Boots here and a good day to you from your Badass Coffee Babe. Roy Orbison has it just right: “I may be a living legend but that sure don’t help when I’ve got to change a flat tire.”
I love Roy’s nod to reality. We elevate our living legends to such heights . . . and then realize that they simply are good tire-changing folk just like us. The kind of people who you invite into your cabin for a cuppa and a sit by the fire to have a good B.S. session.
People are so interesting. They grab our attention with the stories of their varied lives. Here’s a cheers to the living legends and also to the rest of us extra-ordinary people who know how to change a flat tire and who realize that this is life as it is.
Scroll down and take a listen to some of Roy Orbison’s A Black & White Night. Life is a singular event. Make it a Living Legend event by navigating life’s map and changing flat tires as they present.
Boots here. It’s one of those Guy Clark mornings when the fog, moving like a freight train in a hurry, is scraping the tops off of the other islands across the sound. There’s something about this movement that gives me pause to sit and think and just absorb the moment. I can sure feel the fall weather moving in on the backs of those clouds.
Here’s some Guy Clark for your morning. Have a great day. Life is a lively event and here’s to saying yes to whatever opportunities that life presents today.
Boots here with some fabulous Saturday morning music for you to enjoy with your coffee. This music is nothing short of fantastic. Brilliant. Energetic. Super fun! Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye. This is the sort of line-up that puts a smile on your face and gets your toes tapping.
And this lively music combined with my morning Joe? Well, nothing’s going to stop me today from putting my best left foot forward and dancing like I mean it. After all, is there anything more fun than some lively dancing? Be it on a crowded dance floor or in your laundry room . . . while walking down the driveway or mucking out the stalls. Dancing is one of those primary elements that makes the world go round. It’s true. It really is.
So this weekend, get out there and shake your thang. Have a good time. Appreciate the beat of the tunes and the beat of your heart.
Sam & Dave – Soul Man (1967)
Otis Redding “Try A Little Tenderness” Live 1967
Otis Redding, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, from MIPF 1967
Marvin Gaye- Got to Give It Up (Long version). TV Performance 1977
Boots here on this beautiful summer day . . . pointing my compass and seeking Higher Ground today . . . and keeping my heart pointed true.
It seems as if some days my compass gets swiveled around and I find myself turning around in circles. I think we all experience this from time to time. Not knowing which way our compass is pointing or from which direction the winds are blowing or how high the river is going to rise. There are so many uncertainties in life.
It is when I am out in the wilderness and trying to figure out which way to go on a “gently-used” (read invisible) trail when I most have to rely on my compass. And on my internal compass — my intuition — as well. There is something about aligning my intuition with the jittering of the compass needle that makes me feel ultra-alive. Add to this a tiny and disconcerting sliver of the great unknown that lies ahead . . . you have a pretty good recipe for being in the moment.
Well, I am here now clacking away on the keyboard, so that must mean that I chose the right and true directions out there in the woods. Still, this is not to say that I haven’t arrived home or back in camp without some mean bruises, scrapes, blackberry scratches, and nettle stings to remind me that lucky as I am to feel “found” again, it wasn’t without some discomfort along the trail.
Like life, we don’t really ever know if we have chosen the perfect directions . . . those directions that lead us to a sense of home, unscathed and happy. There are always going to be forks in the trail, creeks to be forded, blazes that are tricky to find.
I once asked an old-timer, this tough Bull of the Woods, why blazes were cut so high up on the trees? He answered me with one word, “Snow.” Blazes, the recognizable scars you see high up on trees, are marked to establish a true line. This line is run by what is called a “random and true” line method, ensuring that the trail can be followed through the woods. Blazes are cut high up on the tree to allow for them to read during the wintertime’s heavy snowfall.
If you have ever been on skis or snowshoes in the forest in the dead of winter, you know how amazingly well a trail can hide in the wintertime. So, a resounding Yay! for those who have gone before us with the foresight of cutting those blazes high for us — no matter how high the snow gets, we are still able to follow that random and true line. [And I sometimes wonder if this foresight was learned partially by some tough-love from Mother Nature.]
