2012-10-24 / Editorial

Don Lively

UP HERE

I’m sitting out on my deck, high above the ground, well, maybe three feet, kicked back and relaxed without a real care in the world. I’m contemplating why I’m so content in my surroundings these days here in my little corner of the Blessed South.

I found my answer in the question.

I’m content because I’m sitting out on my deck, kicked back and relaxed without a real care on the world.

The world looks pretty doggone good from up here.

I built it myself, this place where I spend so much of my R and R. Every timber, every treated pine board, every bag of cement and a few million 3 inch Polymer coated star deck screws. I hauled in dozens of river stones that I borrowed out of the Colorado River to ring the firepit.

I’m not normally a handy man with tools but when I found myself suddenly without vocation last year I needed a project that would keep my mind occupied enough to prevent me from seeking God’s vengeance on the company that unceremoniously laid me off.

I’ve been back among the employed for a while but I still take time to sit on the deck and let my mind wander.

Most of the time Loose-E joins me. She’s the only one of the Stray Girls Gone Wild left, the other two now awaiting her, and me, at Rainbow Ridge. She’s still as lazy as ever. She does occasionally go after a squirrel when she sees me coming up the driveway. She wants me to believe she spends her day creating a squirrel free zone.

The evidence tells a different tale.

From my deck I can look in any direction, first light to twilight, and spot any number of the fuzzy tailed tree critters playing, sunning or eating. They don’t appear to be even remotely concerned about my courageous mutt actually catching one of them. If I ever decide to eat squirrel again I’d have to procure it myself.

Uncle Y.T. lived not far from where my deck sits. He taught me the best way to skin a squirrel. Cut the hide starting at the underbelly, all the way around the carcass. Then carefully pull the two sections away from each other. I stress carefully cause pulling too hard creates a holy mess with unholy innards flying everywhere. Don’t do that.

The thing is, I don’t like squirrel meat. You always hear that it tastes like chicken but to me it tastes like squirrel meat and, besides, you need a dozen to make a decent meal.

Like I said, my mind drifts up here on the deck.

Right over there I can see the sawdust pile. Well, I can’t really see it but in the fertile imaginings of my past it’s very near where the deck now sits. If memory serves correctly it was about a half mile high and covered fifty acres at least. It’s where I killed the biggest rattlesnake I’ve ever seen back when diamondbacks around these parts were as big as anacondas. It’s also where Cousin David got hit in the family jewels with a cannonball, okay, it was a rock, during one of our spirited games of Johnny Reb versus Billy Yank.

I built the deck away from the house in the edge of the woods, surrounded on three sides by pines, oaks and sweetgums. Before houses were sprinkled over the tract and before the railroad split it down the middle, the area was where I spent much of my youth stalking deer, quail, rabbits and, yes, squirrels. All those still live here. But since I was a kid exploring these forests two other species have become much more plentiful.

From my deck I can watch the Canadian geese circling over the wooded enclave on their way to the old irrigation pond across the road. They throw up quite a racket as they come in for their ungraceful landing. On a clear night their touch down sounds like the Titanic striking blue ice.

When I sit out on the deck during the late evening I hear coyotes keening off to the south. To some it might be a little disconcerting knowing there’s a pack of wild animals lurking about but to me it’s an added attraction.

I welcome any creature that loves howling at the moon as much as I do.

Soon it will be cool enough to have fires in the firepit every weekend.

Wienie roasts with no skeeters and no gnats.

The best time of the year.

And the best place to enjoy it.

Here on the deck.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of Howlin’At The Dixie Moon. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com and visit his website, www.DonLively.com.

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