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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Strange Start to the Day

This morning at 4:50 a.m. as I turned the corner to head up to the track, a ball of fury flew at me and was barking and growling in the most menacing and scary way. I stood stock still hoping this dog wouldn't start tearing me apart. After what seemed like a long time, but was probably less than a minute, its owner (with a flashlight and a very soft voice for the owner of such a vicious mutt) approached and called off her dog. She didn't apologize for nearly scaring the living daylights out of me, she didn't latch a leash on her charge, and she didn't answer back when I yelled, "That dog belongs on a leash".

I finished my walk up through the parking lot of the school with my heart still racing so fast I probably didn't need to run to get my cardio workout; when a little cat came darting across my path and I nearly passed out. At the track as I stretched and tried to calm the fluttering in my chest, I could hear laughter and the noise of a bunch of kids climbing the chain link fence at the other end of the track. Then I remembered it was the morning after high school graduation, historically that means "Strangeness at the Track".

Last year there was a large group of kids just sitting on the track in a big circle with loads of snack food wrappers and soda cans they apparently had indulged in a junk food orgy all night. The year before that, I arrived at the track to see a row of sleeping bags on the football field. As I jogged, there was no movement in those bags until the sprinklers came on, then five or six boys emerged and started dragging their belongings out of range of the water. They dispersed pretty quickly except for one who couldn't locate his keys. Feeling sorry for him, I took a break from running and helped him in his search. We did find the keys in the soggy grass and I went home soaking wet that morning. The year before that, there were about 25 sleeping bags lined up on the track and during my 45 minute run, no one stirred and I just ran in the outside lane and jumped over shoes and clothes laying in my path.

So this morning when I heard the sound of happy graduates, I didn't think too much about it as I started my first lap. It was pretty dark at the west end zone so those boys must not have seen me coming and they were making so much noise they certainly didn't hear me so I really gave them a shock when I rounded the corner and found five young men stripped down to their nothings preparing to race. They were so shocked to have me pass them in that state, they all fell silent. When I was a about fifty feet down the track, they all started laughing and I could hear the sounds of them climbing back over the fence. By the next lap, there wasn't a single boy (dressed or naked) in sight. I finished my laps and made my way home wondering what the rest of this strange day was going to bring.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Poor Little Lamb

I haven’t blogged one of my random childhood memories for awhile, but this afternoon as I watched a flock of sheep with many new baby lambs frolicking in a pasture near my house, I visited a vivid memory of raising sheep in Hinckley and a lambing season many years ago.

We didn’t have many sheep at any given time when I was young. Our little flock would grow and then Dad would sell off some or haul a few into Terrell’s meat packing plant in Delta.

Every spring we would have several new baby lambs born to our little flock. One year one of the ewes died giving birth to an especially large lamb. I was doing chores when I saw Stomps lying on the ground laboring hard. I sat down near her head and waited. I was there at the birth; I ran and got my mother from the house when things didn’t seem to be going well. I was the one my mother sent running for Mr. Hardy, a farmer who lived down the road, and I was the one he sent running for a list of supplies (which included Lysol cleaning solution to wash off the ewe’s uterus which was on the outside of her body covered in dirt, grass and blood). It was all very baffling and tragic for a 10-year-old who loved her wooly charges, who knew their individual personalities, and took care of their every need.

We had to bottle feed the little orphaned baby. We bought powdered milk at the IFA in Delta along with some reddish-pink rubber nipples. I will never forget the smell of that dusty milk powder mixed with warm water. We used a funnel to pour the milk into two large glass pop bottles then we’d snap on the nipples and head down to the corral. Little Cecil would slurp and slop the milk and make us laugh as he would butt and push at us trying to get the milk to flow faster. Cecil was a beautiful baby with snowy white wool, spindly legs, and shiny little hooves. He had a sweet personality and I loved being his surrogate mother watching him discover the world around him.

Somehow over the next year Cecil grew from an adorable lamb into a ram with horns. He wasn’t sweet or cute anymore. We started calling that monstrous woolly creature Cecil the Diesel. He was territorial and would chase and butt animals who came close to him—other sheep, cows, dogs, chickens and us. Twice a day we had to go into the pasture to get to one of chicken coops and refill the water troughs. We would lure him to the fence with some hay and use bailing wire to tie him up while we did our chores inside the fence in constant fear he would break free and come after us with those horns. I believe that is where the saying “you shouldn’t butt the hand who feeds you” came from.

Watching those little babies cavorting in the grass today brought back all those ‘sheepy’ memories of many years ago…isn’t it funny how you can be transported back in time by a memory?