So, if you are going to be relying on blazes, you have to take your eyes off the ground and look up for that random and true line that will lead you back home.
All of this to say, the change-ability of life is inevitable. But the compass, if I trust it, will point in the direction that will determine my new destiny. When I think on it, true directions aren’t always going to be the Easy Path in life. Sometimes it means doing what I have to do, reminding myself on a daily basis that this current paradigm is temporary. That sometimes life kind of sucks and I feel kind of lost . . . and it’s up to me to get out my compass, line up with true north, and head off on a new adventure that will lead me out of my current temporary into a whole new feeling of temporary.
I listen to this music and see all of the collaborative effort that went into its recording. It takes a lot of energy to make stuff like this happen. I respect it. And I also respect the effort that people put into reaching a higher level of consciousness.
Here is some great music for you to check out! Click on the images/links below. Have a fantastic day, listen to good music, follow the blazes, and head in your true directions.
Boots here with some Monday morning cheer. This little pup knows how to make snoozing look pretty darned luxurious. Coffee in bed, indeed!
I don t know about you but come Monday morning, the thought of adding another morning to the weekend, reserved for sleeping in and a second cup of coffee sounds pretty good.
For this Monday morning, think about treating yourself to some caffeinated sunshine. Go to your favorite coffee shop and order that fancy latte that you have been thinking of ordering. Go in to work a few minutes later, should that be an option. Linger over the newspaper for a few more minutes. Order a doughnut at that crazy-good doughnut shop that everyone is always raving about . . . what a fun way to salute the week. Sometimes you just gots to step out of the day-to-day routine of healthy-eating discipline and order a doughnut.
Today? Make it extraordinary. Me? I am thinking about one or three things that I plan to do that will make my day even better. I am going to take the wobble out of my favorite music stand, chase some sunshine, go on my Meditation Walk, and organize some writing. One thing I know I am going to do is make a fantastic caramel mocha, put my feet up on my desk, watch some fun youtube videos, and just while away a few moments while I drink my coffee . . . all of this to be woven into my day of honest labor. There are days that feel as if “work” has robbed the hours from my good intentions . . . but not today. Today is reserved for Extraordinary.
And about the time that you think life is just one work day after another, take some sunshine into the workplace with you. Do something nutty. Dance like a long-armed, 3-toed sloth in front of a co-worker who won’t understand. Wear your shirt backward. Mismatch your socks. Braid your hair into pigtails. Wear only one earring. Pick a bouquet of dandelions and give them to a co-worker. Smile at every single person you see today. Stand up and stretch, on the hour. I don’t know . . . just do something to make the day memorable and good. Drink good coffee — that always helps make the day a happy place for me.
And check out some of these fun Monday morning coffee treats and accessories. Life truly is but a breath. Enjoy yourself and be kind one to another. Click on the images (or the links) below and have fun doing some imagining on this Monday morning.
. . . AND scroll to the bottom to listen to an AWESOME Monday morning song! Make today all you hope it will be .
Camp coffee . . . camp toast! Camp toast is so much fun, I could write an ode to camp toast . . . although I don’t think I could write a more beautiful ode than OK Go’s “Last Leaf” video (below). This is such a beautiful song and their creative and fanciful and artistic use of toast is nothing short of exquisite. Please, do watch it. The melody, like a good cup of Joe, will stay with you throughout the day in a good way.
Camp toast. It’s like comfort food on the trail and so simple to make. Add some almond butter and slice some fruit on top of it all, and you have yourself a very hearty breakfast that delivers good hearty nutrition with minimal time expenditure.
When I think of Camp Toast, I think of a buckaroo named Bill. Bill was a Late Hire on our Whip-It Crew. Being on a Whip-It Crew involved going into a post-logged slash area and cutting out all of the little saplings and shrubs that were sprouting up, prior to re-planting. I am sure that there is someone out there who is going to say that there is no such thing as a Whip-It Crew . . . It doesn’t sound very woodsy-technical, I will agree — so I just want provide the caveat that this is what we called our crew for that and subsequent contracts involving the removal of adverse vegetation in a slash area.
