Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Great Hoary Bears!

Photo by S. T. Casebeer
Day three found us mean as snakes and hungry as week old wolves!  I awoke first, and then bundled up and peeked out through the shutters.  Despite our predicament, the breathtaking beauty of the mountains once more overcame me.  The magnificent ponderosa pines leaned and swayed precariously, each bow hanging heavy, laden with a mantel of white.  The air was still and silent, with only the occasional pop of an overburdened limb disturbing the quiet as it echoed from the canyon beyond.  The river canyon to the west held a wispy tide of slowly receding fog, and the whole scene shimmered in the radiance of early dawn.  Shaking the coffeepot to ascertain its status, I found the stove cold and the fire spent.  Donning my hat and coat, I headed for the woodshed to retrieve some kindling, and rounding the corner I heard something scurry away.  On closer examination I discovered rodent droppings on the woodpile, and the hatchet handle chewed almost clean in two!  The few remaining logs were far too large for use as kindling, and my best attempt at using the hatchet gently only succeeded in finishing the squirrels’ job!  I gave up disgusted and stomped back in the shack! Lidge woke up as I reentered the shack and even his Irish spirit was insufficient to wipe away his scowl.  He was all sulled up and mad as parliament!  “Holy cow!” I exclaimed, slapping my sides for warmth.  “It’s colder than the hubs o’ hooties out there!”  Lidge backed up to the stove for warmth and found it dead as a doornail.  “I heard some flatlander use that very phrase in town the other day.” He says, “What in tarnation is a hootie hub anyway!”  “I have no clue,” I answered, “But don’t it sound cold though!” Lidge was not impressed!  “Have you gone for kindling yet?” he asked irritably.  “You bet!” I says. “Well where the heck is it?” Lidge demanded impatiently.  “Well, it’s like this,” I says.  “Some cantankerous fairydiddle gnawed the handle out of Griz’s only hatchet.”  “A fairy what’ll?” Lidge enquired indignantly.  “A fairydiddle.” I answered.  Lidge glared at me like I was short wicked and fuelless!  “What the dickens is a fairydiddle?” he demanded.  “A fairydiddle is an exasperating little rodent with outrageous eyes, a stubby flat tail, and furry webbed wings.”  “Yeah right!” Lidge grunted skeptically.  “I’m serious.” I said defensively.  “Furry webbed wings?”  Lidge repeated.  “Yep!”  I said.  “And they fly?’ Lidge repeated disgustedly, and gave me one of them looks that says “Eat worms and die!”  “Well, not wings exactly.” I answered.  “but flaps of skin between their legs that helps ‘em to kind o’ glide through the air like a leaf on a blustery day.”  “Let me get this straight.” Lidge says. “You’re telling me that we ain’t got no fire, and no kindling to start a fire, cause we’re infested with nasty little rodents that have huge eyes, flat tails, furry wings, and that they fly through the air and eat up hand tools!”  “You bet!” I says.  “I had some in my room back at Camp house too!”  Lidge eyed me suspiciously.  “I don’t remember hearing nothin’ about fairrydiddles back home.  Were they pets?” he asked.  “Not really.” I said.  “They were mainly just pests.”  “Well why didn’t ya just get rid of ‘em?” He asked.  “Well,” I says, “they were there afore I was.  I figured that give ‘em some kind of squatters rights.” Lidge looked at me real exasperated with his head cocked over and says, “Did them critters eat up your hatchet handles back home?”  “Nope.” I answered sheepishly,  “They mainly just ate biscuits!” “Biscuits.” Lidge repeated cynically.  “Yep!” I replied.  “Well I’ve not been exposed to such an extravagant excess of excrement, since Granddad’s bull bloated & blew up! Did you give ‘em the biscuits?” he asked.  “Nope.” I answered matter-of-factly.  “Alright, I’ll bite.”  Lidge said defiantly.  “Where’d they get the biscuits?”  I knew my ol’ pard was having a mighty tough time swallerin’ this explanatory tale, but I also knew it for the Lord’s truth, so I just answered right up, “They’d just swoop down two or three at a time and swipe ‘em!”  Lidge grimaced and shook his head wincingly, “And you witnessed this yourself?” he says.  “Well,” I says, “not always.  They most always done it at night, while I was sleepin’.”  “Great hoary bears!” Lidge ejaculated in disgust, and stomped out the door! Obie's Quest

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