Monday, January 3, 2011
Pensive Pauli lives in a pile of rocks.
He hides from the squirrels; he hides from the hawks.
Pensive Pauli is a long-legged frog.
He has not a friend in the slippery bog.
Squirrels? Why, you may ask, does he hide from them?
‘Cause they throw big nuts and laugh at him.
“Grandma, is that a true story?”
“No, it’s a made up tale.”
“Made up tail? Oh, Grandma, you can’t make up a tail.” Beau sprang to his feet and wiggled his bottom as if wagging a tail.
“Oh, you are so funny Beau. Come and sit down.” She patted the sofa cushion next to her. And she adjusted her reading glasses higher on her nose. Laughing softly, she continued. “The sort of tale I’m speaking of means the same as a story, not what an animal has on his wagging end.”
“Well, Grandma, I don’t know about some words. A big lot of them seem hard to understand. Can we not talk about words right now?” Feeling very sleepy, he yawned and then asked, “Will you read me another story?” He was careful to avoid the word tale so not to have to discuss the confusing word again. “The Bigfoot story is the one I’d like, please.” Beau snuggled close to his grandma and waited for her to begin.
“Beau, you should be able to read this book on your own by now. We’ve read it so many times.”
“Maybe I can. But Grandma, I really like the way you read it.”
Beau’s grandma patted his shoulder and opened the large tatter-paged book, entitled Bigfoot Stories for Children. She cleared her throat, again adjusted her reading glasses and commenced reading.
“ ‘In the fields behind the weather-blackened backside of farmer Joe’s ancient falling-down barn, something mighty strange was going on.
“ ‘ It was a place the barnyard animals would not even go. Even brave Frank, the big guard dog, would not set a paw. Oh, he’d set himself firm at the south corner and bark and bark. He worked hard at his job of guarding.
“ ‘While he yapped and barked, that is if he kept it up long enough, old farmer Joe would come and gaze across the wide field behind the barn. With hand shading his eyes, he would for long periods of time stand there with Frank at his knees, puzzling out why the dog was barking. But never once did he see a thing to be concerned about.
“ ‘When his old eyes finally became teary from straining into the distance, he would turn them on his hard-working dog. And often he would simply pat Frank’s head and say kindly, “Good boy, Frank.”
“ ‘Actually, farmer Joe was convinced that his faithful old dog was losing his eyesight. It saddened him that dogs couldn’t simply get eye glasses as humans do when their eyes grow dim with age.
“ ‘Farmer Joe lived all alone. He and Frank had a very special understanding. They took care of each other. Both were old and had known one another for many, many years. They knew each other’s quirky ways.
“ ‘In the very old two-story farmhouse, Frank had his own room, all to himself. The tiny room was just above the living room and at the top of the stairs.
“ ‘In the cold winter the dog stayed toasty warm, for the pot-bellied stove’s fragrant heated air rose, filling Frank’s room.
“ ‘In summer, all the windows were opened, cooling the house. The big farmhouse was shaded by huge cottonwoods that scraped at all the upstairs screens in summertime. ‘ “
“Oh, Beau, you’ve fallen asleep,” whispered Grandma Davis. She gently touched her grandson’s apple-red cheek and took from his hand the little red car that was about to drop from his lax fingers.
By now, Beau was deep into a dream, when he felt the little car brush across the tips of his fingers. He thought it was falling, so he closed his hand. It closed on air.
In his dream the little car raced on. Then as it brushed his fingertips it fell, tumbling and rolling─down, down.
Now in his dream, Beau stood on the shoulder of a narrow road, peering down into a deep river-cut canyon. Off in the distance, he could just barely see the little car with its nose buried in a blackberry thicket.
Frank, farmer Joe’s dog, barked in loud volleys at the south corner of the car. Its engine was still running. Frank burned his nose as he sniffed too closely at the spinning tires. Not many feet beyond the red car, a wide river threw white froth into the air as it rushed apace on its way to the sea.
Well, nothing for it, thought Beau, I’ll have to go down to the car and see what all the barking is about.
Along the trail, overhanging blackberry vines caught on his shirt, pulling threads and stinging when digging into the soft flesh of his bare arms.
The times he did glimpse the little red car, over and through the tangled brush at the sides of the trail, its wheels seemed to have stopped spinning. But he could still hear the engine running and Frank still loudly barking.
He could hear the river now, and thought he could feel its spray on his face. The narrow trail continued on to his right, but it was Beau’s wish to go straight ahead and down. So, straight down he leaped, just clearing a crumbling ant-infested log and smacked into ankle-deep sand.
Where Beau landed, Frank waited for him with his whole body wagging in happy greeting. The friendly old hound seemed to know him. Beau patted his head and said, “Good boy, Frank.”
Almost to the car now, Beau abruptly stopped. He could still hear its engine running. Frank ran ahead in long lopes, showing his sharp teeth and growling between barks.
Beau’s knees were locked rigid. He stood frozen to the spot where he’d stopped. Something was moving and shaking the blackberry bushes near the little red car.
Whatever could it be?
“Frank, come back here! Frank!” The dog non-stop barked and growled. Some sort of loud gibberish was coming from the riverside of the car. Still, Beau couldn’t make himself move. He seemed to be stuck fast in the sand. He concentrated really hard on willing his feet to move, first one and then the other. They simply would not do as he wished. He was stranded. He tried to yell at Frank to come back. Now his voice would not leave his mouth. He was mute! He couldn’t say a word.
And he was afraid. Before he knew it, he was floating up, up. But this was with great effort, for he was flapping his arms really hard. The second he stopped flapping, he drifted back down to earth and to the deep, warm sand.
Frank ran frantically between the car and where Beau hovered a few feet above the sand. Finally, the breeze let up and it became easier to stay aloft. He now hovered over the red car, but just a little over it.
Something was scrambling around inside the little car. He could see it, an animal, through the cracked front windshield. Whatever kind the animal, its eyes were huge and it was covered in fur. Beau flapped his tired arms harder, wishing to move away from the car. He was certain he was going to be eaten by a bear. He kept aloft, but he was not moving away very fast. And still he had no voice.
The animal in the car was moving the steering wheel. It seemed to be pretending it was driving. It snuffled and banged its knuckles on the windshield when a paw lost its grip and flew off the wheel.
Oh, my! Beau was certain he was going to cry. Maybe he was crying. Had he lost his hearing as well? No, ‘cause he could still hear the animal snuffling in the car. Now the engine cut off. He could hear Frank barking, so he could still hear. Oh, but his arms were getting heavier and heavier. He’d have to land soon. But he needed to get away from the little red car and the animal in it.
Flap, flap. Oh he was tired! The thing was now squeezing out the driver’s side window. The door must have been wedged into the sand and wouldn’t open. Whatever could it be? It wasn’t a bear. A Bigfoot, it’s a Bigfoot!
... to be continued next Monday.