Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Deerly Beloved

Spike learned to grow gorgeous garden roses from the legendary Coach Charlie Rugg. When Spike was in college playing basketball for Coach, digging rose beds was de rigueur. In those days young hot shots like Spike (who forever held the record for career free-throw percentage at Belhaven University) willingly took on whatever challenge/task Coach dished up. Spike's love for basketball and roses grew under Coach Rugg's tutelage.

We live in a heavily wooded neighborhood surrounded by woods and open fields with ponds. The fence line at the back of our yard is overgrown and fraught with adventure for young boys. As we were enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon Benj piped up with this. "Hey Grammy, how 'bout we go cut down a tree?" Capital idea.
Before you call the Save the Trees Foundation, notice that we chose a tree that had already met its Maker. And remember, Spike is in the lumber business. He sells cut-down-trees. It's not uncommon to drive by a stately, towering cypress tree and hear Spike say, "There's some beautiful lumber." Looks like Benj has a good 2x2x6 in the making. And maybe a career.
We put Benj's hard work to good use and built a Lincoln log-style mini fort.
Perfect for lunch meetings.

The day we bought our house there were cows in the backyard, interlopers from the pasture behind the barbed wire fence. Within a few months the cows had been sold and Spike had the makings of a beautiful park-like yard. Recently he had a new rose bed put in the front yard, filled with beautiful, fragrant varieties along with some knockouts. He grows them, I cut them.
Except along came the interlopers. The first night after the bed was planted.
While walking the dog the next morning I noticed there was not a bloom to be seen or a fragrance to be sniffed. I was sniffing, all right.
Not to mention all of the leaves and buds that had been nipped in the bud.
It was Bambi. And his friends. And his family. And his school mates. The same crew that ate about 50 of my bright green beautiful little tomatoes a few years ago. Ate the whole crop in one night. And now they're on to the roses. Aargh. These are not the only interlopers we've gotten used to. Spike buys gourmet cat food for his black cat Jezebel, cat food that is enjoyed by every possum and raccoon for miles around. They all have luxurious coats and shiny teeth thanks to Spike's generosity.
One morning Spike called me to warn, "Darlin', now don't panic."
So of course, I maintained my cool, my go-with-the-flow demeanor and tried to keep my blood pressure from shooting sky-high until I heard him say, "There's a large snake in the storage room in the garage, coiled on the second shelf on the left. Call our neighbor (Mississippi's preeminent nature and wildlife photographer). He'll come get him." So I did. And gave a huge sigh of relief as photographer neighbor walked up with a five gallon bucket and a snake hook. He marched right in there, hooked that awful creature, slid him in the bucket and started walking back down the driveway. "Hey! Where are you taking that snake? Aren't you going to kill it?!!"  "Good grief, no," he replied. "I'm taking him down to my yard to let him go." Great, I thought. Let him go so he can slither back up to my house for a get-together with the deer. Party time at the Windhams! Yesterday morning I counted at least 11 or 12 deer in the yard at photographer's house. There could have been more, but in the early morning light it was hard to tell where one interloper deer started and where one stopped.

Aren't they something. Get a free breakfast of rose petals, leaves and buds at my house and then stroll down the street for a free family portrait in photographer's back yard. Deerly beloved, we are gathered together today....

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