Being on the Whip-It Crew was not what I would call Fun. It played with your mind and the day did not move quickly. The work involved tripping your way through acres of slash while being whipped about the face and body by lithesome sprouting trees. In order to get an early start to beat the heat, we had to wake up very early in order to get a cool start on the day. We would climb into the Crummy each morning to save gas and to afford the non-drivers some extra sleep. Who knew that we were way ahead of the Rideshare curve?
Much to our ever-heightening annoyance, Bill used to arrive late to the Crummy every morning. Every single morning. He’d come roaring into the Meeting Lot, a wide spot on Highway 54, in his ’72 Chevy — spraying an arc of gravel while chewing on the end of wadded up cigar. I am guessing that Bill’s overall effect was one of eccentricity and I’m sure funny as hell to anyone who didn’t have any alarm-clock association with him. But funny to us on the crew? Not so much.
I remember the morning Bill came skidding into the parking lot wearing some old WWII aviator goggles. The goggles being necessary as his windshield was blown out. When we asked him about it — how could you not? — he grumbled something or other about a Late Night and Trees that Jumped in Front of His Rig. Who knows what the real story was, but I am suspecting it had something to do with reading his fortune at the bottom of a gin bottle. You would have thought seeing some old Bull of the Woods cruising down the highway wearing these vintage goggles, his longish gray-black hair blowing back in the 55-MPH-generated breezes, would have been hilarious. Heck, he could have likely pulled over alongside the road and charged tourists good money for a ride in his plane-mobile. But to us? His chronic lateness stripped him of any comic relief. I can laugh now, but not so much at the time.
Check out cakespy.com’s blog for the recipe to make these jumbo cinnamon rolls! Link below . . .
Bill’s extra snooze time each morning cost us precious minutes at Carol’s Coffee Cup. Carol’s was famous for its fresh pie straight out of the oven and its hot cinnamon rolls the size of small dinner plates. You might think I am exaggerating, but it’s true. One of those rolls could send you into a sugar coma for the rest of the Crummy ride up the mountain to the unit. And it then took some serious suggesting to get us roused and ready to tackle the Whip-It work that lay ahead of us for the day. We would still be in that big of a stupor from all of Carol’s sugary goodness.
We loved Carol’s Coffee Cup — there was no other way to put it. We stopped there every morning before heading up the hill. Carol’s was a Dream Way to start out the morning. It made the morning tolerable, or as Bill would say: tol-uh-ble. I have mentioned the memorable pie and the cinnamon rolls and, even better yet, Carol’s version of a refill-to-go- was having one of the cheerful be-calico-aproned waitresses fill each of our Stanleys to the brim with Carol’s Signature Yuban before we loaded our sorry asses back into the Crummy.
Carol’s Signature Yuban had an extra sort of something to it that I could never quite put my finger on. One day I just up and asked one of the Aprons — what all of the regulars affectionately or otherwise called the be-aproned waitstaff — what it was about Carol’s coffee that made it taste the way it did. Pink Apron said that Carol sprinkled ground cinnamon on top of the grounds before it started to percolate. Carol figured that the cinnamon made it kind of special that way. I am guessing that it was Carol’s way of making Designer Coffee out of a sow’s ear, being that Yuban wasn’t what I would call the most premium hipster bean on the coffee house market.
I can’t really say that I was ever that fond of Carol’s coffee additive, but I had to hand it to her for pure ingenuity. And those cork-booted boys loved Carol’s coffee, cooking, and service. When they saw a piece of hot apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese melting on the top set before them, they felt like no less than King Solomon.
Snooze Button Bill was one of those annoying patrons who thought he owned the joint. He would cluck about the downside of our cinnamon roll rush while he ordered himself his standard 2 eggs (sunny side up), 2 sausage links, and 2 slices of white toast. Every single morning.
When Bill ordered, he would state his preference as to the runniness of his sunny side uppers, the brownness of his links, and the degree of toasting that should be accorded his toast. His order wouldn’t have been so bad for the Aprons if he had simply stuck to the same script each morning. But he didn’t. It was all a Lesson of Degrees with Bill. He wanted the eggs pretty firm or kind of runny or clucking back to the cook. The sausages were pretty straight forward, but he would send back the toast if it wasn’t Pure Palamino Gold.
