Saturday a ghastly thing happened at the Prairie house. While Sam was gone fishing I discovered a mouse clinging to the Big Tom sticky trap. I have vowed time and time again not to use those cruel traps, however successful they are.
The Wall Street Journal headlined "A Delicious Prescription: Chefs and doctors are teaming up to create health food you might actually crave."
Inheriting the "clipper" gene from our mother, my brother and I trade clipped newspaper articles, his from national newspapers on food, birds, nature and mine from the local sports pages on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The jean jacket label said Bangladesh. Prairie skirt made in the U.S.A. Old Navy jacket made in China, as was the Longleaf camo jacket, as was the Ralph Lauren skirt. Really? Ralph Lauren made in China? Ann Taylor -- Hong Kong; MSU baseball hat -- Taiwan R.O. C. Shoes were a mix of Brazil, Mexico and China.
The caller said, "I read in the paper that you wanted a rabbit."
The boys were all excited about their fishing weekend. Tim wanted to kick off his recent retirement, and Greg, looking forward to the birth of his second child, wanted a quiet weekend to fish; Sam agreed to host. Quick to seize opportunity, I called my college roommate, Toni, and suggested we meet for a girls' night.
Over and over again I watched Sam haul heavy bundles of yard cuttings and leaves over to the habitat pile. It touched my heart deep.
The first time we met I was mesmerized by the whiteness of his hair and the blueness of his eyes. The corners of his eyes drifted into tiny lines that caused his eyes to sparkle, though no more so than his smile.
It's strange how in five minutes you may experience an event that, at least on some level, changes your life. It happened not a mile from the house.
Dressed in all our outdoor gear, we watched a bird soar over the sage field and lake.
"It's a small hawk or maybe an owl. The head looks like an owl," Sam said.
Darkness came early; I beckoned Jack, the cat, to come inside but he stopped, uneasy, and stared into the woods. There was a sound unlike any I'd ever heard. Not at all like the snort of a deer warning its young, then the sound of deer running through the woods. This sound was different, and it didn't run. There was thrashing, a scream, but no running.
Snow dusted across the Prairie, temperatures plummeted. Sam built a wood fire. We have other heat sources, but firewood is cheap and available and propane has become high and unavailable.
My wildlife biologist brother spent some time with us over the holidays. Coming through the door, he said, "Being the creative type, I saw something that you might want, but you have to tell me right now so I can go get it."
Sam looked pitiful, with sad eyes peering over the face mask. As soon as the doctor verified the flu diagnosis on went the mask.
The Prairie house became a B&B throughout the holidays. Family members returned again and again, sheets and towels ran continually through the Maytag, decaf or high octane coffee was served with or without cream and sugar, and a continual flow of baked goods streamed in through the front door, compliments of the neighbors.
There is a man who often mails books, and when the postal clerk asks the obligatory, "Is there anything hazardous or flammable in the package?" He answers, "Yes, words."
For days he asked, "Is it Christmas yet?"
"No Daddy, still two more days."
Our roles were reversed; now the daddy asked the child, "Is it Christmas yet?"
The Bardwells were cooped up on the weekend with colds. Since Sam and I were both sick we scratched around the house looking for something we could do. We wrote Christmas cards, wrapped presents, watched football games and a Christmas movie while passing the Kleenex box back and forth.
"It wasn't always an island," Sam explained. "The channel redirected the Tombigbee River cutting off Highway 82 and creating the island." On a cold Sunday afternoon drive Sam shared 50-year-old memories.
"Standing in the checkout line, I watched as a white-haired lady began to put her groceries on the conveyor belt. She caught my attention because her sweater was funky and full of life. She'd already put a few items on the counter when the cashier said, 'I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm closing."
One ladybug chased the other, and this made me think that perhaps I had captured a male and a female. I'm no entomologist, but I'm thinking maybe.
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