But carry a Big Stick.

This story was written on 4/29/06.  I am posting it today in honor of Parker’s 10th Birthday, as this is one of his most memorable habits.

This part of the Ozarks has been very dry.  Grass in the pastures was already crisp under your feet.  Farmers were worried about hay availability and many had begun selling cattle, since the hay that would be available would be very expensive.  However, last Sunday it began raining.  This week, each day has begun an ordinary Ozarks spring morning, followed by an ordinary Ozarks spring evening.  One morning the mist across the valley was so thick that headlights on the road were only visible as they reached the creek near the house.  There is nothing ordinary about ordinary any more, so each day is to be appreciated fully.

Greg had gone to other parts of the farm on the tractor, and since he had been gone for a while, I became curious about what he was doing and whether all of the cows were where they were supposed to be.  Parker wanted to go out with me, so we took a walk down the hill toward the bottomland.  I stopped to replant some flax that was growing outside of the planter, an old watering tank.  As we proceeded along the road, I held my breath a few times as he stepped, just barely missing a big wet pile of cow poop, not fresh, but thoroughly wet from all of the rain.  I wasn’t planning to give a bath this morning.

It has been a long time since there has been water in the creek, even enough for wading.  After at least 3 inches of rain this week, the spring pool had a bounty.  Parker waded in, of course, without hesitating.  He enjoyed getting his feet wet and went from one end to the other.  There were some limbs from a nearby tree that had accumulated in the pool while it was dry, and one of those was a source of joy to Parker as he hauled it proudly onto the bank below the large Sycamore tree.  It was a Big Stick, and navigating it up along the bank among the other limbs was quite an accomplishment.  That felt so good that he went back in immediately and brought up another.  I heard the tractor approaching and knew that there would be a swarm of cows and calves around it, so I urged Parker to come with me back toward the house.  He wasn’t ready yet.  He went back in again and searched with his head under water a few times, then came up with a Really Big Stick.  This one was big in diameter as well as long.  Greg must have seen me with Parker and slowed the tractor, although the cows had decided to remain behind.  Parker had a good grip on his new Stick and came along with ease, carrying it all the way up the hill and into the yard.  He didn’t set it down until he reached his favorite spot in the yard, where he laid down with it underneath him and proceeded to chew on his Stick.  His expression clearly demonstrated the value of his new acquisition.  It was so large that he could barely get his mouth on it.  What a Prize Stick!

The fun spoiler was only a few steps behind, saying “Play with it but don’t eat it.”  Greg had parked the tractor and was walking toward us.  We sat in the swing for a while and visited while Parker sat close to us, in his favorite position, directly in front of me.  The swing can’t swing when he parks himself there, but it was a nice time to enjoy each other’s company.

Greg decided to remove the new sprouts from where a Kentucky Coffee Bean tree had been cut down.  Those trees are survivalists.  This time, he applied Tordon RTU to the area where the newly emerging trees were cut.  It is in an area where the dogs and horses don’t have access.  We sat on the concrete platform by the old barn while Greg cut the trees.  I had a bottle of apple juice, or as Parker prefers to think of it, a toy in the making.  I could bait this dog so well with an apple juice bottle.  He laid next to me, almost patiently waiting for me to finish my drink, rather, empty the bottle.  Roadway came over, seeing an empty lap in need of a cat.  All empty laps are in need of a cat, first cat, first serve.  The bay horses were grazing nearby, and the normally white (grey) Arabian mare decided to enjoy a roll in the mud.  She looks like a grey and white paint horse now.  The birds were very busy and happy.  Roadway decided to lie on the concrete and stretch his belly to get the full warmth of the sun.  Midnight watched from his pasture across the barnyard.

Today is a lovely day in the Ozarks.

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