Suffice it to say, none of the Aprons liked taking Bill’s order. Bill would extol his Varied Reasons for the Inadequacy of the Toast when he sent it back. He would go off on some commentary, saying that there is just something about burnt toast that says someone didn’t care enough to check the setting before pushing the lever down. Or someone simply was neglectful. Or someone had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Silly stuff that only cemented the Aprons’ and our opinion of Bill’s backsidedness.
Of course, the cook could hear Bill’s Toast Soliloquy, and I swear she would send out at least one Burnt Trial Balloon — all designed to get Bill’s dander up — before Bill finally got the Palamino-Gold toast that he demanded.
Out on the trail was something different. Cookie would pull out the campfire toaster and, after having had to listen to two consecutive mornings of Bill’s Palamino-Gold laments, we were all left on our own when it came to toast. We were wisely allotted two pieces of bread each morning for our toasting pleasure. If we weren’t mindful and we ruined our Toast Prospects by burning it to smithereens, we were on our own. Cookie’s philosophy was pretty much Eat the Toast or return it to the ashes from which it originally came. You can’t argue with good sense like that.
I actually enjoyed the whole Mindful Process of Toasting Bread on a Campfire. You would be keeping a steady eye on your bread and it would be just about perfect for consumption and then — whoosh! — an errant draft would kick the flame into high action and your toast might get a dandy scorch. I have to admit that I liked the Uncertainty of the Endeavor. And when it came to toast, I pretty much ate any degree of toasting — burnt or otherwise — that went with the benefits of butter and jelly. And it is always true that food — as is life — is always pretty darned great when you are eating in the Fabulous Outdoors.
One morning in camp, Bill asked us to watch his toast for him. He must have thought we were Better People than we were — otherwise he wouldn’t have given up his Toast Autonomy to the likes of us. Maybe it was all of those mornings that we had to wait for Bill to show up at the Crummy. Maybe it was in honor of the patient Aprons who had been putting up with all of Bill’s Toast Nonsense. Maybe it was Juvenile Revenge — pure and simple. We waited for Bill to vacate the campfire premises, and we proceeded to incinerate Bill’s toast to the color and texture of a charcoal briquette.
The mind has a tendency to wander back to the Glimmers of Unexplained Irrelevancy, and I am guessing that this is what has happened here. Bill’s role in this post’s Ode to Toast is obtuse at best. He merely serves as the MacGuffin that brings Toast to the Campfire in this story. The real story here centers on how great Campfire Toast is when you are out in the woods . . . or when you are sitting around your own home firepit.
And I’d like to say that there is some kind of moral to share about Respect for Timeliness or Be Kind to Waitstaff, but there isn’t. All the Great Incineration gained anyone was the way that we laughed our asses off until we snorted when Bill came back and saw his Beloved Toast nothing but a wafer of carbon.
Bottom line: You can’t expect generosity from others when you are always riding their butts or acting all inconsiderate. We finished the contract but after the Carbon Toast Experience, Bill’s demanding ways grew to be more humorous than harmful. He still arrived late to the Crummy and we still complained about it, but there you go. There are times in life when you can’t change circumstances completely and this was one of them.
Simply put: There are times when you just go with the flow . . .and I am thinking that this is the Way of Toast.
Bill the MacGuffin aside, take a look these awesome camp toasters. I know that some of them might look like Rube Goldberg mouse traps, but they are so warm and fuzzy and reminiscent of times gone by. You can watch your toast brown or burn, depending on your tolerance for carbon. Get on board and get one of these for camping. They are reasonably priced and they are fun!
Heat Resistant Oven Mitts Set – Hot Gloves for Cooking BBQ Grilling – Flame Retardant Kevlar Provides 662F Protection – Bonus Ebook http://amzn.to/1PuDeYu
And what goes better with toast than a hot, steaming cup of Joe that is brewed to perfection. Imagine it. You are taking in the sunrise, the air smells so clean you could have sworn that it had been manufactured for this very moment, the birds are tweeting and twittering in the forest, and . . . wait! . . . was that a marmot you just heard whistling? Yep. You’re in the high country, your fire is crackling just right, the smoke is blowing just-so toward your blowhard Uncle Phil that is always waxing eloqent, and all is right with the world. Pour yourself another cup and get another piece of toast a’toasting. It’s the biggest goal you have to meet today. Life is pretty good, isn’t it?
