Saturday, April 14, 2007

The day had started off with a comforting degree of normality.

He was thinking of leaving the pink house in the hollow. It seemed like it was time to leave this place that had been both refuge and tomb. He knew that he could never truly be himself here and that the pink house would never be a house that he could share with someone he loved. He felt embarrassed by its tatty embrace sometimes.

Asheville was close-by and seemed attractive. Knoxville was an equal distance and also seemed like a good alternative to Grassy Fork. One thing he knew with certainty was that he would never be able to bring someone "home" to the pink house in the hollow. But he was conflicted on this. He dreamed of someday restoring the house to some shade of its former self, or to something more resembling what it should perhaps be. A cozy cottage in the mountains with all the charm and and warmth of a weekend getaway.

He dreamed these dreams as he sat, hunching his big frame on the porch steps. They had broken bits of wood and ancient nails sticking up. He mindlessly hammered them down with his claw hammer. They disappeared into the rotted wood and remained loose, waiting to pop back up with the slightest jarring.

The yard was covered in a peach fuzz of green as spring was trying to emerge. He knew every inch of this yard and where each trillium and lily lay slowly awakening in the nascent landscape. He knew because he had put them there, digging them from forests that were once homesteads long ago. Each had a history and he dreamed as he planted them of them coming west to this frontier with ancestors who also loved plants.

As he took stock of his roses, he decided to move them to more permanent and sunny places. He felt he might not be here next year and it was time to find them homes. When he had a home of his own, he could come back and get them, or their cuttings to bring to the place he felt he would finally call home.

And that was really how this day came into being, innocently enough.

He made plans with some of his cousins to do some yard work for them and to move his prize rose bushes to their place. The day was sunny and warmish for early spring when he did this work at Shelly and Mitch's house. He created a new raised rose bed in full sun for his beloved roses and did some work on the roses they already had planted there.

He spent a great deal of extra time on their ancient "Mr. Lincoln". It had grown all out of proportion and the main stem was as big as a sapling with huge lethal-looking thorns. Scott pared the big bush down severely.

"Don't worry, it really needs this." He reassured Shelly. "It will come back much more showy and be much healthier for it."

Not everyone appreciated Scott's knowledge and love of roses. Once, he held a job with the landscaping department of the city. While out on his rounds, he saw a poor straggling rose bush on what he thought was city property. He stopped to give it a good hard pruning. In the midst of his work, an enraged old man came out of a nearby house.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?" He shouted.

Scott stood to his full height and cocked his head. "It needs pruning. I'm pruning it."

Turns out, the rose bush wasn't on town property. The man was furious and threatened to call a lawyer. Scott's co-workers dubbed him "the rose rapist". Scott was very upset about this. But that was a very Scott sort of thing...that he would see a rose bush and render aid to it even if it belonged to a stranger.

The Mr. Lincoln ended up being a dangerous thorny tree-like stump sticking out of the ground from its massive onion. It was ugly now, but Scott could see in his mind the large summer blooms it would produce in a few months.

After they finished up with the yardwork, Mitch's dad called and asked them to come over and help out with the calf tagging. A new crop of sweet-faced Black Angus had sprung up in the adjoining pasture. The three cousins shifted gears to go and shoo the stout little calves into a chute and give them all new little livestock earrings.

Scott had grown up with cattle so this was not a new experience to him. He and Mitch joined Mitch's daddy's hired hand, Buddy, in the enclosure while Shelly jumped up on the chute with the tagging gun. He seemed at ease within the confines of the stock pen shouting "Wooo, cow...wooop....woop...cow." He adjusted his direction without thinking, moving in a way that was loping and natural to one who was no stranger to stockyards.

And this was the start of Scott's perfectly normal Saturday. But things were about to turn strange as they so often do on the mountain. Strangeness is like the weather here. Before you know it, the sky is raining strange all around you and you have a ways to go before you can reach cover.

The strangeness arrived at Mitch and Shelly's house as they were all eating a bite of lunch and having a cold beer after the calf tagging. Buddy had come over for a visit. The strangeness arrived in the form of their mutual cousin, Peggy, who drove wildly into the yard skidding to a stop before she fell out of the driver's seat into a heap in the yard, clutching a nearly empty fifth of vodka.


  1. Manerva said...
    Don't stop now!
    Rosie said...
    I've actually got this story much further along, Manera...I meant it to be sort of short and got into it and realized it was going to need some length to ease into weirdness. It gets real ugly, but funny. I hope. I'm having a hard time with the ugly bits.
    Anonymous said...
    Don't worry Manerva, it gets stranger and oh so 'it-can-can-only-happen-to-Scott' here in the next bit- I promise I won't tell, Rosie, but I gotta laugh!!!!

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