you up here and go into the library. No one would ever know. I could spend time and read the magazines. You
wouldn’t care would you Piggy? Good Dog!”

We decided to spend the rainy afternoon in the museum. After a few hours I could see the girls leaving the apartment building across from the park so I figured it was finally safe for him .

“I guess we can go home now.” He muttered, as he walked out of the library and untied the dog.

“We can sneak in with our shoes off and without Clara noticing the shirt. I’ll even give you a bath. No
one will ever know.”

“For Cripes sake doesn’t she understand! I’m only five years old!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Welcome To My Neighborhood

I never really liked bears, but my Dad did.
He loved to take us to the zoo, and sure enough we always gravitated to
the bear exhibit first. His favorite was the sun bear, a tall lanky brown bear with a
yellow patch on his stomach. At 5 feet at least it looked tall to us when we were
younger and shorter.
It has large paws with naked soles, which helps it to climb. It has small, round ears and a stout snout. Unlike other bears, the sun bear's fur is short and sleek. Dark black or brown-black fur covers its body, except on the chest, where there is a pale orange-yellow
marking in the shape of a horseshoe. Similar colored fur can be found around the muzzle
and the eyes. These distinctive markings give the sun bear its name. He has an extremely
long narrow tongue for getting into bee hives and is sometimes called a honey bear.

They would stand on either side of the fence and stare at each other. Daring,
who would be the first to flinch? My dad always won.

He had a way of taking chances that made my mom mad. One day, driving through Yellowstone Park we saw a black bear on the side of the road. My dad pulled up, rolled down the window and threw jellybeans across the car
roof at the bear.

“Don’t Feed the Bears!” Don’t Feed the Bears!” My mom screamed. The bear was on her side and she was the one who would be attacked first. The four of us in the back seat begged him to quit too. We were too young to be afraid of the bears, but we wanted the jellybeans.

I guess it was natural to be carefully comfortable living around bears. We
lived in a house in the mountains on the edge of the forest. Wild life was abundant
and we learned to live in their neighborhood as they live in ours. It seems that every
year we had visits from the bears, especially during the droughts. The apple tree
was particularly vulnerable to their munching and it was outside my bedroom window.

Other bears loved to break into the neighbor’s hot tubs for a warm drink.

Janet, who lived up the street a few houses made two apple pies one fall and
left them on the windowsill to cool while she went to town. Her daughter Mary came home for a visit about the same time that the bear was ready for a snack. Hearing the noise of the bear entering the house by the window, Mary quietly got up, shut the door and left to call the forest service bear retrieval department from a safer distance.

Another year a neighbor came to tell me that there was a bear sighting. A high school boy was doing his homework at the table in his kitchen two houses down the road from us. Hearing a noise, he looked up and out into the back yard. There on the deck was a black bear trying to get into the house through the screen door. Coolly keeping his head Paul closed and locked the glass door. The forest service arrived and the bear headed quickly to one of the taller ponderosa pine trees at the
back of the property. Taking my two-month old daughter with me we walked down to the house to watch. We sat on the deck as the forest service men shot a tranquilizing dart into the bear’s side. The bear turned, looked at the dart, and calmly picked it out of his rump, dumping it to the ground. Three darts later he was still feisty and determined to stay in his tree.

“Give him a lethal dose Joe”, the boss shouted.

One more shot and the bear tumbled to the forest floor. We had been told to head
into the house the moment he landed in case he hadn’t been knocked out yet. So we hustled inside, the adventure over. When he was trussed and netted we headed back
out of the house to make sure he was still alive and would be transported to another
mountain hundreds of miles away to continue his life pillaging a different

My daughter doesn’t remember this adventure, but has inherited her grandfather’s appreciation for honey and bears; at the zoo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Call to Serve

My brother called me a couple of weeks ago during Sunday school class. It embarrassed me that I had left my phone on and interrupted the class. I told him he shouldn’t call me during church, but being a member of the Bishopric in his ward he knows that sometimes you have to do things when they need to be done, not when it’s convenient. My ninety-year-old aunt, who lives in a neighboring town in Utah had fallen and broken her hip. She had been taking out the trash in the back yard when she slipped and fell. Crawling to the fence she called out for help. Fortunately someone walking down to the Stadium for a football game heard her and was able to call an ambulance.

How many times have we had the opportunity to answer a call for help? Are we listening for those chances?

One of my favorite hymns when I was a youth was “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”.( James Montgomery, 1771-1854) I think it was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s Favorite hymn too. I remember asking one of the tenors in the choir if he would sing it at my funeral. That’s how I wanted to live my life. I planned on making that my goal; to a live life like the hymn stated. However I outlived my tenor friend. His daughter, a nurse, was tending him when I called her to ask what to do when my mother died, and found out he had just died that morning too.

When I moved to Virginia, I asked her jokingly to adopt my father, since I was leaving him alone. She agreed and would go over to his house once a week to check on him and have lunch. They developed a warm friendship. There were many opportunities for her to use her nursing skills to help him. And as it turned out, instead of her dad singing at my funeral, she played her violin at my dad’s.

A poor, wayfaring man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name
Where to he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye that won my love,
I knew not why.

Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou disdst them unto me.”

In Matthew 25 we read
…, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weather Report

October skies are filled with moonlight
Wispy clouds like spider’s webs drift over the edges waiting for bats or old women on brooms to float across the surface.
October nights are clear and crisp -- the tingle of ice just on the edge of existence.
October days are cool, the sun shining, birds calling, small animals hiding food for the winter.
October mornings crunch!