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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Entry 189: 1988 The Crawdad Rain

We had a terrific wet spring.  It was a real soaker for our area.  On my way home from taking the kids to school I made a great discovery.  I had just turned on to Vincent Rd from Sante Fe.  I noticed the road had a lot of red spots on it.  I slowed the car and noticed the red spots were moving.  It was hundreds, if not thousands, of crawdads.  One side of the road had an open ditch that turned into an underground tunnel.  It must have been the perfect circumstance for crawdads in the underground tunnel that spring.  I don’t know if the tunnel had flooded that morning or what but there they were literally covering the road. 
Not knowing if they would still be there later in the day, I turned into mother mode.  I don’t know why but we had a big aluminum wash tub in the car.  I park, grabbed the tub, and started scooping up crawdads as fast as I could.  Within two or three minutes the tub was well over half full.  I couldn’t have lifted it to the car had I put more in it.  I was afraid any if I put the tub would be so full they could climb out. 
This was years before I had a cell phone.  I couldn’t call anyone to come see what I was seeing.  I was taking home proof.  I started the car.  The road was crawling with crawdads.    Slowly I made my way towards East Avenue.  I could hear constant crushing and popping sounds as my wheels rolled over dozens of the crawdads.                  
When I picked the kids up from school that day Charlie had a crawdad!  He was so proud!  He’d found it on the playground and kept it all day at school to bring home.  He was so excited!  When he shared it with us I acted all excited too.  When we got to the crawdad place on our drive home most of the crawdads were gone.  The road was red with dead ones.  I showed the kids and told them my story.  I didn’t mention I’d collected a huge tub of them.
I stopped the car.  The boys got out and began investigating.  Adam started searching in the pasture next to the road to see if he could find where they were coming from, Justin caught a couple and put them in the jar with Charlie's, and Charlie started poking at the squished ones trying to get them to move.  The girls also got out of the car but they just watched.  One minute laughing because it was quite a sight and the next near tears for all the squished little bodies.  Heidi and Robin got out of the car and looked but they stayed right by the car afraid to take a step for fear of stepping on one.
  There were six or seven cars parked along the road.  Men and women were filling containers with crawdads.  I know when we go camping and the kids catch crawdads they are brownish but turn orange when cooked.  These were a very pretty orange alive and quite a sight.  When we got home the kids ran to the kitchen to add their crawdads to my catch of the morning.  The kids played with, studied, and watched those silly things until bedtime. 
I learned the other people collecting the crawdads were collecting them to eat.  The next day Charlie and a friend of Heidi’s took them and put them in a pond somewhere where they should be safe.
I had never seen crawdads anywhere except up in the mountains. I was surprised to find the thousands in the country but when I thought of it later I was just as surprised Charlie had found one on the school playground! Although I watched every rainy season after that, I never saw a single crawdad again.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Entry 188: 1987 The Dream Button and the Magic Spider

