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.
Ladybugs swarmed by the thousands. They whirled around the porch ceiling; they crawled on the side of the house, the garage, the boat shed. Ladybugs landed on our arms. When one took flight, three took its place.
Critters were building huts in the dam. Be it nutria or beaver, I thought I could trap it in my live trap.
I watched for the rising and lowering of the fox's side for some sign of breath. I thought there was none, but you want to be sure before you grab a fox by the tail. I learned my lesson once with a possum.
Shirley, my walking partner, invites some online friends to stay with her about once or twice a year. Cec (short for Cecilia) came from Toronto, Canada, and was the first to arrive.
Campers are an interesting lot. They've always been the nicest folks -- they share, they help, they send Christmas cards.
"Nose into the wake," Sam hollered. We were out for a little kayak fishing on Bear Creek when three fancy bass boats sped by. As luck would have it, there was a bass tournament going on.
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