Over the River and Through the Woods ... by C.L. Beck
Muir Woods © National Park Service, Wikimedia Commons
A few weeks ago, when the weather was hot enough to make the hens lay hard-boiled eggs, we talked about taking a drive up the canyon to enjoy some cool air and take pictures. By "we" I mean my husband, Russ, whose idea of fun is sitting in an air-conditioned TV room and eating huge mounds of ice cream, and my dog, Corky Porky, whose version of recreation is slurping ice cream out of the bowl when Russ is done.
Yes, I know it's disgusting, but I've told Russ that mounds of ice cream aren’t good for his cholesterol.
I stood in front of Russ, blocking the television with my body. Not that my backside is the size of a 42-inch TV screen, but it does obstruct some of it. I made eye contact with him, hoping to impress Russ with the vastly important message I was about to deliver. "I'd like to take my stuffed bear, Swayze, up the mountains and take some pictures of him in the woods. I could use the photos on greeting cards. Would you like to come along?"
Well, okay, maybe what I really said was, “You are definitely coming along with me up the canyon so that I don’t get eaten by a four-legged creature or attacked by muggers!”
Russ stared at me, wordless. I wasn't sure if that meant he had too much ice cream in his mouth to talk, or if he’d heard me wrong and was envisioning battling a four-legged mugger. Finally he said, "Umm, it's really hot out and I don't think it's going to be much cooler up the canyon.”
Corky Porky tilted his head at the word “cooler” and broke into a barking frenzy, which I interpreted as a show of solid support for my proposed jaunt. Really, I’m sure there was no way he barked because he knew “cooler” was where the food goes.
After much gentle persuasion on my part toward Russ—something akin to day trading at the stock exchange, where I gave up having Russ do dishes for a week in trade for his companionship—we packed up the dog, the stuffed bear (that would be Swayze, not Russ) and headed up the canyon.
No more than fifteen minutes later, and a mile or two up the road, I noticed a pattern of large splotches on the asphalt. Unfortunately, so did Russ. “Uh-oh,” he said. “It looks like cows are being herded up the canyon.”
Cows! That meant cow manure at every step. That also meant my fearless bodyguard would want to return home.
And so would Russ.
“That’s probably not from cattle,” I said, hedging. After all, we hadn't actually seen any cows on the road. “Somebody probably dropped a watermelon or two.”
Russ looked at me and raised his eyebrows. “Watermelon is red, and does not in any way resemble hay after it's been through the cow.”
“Well, watermelon has a green rind and when squished by a tire looks like cow pies!”
“Humph,” Russ said. Thank goodness the sharp curves in the road, and the piles of cow pies … er ... I mean, watermelons, kept his attention for the next several miles.
We finally arrived at a nice little meadow, stopped the car, and climbed out. Regardless of the fact that it wasn’t much cooler than it’d been in the valley, I set the teddy bear on a stump and started shooting photos.
“Dang!” Russ said. “There are flies here. They’re eating Corky and me up!” The sound of Russ slapping at the little buggars echoed off the canyon walls and almost distracted me from taking photos.
I fired off a few more shots.
“The flies can’t be that bad,” I said, repositioning Swayze, and hoping that my perspiration dripping onto the camera wouldn’t hamper its ability to get a clear focus.
“Oh yeah? Take a look!”
I turned and saw flies—ones with the accuracy of F-22 Stealth Raptors—attacking Russ and Corky Porky Pie. Russ waved his hands in the air, trying to fend them off, while Corky snapped at them with his teeth.
And then I realized they were also after me. I grabbed Swayze and tore off for the car, nearly running into a tree while trying to wipe sweat out of one eye and watching for cow patties with the other. Russ and Corky Porky Pie followed close behind. By the time we got inside the SUV, we were breathing heavy and perspiring like pigs at a luau.
“So much for it being cooler up here,” Russ said, causing Corky Porky to erupt in another barking frenzy. Only this time inside the car and inches from our ears.
You’ll be happy to know we made it home again with one ear apiece that could still hear, and only fifty-eleven fly bites. I learned my lesson, though. Never, ever again will I try convincing Russ that cow patties are actually smashed watermelons on the canyon road.
No sir-ee. Next time I’m telling him those are key lime pies … and I’m taking along bug spray to protect me from the muggers-disguised-as-flies.
------© C.L. (Cindy) Beck------
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