And check out this functional and adorable coffee percolator. It is hearty, fun to use, stainless steel so it’s easy to clean and easy to pack!
Texsport Stainless Steel Coffee Pot Percolator for Outdoor Camping
And on a side note . . . in case you indulged a little too heartily with the brandy flask last night around the campfire . . . did you know that burnt toast will help a hangover? Yep. It will settle your tummy-brain upset just like that. Works every time! Maybe Bill should have switched his order from Palamino Gold to Burnt Black!
And you must watch this . . . I love this video! I guarantee that if you watch it once, you are going to watch it twice. So lovely of a tune and so imaginative. And that’s a heck of a lot of toast that went into the making of this very artistic video. Kudos to OK Go!
Boots here, signing off.
Wishing you happy trails of perfectly-toasted toast and a satisfying tale to go with it.
Life is a lively event. Watch your toast, drink coffee, and get to it.
What’s stopping you? xox Boots the Badass Coffee Babe
Boots the Badass Coffee Babe here. And aiming from the hip like a shooting star to the center of life’s love and happiness on this Friday morning.
As determined by the calendar, today is Friday. Or is it? Do we assign a Day-Feeling to Time? For some of us, it’s our real-time Friday. For some of us, it’s our Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or Sunday. We measure the days based on our perception of Relativity & Fun . . . Availability & Freedom . . . Choice & Priority . . . all relative to the Grand Scheme of How Life Flows.
That’s the thing about living a Lifestyle. It’s different from Work. And whether or not it’s my Friday or whether or not I am Lifestyling or Working, it’s always a great day to be part of the Human Race.
Enjoy today’s moments. If you even take 3 minutes and 22 seconds to pause and just partake in some relaxation, isn’t that a rewarding way to extend some appreciating into your Day? This video by OK Go is just plain fun. [OK Go makes the best videos!] Enjoy the fancy of it all and Happy Friday-Feeling to you!
This band deserves a huge shout out for their ingenuity and commitment to spreading FUN with their music! Click on their album below:
And . . . because the Weekend for Writing is ahead and because I can’t resist adding awesome things that strike my brand of Fanciful, check out this handmade saddle-bag style purse and journaling items. This next week, we are going to be digging into the 4 Fundamentals of Coffee along with some journaling fun. Me? I love journaling!!!!! And it’s always nice to have a stylish way to transport my ideas from one inspiring place to the next.
I l-o-v-e this bag!
Firu-Handmade Women Vintage Style Genuine Brown Leather Cross Body Shoulder Bag Handmade Purse
Happy Father’s Day. Happy Children’s Day. It takes a father to make a child to make a father . . . And on the legacy grows. Together, we create a circumference of love and trust, laughter and life.
This song is dedicated to the fathers who have gone before us. And to the fathers who are still here on Planet Earth. The Circle is strong and it is fragile. Move beyond yourself and tell the people in your family and in your life that you love them.
Love. It’s what keeps the circle whole and what makes it go ’round.
Happy happy Saturday. For some of you, Saturday morning conjures images of sleeping in, reading the paper while sipping your coffee, generating your to-do list for the weekend, starting a pot of soup or setting bread to rise, hitting the trail for a loop around the lake, deadheading the rhododendrons, or maybe thinking about throwing in a load or two of laundry . . . all of these quiet, pleasant activities that set a week of hard work behind you. It’s a day of restoration, a day of catching your breath. Yay for Saturday.
Others of you see Saturday as another work day that might even be a bit busier or a touch more demanding than the other days of the week. You might be waiting tables on a Saturday night or checking groceries in a tourist town food market or catching up on that work project when the office is finally quiet or lesson planning classes and grading papers for the following week or making up hours to fill your paycheck to your weekly max or working customer service at a large store where everyone takes care of their returns on Saturday. It is a day of watching your friends be friends: going to Farmers’ Market, lunching at the brew pub, engaging in Book Group, shopping for groceries or shoes . . . this sort of thing. It all looks to be pretty idyllic when you are the one working away while your friends are off playing and engaging in leisure activities. (Enter theme music): My Life on the Chain Gang.
