Friday, August 01, 2008

Wild Life in the Ozarks

American Black Bear
aka Big Varmint
(Image from Wikipedia)

Uncle Cran again regales us with his wild, wild life, which reminds me of a Talking Heads song . . . for no substantive reason that I can imagine.

Anyway, my uncle begin with his usual insults about my blog:
Jeffery, your blog seems to be losing it's oomph, and some aren't attracting many responses.
Let's 'translate' this insult into standard English:
Jeffery, your blog seems to be losing its oomph, and some entries aren't attracting many responses.
Now that we know what Uncle Cran is talking about, we can retort, "What are you talking about?!" No responses? I get thousands of responses every day, most of which I immediately delete from the comments section because the majority of my readers are interested neither in removing inches from their waistlines nor in adding inches to their elsewheres. As for losing "oomph" . . . well, I've little interest in some ill-defined something-or-other that moves at "double-aught mph." Twice as fast as zero is still zero. Ask a mathematician if you doubt my word.

Anyway, Uncle Cran claims to have another story:
Perhaps another true, accurate, honest (and any other apt descriptions one might add), story, could give you another opportunity to attack my veracity, intellect, and ability to recall incidents in my past. I DO HAVE A 'PAST,' BUT THAT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
Yes, we know all about your wild youth, Uncle Cran, for you've made it our business, but let's not go there. Rather, let us continue your story of another sort of wild life:
May JK . . . join you as you disect my story, and point out my flaws.
Regular reader JK will undoubtedly thank you for this invitation and pleasantly offer what you've called his "polite sarcasm," but stop digressing, learn the difference between "bisect" and dissect," and get on with your story:
A Fish, a Fire, a Dog, and a Bear
I remember it as though it were yesterday!!!!! Which is strange, because I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, or even early today.This was about my 13th birthday. (Notice the "about")? There is your opening, Jeff!
I never need an "opening," Uncle Cran, but since you've offered me one, I will note that you're again falling into that "weakly rambling" habit that you yourself have contrasted with Cousin Bill's more gripping "Weekly Ramblings." But back to your story:
One fine late summer afternoon the urge to go fishing again won over my normal desire to read and laze around on the front porch. I told mom I was going fishing, and [would] stay after dark, because that's when the catfish seemed to be easiest to catch. In my worn overalls, barefooted, cane pole in hand, can of worms, {which I shouldn't mention because nephew Jeffery always wants to open such with his incisive sarcasm},
-- Uncle Cran, I would never interrupt a story already in progress --
some matches, my genuine imitation Barlow knife, stringer, and accompanied by my faithful young dog (a mixed breed female that exhibited qualities of a shepherd {similar to a collie}), I was on my way.

This time the goal was to try the "Evans Hole." This was a unique spot. There was a shallow entry to this favorite swimming hole, about 3 feet deep, that gradually reached a depth of over six feet, then getting shallower on down to a gravel bar . . . [where it] was only a foot or so deep (foot here = 12"). The pool was about 30 feet across at the widest point. The entry was a 10-foot-long and 4-feet-high rock platform, and another the same size, just right to sit and take your clothes off before swimming. This swimming hole was probably 50 feet long.

It was nearing dusk and getting cool, so I gathered up leaves, brush, and short pieces of logs, built a fire, and began fishing, my dog "Shep" nestled at my feet. Fishing was slow, but I did manage to catch a few small perch and catfish. It was really dark by now, as clouds began to obscure the sky, and a light misty rain began falling.

Suddenly, my dog began to growl, and crowded right against my feet, shivering with fear. Then across the creek, I heard something moving toward us! It was BIG, as I could hear it pushing its way through the thick brush, getting closer and closer. It was moving slowly and deliberately toward us, and fear thrilled through my body. It came right to the edge of the water across from me, the bank was steep there and whatever it was was silently observing me. My imagination ran through all the possibilities: A cougar (mountain lion, or panther, as the locals called them),or perhaps a bear, as more were being seen in our area.

I could only think of one thing to do. I picked a stick about two feet long and perhaps four inches thick, that was blazing and with live coals on it, and hurled it toward the creature! It turned and started to run. When it did, it's foot slipped into the water with a loud "plunk," then I heard it crashing through the brush and out of hearing.

Now what should I do? I picked up my fish, threw the worms into the creek, gathered my other gear, all this in my left hand, and picked up another burning stick and headed home, all the time waving it around and around as I walked home, my faithful, cowardly dog right at my heels. My dog didn't understand she was supposed to be like "Old Shep" in the movies, and defend me to the death. Somehow in her doggie mind, the roles were reversed. But we made it home safely.

