Friday, December 14, 2012

And The Truth Shall Set You Free

Horse Whisper - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics

I stood on a log and jumped on the horse's back, without any saddle, bridle or seat belt of any fashion to hold me on.  What happened next didn't go quite exactly as planned.   I'll save that little truth for the end.

His mother was a beautiful bay quarter horse with warm chocolate eyes and his sire was non other that Dakotas Poco King, who was a champion Paint stallion that fathered most all of the horses that free ranged in the hollow.   Not long after Ace was born he and I made a connection.  He was just a young foal living freely  alongside his Mom, grazing and swatting flies with his tiny tail the first time I was able to get close enough to touch him.   I used his curiosity of my dog Daisy to lure him a few steps away from his Mom.   Each time I would raise my hand outward to stroke his beautiful coat he would retreat back to the safety of his Mother's love and within her kicking distance.   We played the "come close, go back to Momma" game many times that warm spring afternoon.  It finally dawned on me that I was probably the first human creature he has ever seen and how strange I must look.   All the other animals that his young mind has processed have all been on four legs.    The deer, the horse herd, the coyotes at night, and even my little dog.   So I decided to get down on my knees and hands and do a little foraging.   Lucky for me it was the perfect time of year to nibble on some wild chickweed and winter cress.

The bait worked.   The next thing I knew his warm wet nose was sniffing my hair.  I tilted my head just enough so that we were nostril to nostril and I slightly blew back.   I gave Daisy the hand gesture that I had trained her with for "stay".  She looked back and had that look in her eye as if she was saying "Are you crazy?"  Ace sniffed her from tail to head and moved back to me.   The three of us grazed and hung out together for a couple hours that afternoon and from that day on Ace and I had a brotherhood.

Me with "Bam-da-Lamb"  imprinting 

There were many young foals that followed Ace over the years and I became close with almost all of them.   Larry, who was the farmer that owned, trained and sold these Paint horses had land that joined us, which turned out to be a dream come true.  There was no such thing as a fence separating our properties so his horses felt like ours.  We loved sitting on the porch and watching the painted hillside slowly move their way across, mowing and fertilizing all at the same time.   I often thought of buying little Ace just because he was my first but then I would have that internal battle of  "Horses are a business, don't get attached."  and of course "why buy one, you have your pick of over fifteen to ride at any time for free."

As the herd grew, I became more and more involved.  I created the website for Larry's farm where we sold many of his horses online.  I lent a hand imprinting the foals and began helping train the two year olds.  The training that Larry used was a combination of  "old school - horse breaking" and the newer method of "join up" where a horse is not forced to accept a saddle.   Larry was learning the horse whisper approach from a friend of his named Sam and one day the two of us drove over to see him work with a young colt.   That afternoon changed my relationship with horses for ever.   I vowed to never use force, fear or intimidation to communicate to a horse.  I would learn to whisper.

As it turned out Sam needed a website for his farm too, so I bartered website work for natural horsemanship training.  It wasn't long until Larry and I had our first crop of two year old colts all taking a saddle and excepting a rider without the use of a rope or whip and without even the first buck or kick.  Ace was among that freshman class of horses and my heart sank a bit the day Larry and I took pictures of him along with the others to go on the website.  I reassured myself that he probably would't sell since he wasn't covered in the beautiful paint markings that most buyers are looking for.  One by one his horse-mates sold and the day we had an email inquiry for Ace, Mr. Larry and I sat down and had a little talk.   He cut the price in half and the next thing I knew, we were in the horse business.  

As my knowledge of natural horsemanship grew so did my relationship with Ace.   I could stand on the ground in front of him and with my eyes alone make him turn left or right.  I could use just the tip of my finger against his skin to make him step sideways.   I loved ridding on his back without a saddle and with just the movement of my thighs make him turn, stop or move backwards.   He and I rode countless miles and most of the time I would use a saddle and a non-intrusive bridle.  It was more for my added safety then force, but there were many days when I would use just use a halter or bailing twine around his neck and would slip on his back in the barnyard and we would walk together.