Well, if you are part of this Saturday group, like so many of us are, this post is for you. And if you sometimes feel like you’ve sold your soul to the company store, you are going to love this version of “16 Tons” sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Enjoy the music below. I know that Saturday can feel harried, but try to take some time to enjoy some music. It is truly balm for the soul.
And while you are enjoying this music, snap your fingers, tap your toes, and dance. Yes, dance. When was the last time you just stood up and started dancing at home? Truly. When was the last time? And who cares if someone is watching. In fact, if someone is . . . even better. He or she might join in with you. Be a trend setter. Dance!
If you dance to these tunes below, please, please, please, share a comment as to how it made you feel. We’ll all enjoy reading about your dancing!
Happy working, happy Saturday, happy dancing, happy life.
Live is a lively event. Dance like someone is watching you, drink coffee, and get to it. What’s stopping you?
And when was the last time you watched O Brother, Where Art Thou? Or listened to the soundtrack? Fun! Maybe tonight would be the perfect night for it.
Boots here. Your Badass Coffee Babe shooting like a star from the hip today and telling it like it is. With the advent of Father’s Day, I am reminded of many things . . . memories of life-in-general this past year concerning my own father . . . times that now feel to be long ago and quite far away. I was thinking back to the summer when my father came to visit me up at my cabin and how, bored out of his gourd with no television for a week, he split enough firewood to last me nearly a month. I can still see that stack of split wood and that look of satisfaction of a job-well-done on his face, happy he was leaving me, his daughter, with the gift of time away from the woodshed splitting block.
These memories of life, love, firewood, and family have an odd way of percolating to the surface. During my time of living in that cabin, located on that effortful and toilsome trail, I met my share of fathers who wanted to share their love of the great outdoors with their sons and daughters. You can tell a lot about human nature by the way a parent introduces adversity and misery to their children regarding clouds of mosquitoes, leaking tents, smoky fires, forgotten necessities, and squirrel-pillaged rations. One father who stands tall in my memory is a man I call Caroline-y, a father who came huffing and puffing up the trail with his son Bud on one Especially-Rainy Day.
I was holed up in the cabin and feeling pretty darned certain that no one – and I mean no one – was going to be coming up the trail in all of that rain to ask about fishing, boats, horses, directions, or firewood. No, it was Flat Out Raining — a classic Pouring-Down-Your-Tin-Pants-Straight-Into-Your-Boots kind of rain. The kind of rain that says to you that you might as well just forget about the woolly sweater, the slicker, and the rubber poncho and just stay inside.
Anyone who has spent any time working out in the woods knows that, at a certain point, trying to “stay dry” under a steaming, streaming rubber poncho actually feels wetter than just going with the Literal Flow from the Heavens Above and accepting the fact that you are going to be soaked to the skin anyway. It might as well be God’s good replenishing water, rather than your own poncho-created condensation. There is some Measure of Liberation in just going with the way Nature is funneling life’s elements your way. Sometimes life is best if you don’t fight it and you just go with the Flow.
So, there I was. Rain drumming on the metal roof of the cabin. My feet propped up on the oven door and sitting just an easy arm’s length from my cup of Joe that was staying nice and hot on the stove-side warming tray. It was a day for getting caught up on my reading and for thinking about getting started on some chores that were on the list for Needing Doing that day.
I was dreaming my way through a supply catalog when the dogs came barreling out from behind the cookstove. They went tearing out the woodbox door– setting up a violent ruckus. I wondered, Who the hell would be out on the trail on a day like today?
Now the back door of my cabin didn’t set much more than 10 or so yards from the trail – the close proximity of which didn’t bother me much. I lived on a lake in the middle of a wilderness area surrounded by Absolute Nowhere that was only accessible by float plane or by trail. The trail to the lake was steep and had a way of winnowing out those who weren’t interested in mastering some serious elevation gain and the general hiking population, at best, was quite sparse.
