Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day and Grandpop

Howdy Friends,  

This is the Thirteenth in my series of Grandpop stories based loosely on my Uncle Ed, a WWII Vet, and real life cowboy. I began writing about Grandpop, June 27, 2013, with what at the time I imagined what would be a standalone short story, "Perhaps I've Just Lived Too Long." You can read that story (and find links to go on) (HERE)   Folks said they enjoy visiting with Grandpop, so I wrote more. Frankly, I enjoy him too.

Memorial Day and Grandpop

My cousin’s younger sister and her children had swung by to spend the weekend. Memorial Day being the big kick-off to summer and all. I heard the girls giggling in the barn as soon as I pulled in. I knew they’d be romping, as kids are want to do in early afternoon warmth in a barn full of hay, horses, tack and love. Grandpop was like a magnet to young folks, where he was they would be.

Giving my eyes a chance to adjust to the inside light I saw Grandpop had his new mare standing ground tied while the girls worked happily brushing her. Grandpop supervised from a comfortable looking hay bale perch.

“Howdy Son!” He greeted. “You’ll need to fetch a horse if you’re joinin’ us. I figured on a short warm up, get the kinks out, ride this afternoon so we’re all set for tomorrow’s big deal.”

I can’t recall how many Memorial Day parades Grandpop had ridden in, as far as I knew he’d only missed a few over the years, ever since he and Mom set stakes here right after WWII. I can remember he’d been the driving force in keeping the parade alive a few times when interest faded from time to time. “Can’t allow certain things to disappear from life.” He’d told town council more than once.

Grandpop never was one to bother much with town business, but everyone knew him and most folks valued his opinion. There was that one year; I think I was senior in high school when the parade was pretty much Grandpop, a few veteran friends, mom, my sister and me, one fire truck and half the school band. He told me once if it’s only him and a horse, as long as he’s on this side of the grass he’d do his best to have a Memorial Day parade in town. “For the youngin’s. Need to make sure they keep rememberin’ Memorial Day is more than hot dogs and a long weekend.”

We started out four abreast, just as we’d ride in the morning in town. The girls looked great, smiles as wide as the meadow. The horses marched magnificently, as if they understood the importance of the day. Grandpop always did, and still can sit a horse as finely as ever anyone who has ever ridden. The years have taken a toll; his shoulders not quite a square, but the aura of the man gleamed when he sat a horse, or talked about the respect for our country, and honor of those who’d paid the ultimate price to keep her free, and safe. Of course he shined when he spoke of mom, us kids, grandkids, great grandkids, horses, love and God ... but when respect and honor for our country was the topic, he radiated.

We rode for an hour, Grandpop told the girls, although he’d told them before, Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day when it started, right after the Civil War, as widows decorated the graves of those fallen in that great conflict. “It’s grown now to honor all those who’ve died while serving.” He explained. “Veteran’s day in the fall honors all who’ve served.”

We rounded the turn heading back to the corrals and the girls excitement grew for the next day’s ride. They would each be carrying flags. Watching their happy faces and listening to their questions I knew these two would never allow the meaning of Memorial Day to disappear from their lives.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

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Monday, May 18, 2015

"Motivational Monday" ... Determination-Dig in and Win!

Howdy Friends, 

That little bird was determined to secure a long strand of Kessy’s tail hair for her nest. I had just settled into my Coffee Clutch chair next to Kessy, Saturday by my side and Lil’ Bit on my lap. Kessy worked on her hay, Saturday fought back sleep, Lil’ Bit purred, but watched intently the tiny brown bird.
This tiny Carolina Wren would win!
When I brush Kessy and comb her thick long black tail and mane, I gather the hairs and pile them on an oak tree fork for the birds to use as nesting material. I wedge them there so they’ll stay and birds of all kind use them. The phoebes in the barn line their nests with Kessy hair, red-eyed vireos do too, and every fall we find another one or two neat little nests with a blanket of black tail hair woven snuggly inside. We have a little collection of bird nests on the back porch all with Kessy’s hair as the finishing touch.

So determined was the little wren to collect her horse hair building material she managed to dislodge the ball from the tree crotch, and drop it to the ground. She descended immediately upon it, grasped the most perfect strand and began hopping backwards, but the entire wad of hair simply bounced along with her.

For a second it seemed she’d made progress, until Lil’ Bit could stand no more, and leaped from my lap to stalk the tiny industrious bird. Mrs. Wren let go her prize and flitted safely to a branch. Lil’ Bit gave the tempting hair pile a respectable investigation then wondered away to do whatever young cats do on early morning romps.

Mrs. Wren was back on the hair ball in an instant, falling from the tree would not stop her, and surely no curious feline with a limited attention span mattered much, so back to her task she must go. After all, somewhere in one of our buildings she had a nest to complete. Deeply restored in her endeavor she had managed to nearly jerk lose a most perfect strand—then our guinea fowl came cackling, strutting and bouncing her way. Forced by yet another interruption and hurdle to achieving her goal, Mrs. Wren flew to her safe haven branch, then from sight.

I wondered if she might give up, after all it seemed a colossal effort for a single strand of horse hair, no matter how magnificent. Then almost as quickly as the guineas wandered away the tough little bird swooped from the thick mat of green forest wall to the wad of horse hair. She wasted no time in finding the single hair she’d nearly freed from the ball, tugged, tugged and tugged and finally flew away with her prize trailing in the wind behind her like a kite’s tail.

I was about to pour my second cup of Folgers, most Coffee Clutch gatherings are at least 2 cuppers, when she reappeared fussing over that bundle of horse tail hair. I happen to know a perfect nest requires more than a few strands of hair. And I had no doubt Mrs. Wren would eventually have all she needed, she has the determination that will guarantee success.

We all have that same determination within in us. Some of us can, no matter the challenge dig deep and like Mrs. Wren, keep coming back until we too have grasped our prize or accomplished our goal. All of though have also said, “That’s enough, I’m done.” And sometimes that’s the correct choice.

But if we give up after a few set backs on something too important and our inner self tells us to keep trying, follow a new direction, give it another attempt, then it is best to follow that inner voice. Think of this tiny brown bird, all her set-backs, and her determination and find the drive inside to make hardship, bad breaks and obstacle, merely interruptions and learning curves. Dig in and win!

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

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