          It was about this time Charlie went through a time of bad dreams.  He would wake up crying and scared.  I’d go into his room and sit with him until he could relax and go back to sleep.  This went on for several nights in a row and I began to feel the effects of not getting an uninterrupted rest.  One night while I was rubbing his tummy and soothing him with some silly story, I came up with an idea.  I told Charlie I had learned a way to change what he would dream.  I told him I had found a way to turn his dream channel as I gently poked my finger into his belly button and twisted it back and forth.
          "Let's try here," I said rubbing the left side of his belly button.  "This is the channel to help you dream about cows and this is the spot to dream of rabbits and over here is the spot to dream of dogs."  I kept rubbing his tummy and poking his belly button as I named every animal we had on our farm. “There,” I said, “Let’s try a new channel and see if the dreams are better.” 
          As luck would have it he believed me, turned over, and quickly went to sleep.  He was convinced mom had come up with a solution.  He had fewer and fewer bad dreams.  A few weeks later I heard whimpering coming from Charlie's room.  When I went to check on him I found his hand laid across his tummy with his index finger circling his belly button.  I took his hand in mine for a moment before laying it back on his bed.  He settled back into a comfortable sleep.  The next morning he told me he'd had a bad dream and couldn't think of what animal he should to dream about.
          There was nothing Charlie loved more than animals.  I went to work the next day making him an animal quilt to hang on his wall.  Every day I made two or three blocks to add to the quilt.  On the last day I included a spider on one of the blocks.  I read to Charlie from the book of instructions on making the spider.  The book said never make a spider with eight legs because it is nearly impossible to do.  Always make a spider with six legs.  When I finished reading the instructions Charlie leaned in, adjusting his glasses, and took a close look at the spider.  "Mommy, my spider has eight legs!"  Yes it does I boasted, then without missing a beat I continued to read from the instruction book, only this time, the words were not really there.  I said out loud, "If you ever make an eight legged spider and it turns out right it just might be magic."
          When the older kids came home from school that afternoon Charlie took them each to his room and showed off his animal quilt which was now hanging on the wall.  I listened from the hall as he chose his words very carefully explaining to them how the animals on the quilt were all the animals he could now choose to dream of.   He ended his quilt tour by telling them the story about the magic spider.  They each complemented Charlie on his quilt and smiled at me as they left the room.
           About two weeks later in the middle of the night I was awakened by Charlie in a panic.  “Mommy, hurry, come here I need you to change the channel.”  he was screaming.  I did and it worked!  The bad dreams stopped.
          It’s a wonderful feeling when your child believes in you so much!
         There must have really been magic in that spider.  When fair time came around I entered it and won 1st place.  Charlie was even prouder of that blue ribbon than me!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Entry 187: 1987 Our Little Valentine

          On our drive to school each morning we would pass many farms and dairies.  It happened to be Valentine’s Day.  We were passing a pasture on Vincent Road just before the Sante Fe stop sign.  The kids had seen the tallow truck many times collecting dead cows.  We had seen it a few minutes earlier at a dairy just up the street.  Adam pointed to a cow lying in the pasture close to the fence.  He pointed it out and said he thought it was dead and the “dead truck” would be coming to this dairy too.  Then the cow moved.
          I slowed the car to a stop and parked just a few yards from the cow.  She wasn’t dead or dying, she was delivering a calf.  She was positioned perfectly for us to watch.  The calf’s front hooves were already visible.  The kids all wanted to roll down the windows but we kept them rolled up as she continued to push out her baby.  They yelled and squirmed every time she moved.  We could see her legs stiffen as she strained to push then she would be so still the kids would think she had died.  When she pushed again everyone let out a scream of joy and relief.  In just a matter of minutes the little one was born. 
Momma cow immediately stood and began to lick her baby.  Heidi and Robin thought that was pretty gross but we all kept watching.  Within five minutes the little one was standing by its mom.  The kids all cheered, I cheered too.  What a great start to a morning to see this new life begin.  Cow and calf started walking slowly in the other direction and we continued our drive to school. 
The conversation stayed on the birth of that calf the entire day.  When we pulled into the parking lot the kids began gathering their valentines for their parties at school.  Adam blurted out, “Let’s call our calf Valentine because she was born on Valentines Day.”  I'm not sure why Adam said "our" calf but I didn't correct him.  The birthing event had become a very special time for all of us and the name stuck. 
We had two different driving routes to school  We took the route that went by Valentine for several months.  The kids all loved watching her grow.  She liked to run and play with other calves in the pasture.  One morning as we drove by we noticed Valentine and all the others were gone from the pasture.  We took our alternative route to school for a while. 
A few months later I drove the  pasture route again and much to our delight we saw several cows were again in the pasture.  Adam pointed out to the other kids how round the cows looked.  "There will be babies again soon!" he was excited to say.  Sure enough, within a few weeks calves began to appear beside their moms in the pasture again.     
Our kids saw kittens, puppies, rabbits, goats, calves, and pigs born on our ranch but somehow seeing Valentine born was special.  I can't decide if it was a great bonding time between me and my kids, a good excuse to be late for school, or both!