The back door of the cabin was also my front door, as I never quite finished building the necessary deck and steps that would connect the Hanging Front Door to Terra Firma. You can bet that I kept the “front door” barricaded and locked from the inside, not wanting Anybody’s Fool to go through it and then ass over teakettle onto the dirt below, mistakenly thinking it was the nearest exit to the Bank. (The Bank being the Outhouse, thusly named by my illustrious predecessor.)
I suspected that the dogs might be barking at the arrival of the horses. Now these horses were a wily lot. They ran loose on the Rarity of Open Pasture – meaning that their only “fences” were purely topographical features – and it was a rip-roaring, two-dog-alarm when they tried to sneak in to the homestead through the criss-crossing game trails that led to the salt lick from the Bird Meadow. These horses were smart — smart enough to resort to covert actions, knowing that the odds were good to pretty-damned-great that they would be caught and captured and then put to work packing supplies up the hill from down below.
The sneaky devils generally came stealing in at nighttime for salt – or at least as stealthily as a one-ton animal can manage. The dogs barked with the same amount of gusto in the wee hours of the night upon their unannounced arrival, but I never felt obligated to go chasing horses at night – beings as their eyes pick up light much better in darker conditions than we humans can. The odds were certainly with them escaping against me capturing, what with me giving chase and tripping through the understory with a flashlight in one hand and a halter and oat bucket in the other. It was quite the scene to be certain, me stumbling and cussing and them flicking their tails and horse-laughing their rumps off.
Well, the dogs were barking beyond their usual call of Advance, dear woman! The evasive equines are noshing up at the salt lick! (In case you hadn’t surmised, I had some seriously eloquent canines.) I had no choice but to remove my backside from my place of comfort by the fire and check out the barking brouhaha.
I looked out the window and saw no sign of the Sneaky Devils up at the barn trying to get a nip of salt before bolting back into the forest. What I did see were two people, one adult and one kid who must have been about 10 years old, standing in the middle of trail looking puzzled by the anomalous sight of the cabin. They looked more soaked than two otters who just came in off the river for a spot of dry refreshment. The father was hacking and wheezing like a dedicated smoker and the kid just looked like a miserable human being who was not rightly into this whole idea of male bonding on this particular day of inclement weather.
I grabbed my slicker from the hook on the back of the door and went outside to ask them if they were lost. They explained that they were camped down below and saw this trail and wanted to see where it led. I think that their use of the collective pronoun we was a stretch, as the kid just kept his head down – trying to keep the stream of rain that was coming off his yellow-blonde forelock from getting in his eyes. I knew that feeling of Rain Misery and I felt for the kid.
I heard myself asking them if they wanted to come get warm in the cabin. The dad started to say Nah so I added, “I have water on to boil. I can make some cocoa for your wet friend here.” They came in and crowded around my table-for-one – a slab of wood hinged to the wall of the cabin that I pulled up and set on those rare occasions when I wanted to eat on a flat surface – generally preferring a chair leaned up next to the warmth of the stove.
They took off their wet gear — super-soaked cotton hoodies — and I went outside to give their gear a good shake and a wring before hanging it to dry on the pegs behind the stove. Having resumed their Station behind the cookstove, the dogs gave me forlorn looks each time one of them got pinged by a drop of water from the soaked hoodies. Truth: You just have to respect the look that a wronged and faithful dog can give you, so I moved the hoodies down the peg rail to a spot that did not promise future misery for the pups.
I made cocoa-for-two and managed to find a bag of wrinkly-looking marshmallows in the pantry that some long-ago camper had left with me in trade for the use of my ax. The kid didn’t mind that the marshmallows were old and seasoned. It was evident that he was simply grateful to be somewhere warm and dry.
The dad did all of the talking – giving up a string of bullshit stories from when he lived in the woods in the good state of North Caroline-y. That’s how he pronounced it: Caroline-y. He talked about the wood smoker that his Pap (Yes, he even said Pap) used to cure the venison and how they used to chop wood the same way I did.