Talking to my folks, we decided it was one of the black bears that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission had turned loose.
Well, Uncle Cran, that story was actually rather gripping, even more enthralling than Cousin Bill's ramble across state lines. I especially liked the part where you courageously threw those worms into the creek and . . . . Oh, wait, there's more to this story:
This reminds me of another bear story, you might want to put into the blog.
Oh, it's a different story. Are you rambling again?
It is a true story.
Naturally. No one would ever doubt your true stories.
One of our neighbors about this time saw a bear by his barn. He shot it, then loaded it into the back of his pickup, and took it to town to show everybody. Unfortunately for him, two game wardens were there, and arrested him for shooting this (at the time protected from hunting) animal. There was to be a trial a couple of weeks later.

By then all the neighbors were up in arms (LITERALLY!). On the day of the trial the square around the Salem, AR courthouse was full of pickup trucks, and one of the biggest crowds of angry farmers seen for a while. They had their guns in the rack across the back window of their trucks. The game wardens wisely left the area.

The judge talked to the man, and said, "Mr Brown, since you didn't know these animals had been stocked by the AGFC people, no notice had been given to the public, I am going to let you go. Can you promise you won't shoot another bear?"

Mr. Brown said, "Your honor, if I ever see another one, and shoot it, no one will know except me and the bear."

And I swear that everything here recorded is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as in all my stories.
Uncle Cran, I've never doubted that a word you've written is precisely a word that you've written, and the words above are precisely as you've written them.

You can be proud of your words, too, for they are even now being read by individuals the world over . . . individuals who were, perhaps, initially interested either in removing inches from their waistlines or in adding inches to their elsewheres but who have now ascended to higher things because of your uplifting stories.

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At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll have to come back and read the entire "story" later. The news is about to come on.

I don't know about the Talking Heads thing, sounds more like Van Morrison to me.

"Inches" you say?


At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or was that "Wild Night?"

In which case I guess it might be Talking Heads.


At 7:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I was just about to ask "Which Van Morrison?" . . . but you've already pre-responded.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well spoken, Jeffery, and like a true Hodges clan member. I myself would take umbrage (wish I knew what that means, but it sounds good) at anyone trying to dictate my topics of discussions.
That happened to me in my pastorate in La Junta, Co, and I immediately informed them it was my option what topics on which I should speak, and not theirs!
My motive was to hopefully stir up a little oomph among your readers, not to mention with you.
After all, what are for friends for?
Would you believe I enjoyed your "drinking smoke," Milton blogs, and also your (shall we say, 'different' poems?

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Umbrage"? Is that how it's spelled? I always thought it was "umbridge" -- like a bridge around rather than over an obstacle.

Anyway, I take it that we are now a mutual-admiration society of two: We each like each other's writings as much as we each like each other's writings.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful response, Jeffery, and I think I liked it better the second time.

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But where did the second one go?
It showed up twice a moment ago.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, it did post twice. A computer glitch, I reckon, but I immediately deleted it.

You simply happened onto the doublet in the brief, very brief time between appearance and deletion.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:15 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I didn't doubt one word of this bear story until I read the words "as I walked home". I know my uncle is always truthful, but how about being honest here and correct the words to read "and I hauled ass to the house".

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bill, that's clearly what Uncle Cran meant, but being a reverEND, he's used to finer terminology than expressions like "reverse-ass homeward."

But like you, I found that part about 'walking' to be, at the very least, understated.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may just be me but has anyone else ever noticed that every story, whether sleeping on the lake, this latest, always begins with a fishing trip?

My own Grandad, being the Baptist that he was, always elicited open-mouthed admiration from the gathered crowd when he held his arms wide and said, "The fish was this BIG!"

It was only later that one of my cpusins showed me a picture in which Grandad was shown telling a "fish story" that I noticed that while his arms were outstretched, the fingers on one hand were also outstretched.

His digits spanned about four inches or so. He was grinning. The picture was in black and white but as far as I could tell, his grin seemed the most genuine thing in the photograph. And Al Gore, as near as I can tell hadn't invented the internet yet, so I know he hadn't invented PhotoShop yet neither. I mean the picture was that old.

Kind of like Cran (not really Cran-I seem to find myself mathmatically closer to yourself than I would have considered possible a few decades past).

Grandad had another bit in his lunchbag that he shared with me. Apparently he was a hunter too, and Davy Crockett hisself could'nah beat his aim.

He had one shot at six turkeys set upon a limb so he did what every person of the same caliber as Cran seems to be-he shot so that the limb the turkeys were a' clamberin' on split-thus trapping their turkey toes, and he brought home six instead of the one I would've.

Of course this story began with a fishing trip too. He got the turkeys after wading a creek in which a whole bunch of catfish became entrapped because he was wearing his older brother's high-top boots.

Jeff, apparently you and I don't keep our powder as dry as the "oldtimers" do.

