Monday, 23 June 2008
By Ronni Prior of Rants By Ronni
This is Texas. A week in the country can net you a heart attack.
We lived outside of this (once) small town, in an old farm house that had been towed to its location by a mule over rollers. We had no air conditioning and cooled off with a device known as a swamp cooler. Roughly, it was a fan that sucked air in through a revolving cylinder lined with wet straw. It cooled the kitchen. The toddler and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
Still, the best thing to do in the heat of the day was to nap, so we did. I would hook both the screen doors and lie down with the toddler.
One day I woke to the sound of the screen door banging in the wind. There was a small step stool next to it and no toddler to be found. Her dog was missing, too.
The house sat in the middle of 26 acres of Johnson grass. While we kept it mowed around the house, most of it was taller than the toddler. One day, the cat had come in with what I thought at first was a worm. It turned out to be a baby rattlesnake and I never did find the nest.
There were scorpions, asps, fire ants, sinkholes, centipedes, red wasps, yellow jackets, poison ivy, bull thistles and those nasty little plants, related to tomatoes, with the purple flowers and little yellow poisonous fruit. There was also a drop-off into a creek bed where I had seen water moccasins.
I was out in a second, screaming her name. The wind blew hard and steady from the south. I could see her little barefoot prints heading down the driveway to the narrow county lane that had an S bend right in front of our house by the aforementioned creek bed. I headed that way, calling her name with increasing panic. I had never been so scared in my life.
By the time I got to the road, I could hear her voice calling me and it was coming from the south - across the road in the field. I heard her little dog barking. I crawled under the gate, which was locked to keep in the couple of dozen head of cattle in there from roaming. There she was, sitting waist deep in a stock tank with her little dog keeping the cattle at bay. She was happily splashing about. Rags was having fits. The cattle looked thirsty and unhappy.
I said, "Chandra, it's time to go home."
She said, "No."
I decided that the matter was not up for negotiation. I waded in, picked her up, and the three of us high-tailed it out of there.
We put hooks high up on the screen doors after that…
...and moved back to town as soon as possible.
[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]