It was midway through his yarn spinning that Caroline-y pulled a Milky Way candy bar out of his shirt pocket and started to eat it. Right there in front of the kid. The kid spoke aloud — which surprised me — as he hadn’t said a word up until then, and he asked his pap if he could have some. Caroline-y just gave him an appraising look and kept chawing away on his Milky Way while saying, “Sorry, Bud. Ate yours, Bud.”
The cabin grew a clumsy feeling – like a low-pressure Cloud of Awkward blowing through. It could have been the way I froze when I looked at Bud, who was looking mighty embarrassed for taking the chance to ask aloud. I walked over to Bud and plopped an extra handful of marshmallows into his still-steaming cocoa and said, “You’ve got to help me eat these, Bud. I’m allergic to marshmallows.”
The story really doesn’t go anywhere beyond this point, other than the rain stopping and me handing their more-dry-than-when-they-arrived hoodies back to them and pointing them back down the trail to their camp. For some reason that line of Caroline-y’s stayed with me though: Sorry, Bud. You ate yours, Bud.
In the years since, I have worked my thoughts all the way around that Sorry Bud line. I understand the concept of Real Life Tough Love and teaching young ones the value of not always being handed every darned thing that they might want or demand. Truth: the kid had eaten his own Milky Way on the trail. And just because you opt to consume your portion first, doesn’t mean that you deserve a share of someone else’s Delayed Gratification Efforts. Justice has a way of prevailing in Life when it comes to this. And it should.
But still . . .
Life does offer us a whole lot of Extenuating Circumstances as well. Take a Soaking Rain for example. Or Going Along with someone else’s Genius Plan to hike up to God-Knows-Where in a Drenching Downpour. Or not being dressed right for the weather. Or the thought that floats a little higher than Caroline-y’s brand of Sorry-Bud Justice is the one that says Why not say I love you without saying it out loud? Just hand over half of the Milky Way and everyone wins.
As you can probably tell, my feelings tip to the side of Extenuating Circumstances and saying I love you without using words. I think that there are always going to be other ways and times to teach the Real Life stuff to our loved ones. Why not extend the Magic of the Completely Unexpected . . . the warmth and the dry and the hot cocoa in a stranger’s cabin in the middle of a crazy downpour . . . just for that extra second longer and cut the damned candy bar in half and hand it over . . . all with a smile that says Ain’t life great?
I don’t know. Lest you think that I am judging here . . . I’m not. And I am. I think of that day and I hope that Bud knows that there are people in the world that will have his back, even if it’s only with past-their-prime desiccated marshmallows. Life has taught me that there’s a whole heck of a lot of grace to offer. And to be universally fair, I am hoping that Caroline-y gets his share of grace, too.
So that’s it from me, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, on the brink of Father’s Day 2016. This is the first year when I do not have the need to send a greeting card or make a phone call to my father, as he passed away this past December. I think about the years when my Father’s Day cards were late and when I didn’t call on Sunday. It makes a part of my heart droop to the sad side, and I hope that my father understands.
That’s the thing about my dad. Even now in these Days of Loss, he lets me know. There are days when I can feel him extending me the bigger half of a Milky Way candy bar that isn’t rightly mine to have, and I accept it with a hungry gratitude and a thankfulness in my heart. If there is anything I have learned this past year it is this: Life turns on a dime. And it spins on an axis that is provided by our parents who bring us into the world so we can learn about the dizzying gift of extended grace.
It feels odd and strangely marvelous to think that I have stood on the same planet all of these years past with my father, streaking through the Milky Way together . . . and I wonder. Like looking up at a cloudless sky at all of its nightly glory, it’s hard not to wonder. I stand out under the starlight and I see the faint remnants of our galaxy and I send Milky Way love to my father, a man whom I didn’t always understand yet I loved all the same. And I know he loved me.
For all of those Milky Way moments of grace and love and forgiveness that you extended to me, I thank you, Dad. From the bottom my heart and to the ends of the Universe. Truly. I wish you a Happy Father’s Day.
This song is the BEST. Please, take a moment of quiet to listen.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there.
Remember . . . life is a lively event that will spin on a dime.
Share your candy bar, drink coffee, and get to it.