But then again, I have a slight problem with, "as I was walking home" after a bear attack so fierce it made a dog cringe. My Mama had one of them Mexican named dog breeds that would've committed to a full frontal attack against obviously overwhelming odds.

I'd spell the breed but because I'm sure to mis-spell it, Cran would surely cast aspersions on my observations.. It begins with "C" though.

Little dog, short hair. Piss and vinegar in a small container.


At 12:38 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I believe that with this appeal to the likes of Davy Crockshett, we've approached that fantastic land where all tall tales ring true in a universal willing suspension of disbelief.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Jeff,

Too willing perhaps. I wish I'd gone back and read the previous comment train where I found-

"After scolding me, she laughed, then corrected me. We actually were at another creek a few miles further south. Did I mention that sometimes my memory fails in minor details, but that is an 'innocent mistake,' and should no count against my true, honest, and faithful recounting of past events."

Linda Gay?

Is it possible you might exercise some control over Cran when he has access to a "live computer?"


At 12:56 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, it's a good suggestion, but how do we get it past Uncle Cran to his honest wife?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:59 PM, Blogger Bohemian in Korea said...

Tell Uncle Cran to put a sock in it. The Bohemian and I enjoy your lovely discourse. Although quite frequently we are divided on the religious issues I being a follower of Buchis and The Bohemian being an Irish Catholic we often are at odds. But even when we are confused by your learned discourse we agree that you are a light in the darkness.

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I considered that too. And I surmise that she must exercise some small degree of supervision over him, else he was not likely to survive to the advanced age that he has apparently attained.

It is likely as not that she is aware that he is "tinkering with the machinery" but hasn't realized that it is hooked up to the net.

Kinda like those kids who "accidently dial 911" which then results in SWAT Teams surrounding some unwary caretaker causing unfortunate stuff.


At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery, you ask, what is "umbrage?"
I suppose it is similar to "road rage," but the person can't recall what he or she is angry about, and just says "umb."
Umb+rage = umbrage if combined.
Nephew Bill, you might recall my dog was "tripping" {literally} at my heels, and I was walking slowly and as quietly as possible, listening intently to see if the bear was trailing me. And as you recall, I was hauling perch and catfish, not {let's just say 'donkey'}.
JK, thank you for your recital of "true" tales to supplement your faith in my veracity. I believe your every word. And I think the correct spelling is - Chihuahua,huahua.......SOMEB0DY STOP ME!!! I can also spell "Banana.nanana....," if I only knew where to stop!
Also your spieling...spelling...has improved remarkably.
Bo-h-inK and the other anonymous "Bo," thank your for your input. However at that age we Arkansas hillbillies did not wear socks from april until september, thus none were available to put anywhere.
In conclusion, my point is well proven...........a great deal of "oomph" was created by my true, honest, and intriguing tale.
Jeffery, please take note!
Someday in the distant future, if my "dear blog friends" cry and plead, I might be persuaded to regale Y'all with another masterful tale of yesteryear.......if I can only remember!

At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife is presently at the nursing home tending to her mom, and won't be back for at least another two hours.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, I got up late and have had to deal with so many emails -- over 30! -- that I have little energy or time to respond to each and every comment.

So . . . I will just say this. JK, I'll send you the phone number of Uncle Cran and Aunt Gay, and I believe that you'll manage from there.

Also, in case there is ever any misunderstanding among various readers of my 'fine' blog, Uncle Cran and I are always joshing with each other.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether joshing or joking, {pokin' fun, in hillbilly lingo}, it has been entertaining, fun, and hopefully put a little 'oomph' in your (youin's} stale and uneventful lives.

At 3:00 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

I'm skeptical.

Sorry, Cran...I can't help it.

I've been traipsing through the Izard County woods all my life...especially the past two years...and I've never seen a bear in the Ozarks.

Nor a black panther, neither!

If my co-worker hadn't brought in the four front paws of two bob-cats his son had trapped this past winter, I wouldn't be so sure about accepting it if you told us you had encountered one of them!

This guy up in Canada tells me I'm stupid for believing there is a God, you know? He says there just ain't nairn evidence!

Personally, I reckon there's more evidence for a Divine Creator in Heaven than there is for black-bear, black-panther, or...bob-cats!

Since I h'ain't never seen either of those critters, I have a hard time believeing they even exist!

Dang my hide!

The paws could have come from a big yellow tabby, right?

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"If my co-worker hadn't brought in the four front paws of two bob-cats his son had trapped this past winter, I wouldn't be so sure about accepting it if you told us you had encountered one of them!"

Daddio, I once encountered a wild bobcat paw in the Ozark backwoods. The paw went for my throat, but I fought it off with a big club. Just barely. I'm mighty glad that I didn't encounter the entire bobcat! Anyway, ever since that experience, I believe everything that people tell, even the ridiculous stuff.

Jeffery Hodges

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