So this brings me back to the day when I'm standing on a log.   It was a warm summer afternoon and I was building the barn that I was making for Ace and the others that we would eventually raise and train.  I stood on the last rung of a ladder nailing up a final board and looked out towards the little field that was next to our farmhouse and saw Ace along with ten other members of his family.  I decided it was time for a quick break and walked down to say hello.   I gave my best interpretation of a horse win-nee and Ace immediately stopped grazing and looked up.  He had heard my "horse hello" his whole life and knew it was me.   I hopped the fence into the field and was greeted with ten warm noses.  I rubbed and spread the love the best I could and when the others figured out that I come without treats they all returned to their foraging and left Ace and I to ourselves.  It was such a beautiful day and it would have been perfect for an afternoon trail ride, but my saddle and gear were all down the road at Larry's.   "Who needs a saddle or bridle?" I rationalized to myself.  "Ace and I are connected and I'm a horse whisperer."   I used my thumb and nudged Ace over to a log where I slowly mounted on to his back.   I leaned over and inhaled that sweet smell of his mane while giving him a gentle squeeze with my legs.  He slowly moves forward.  I apply a little pressure with my left thigh and butt cheek and he moves off the pressure and to the right.  I do the same to the left.   "Let's see if the breaks are working."  I leaned back and moved both of my legs forward, and on a dime we came to a stop.  I leaned forward, took in another sniff and a rub on his neck.  "We truly are one."  I whispered in his ear.  We weaved in and out of the other horses, made figure eights, practiced stopping and moving backwards and then there was a communication among the herd that wasn't shared with me.  Someone decided it was time for a water break and took off at a trot through the field towards Larry's and the pond.  One by one the other horses lifted their head and followed along.  Number nine took off in full gallop, not wanting to be last one to the water hole and that left Ace alone with me on his back with nothing but a pair of butt cheeks holding me in place.   Before I could raise my leg and slip off his side, he bolts and I grabbed his mane.   I bounced like was I was on a ride at the fair and when he made a quick jump to the left to avoid a wild rose bush I became a human torpedo.  By instinct I used my wrists to brace for the impact and came crashing into the earth, rose bush, and a heaping pile of pride.  

During the three months that I wore the casts on my wrists I stuck to the story that I told Sharon about how I fell off the ladder in the barn.  Actually I told the story so much that I believed it too.  Only Ace knew the truth.  I finally came clean to Sharon some six years later and now on days when the weather is about to change, or when its real cold outside my wrists will remind me that I was once a horse whisperer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Winter's Solace

Song of the Sun - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics

It's 4:30 in the morning and I tiptoe out of bed, slowly easing the bedroom door closed behind me.   I've been awake and lying in the warmth of the quilts and Sharon's body heat since a little after 3:30 and finally decided to embrace the early morning, stoke the fire in the living room and start a pot of coffee.   It's going to take a little while to get back into my winter solace and the rhythm of waking before the sun,  being in the quiet, listening to God, reading a book and beginning my day with something bigger than ME in mind.

December is a bitter-sweet month.   The bitter comes because it is the end of our bed and breakfast season.  Guests with smiling faces no longer wind their way down our drive, the vegetable garden and flowers of summer have long gone, the oranges and reds of the beautiful fall foliage that adorned the hollow just three weeks ago lay brown, cracked and broken like carcasses scattered across the forest floor.   We have been weaned from fifteen hours of glorious sunshine everyday down to less than ten and have been given fourteen hours of darkness in it's place.

I find that the sweetness comes in wisps and slow dribbles through the winter months.   We still have lots to do.  It's not like we can just be like a black bear and hibernate until spring.  There is plenty of work, maintenance and repairs, we still answer phones and emails for next years reservations, make changes and updates to our website and other's I support, cut fire wood, stack fire wood, split fire wood, volunteer in our community, visit with family and friends.  Sharon still works three days a week in an office about thirty minutes away. There's always a new building or garden project too... the wonderful list goes on and the wheel keeps moving about the same speed,  it's just now we can let a few thing slide a little.   We don't have to keep our home as immaculate as we like to have it during the B&B season.  We can leave some things on the counter, old boots by the front door, dust from the fireplace can settle on the mantel and we can root and borrow into our winter nest.

At first I'm resentful of the longer darkness and the sunshine that we've been robbed of, but eventually my body adjusts and I remember how special this time really is.   For me winter becomes the time for healing, for re-alignment, and for reflection.  It's in the darkness of early morning when this magic happens.

In addition to just waking up, sipping a cup of Community coffee,  and reading one of the books that I promised I would read all year, I also love to wake up, sit by the fire and just be still.  I'm a bit rusty at it now and today I have to keep retraining my mind to come back to the present and not think about what I need to do today.   "Breath in slowly and exhale through your nose." I silently remind myself.   Five nice breaths later and I'm beginning to feel that familiar sense of grounding and try to continue.  Then out of the blue I hear that voice in my head say "so do you think you'll have a little mulberry jelly on some of Sharon's home made bread later or just butter....."  WHAT?!!!   "Breath in slowly and exhale through your nose." I nudge myself again.    Ten minutes later and at least five more valiant tries, I decide that the other voice I was hearing was actually God saying that I was a bit hungry and needed some bread to soak up the pot of coffee that I had finished. 

I spread the jelly across the toast, sat down to write a little and reminded myself that the gift of words, art, and music comes directly from my creator.  A book that I recently finished called The War of Art, encouraged me to give back to my source what comes through me in words or music .  What ever our talent is, it comes from someplace higher and not within.   A few moments later I pick up my guitar, say a quick prayer of thanks and ask to let the music I play be a reflection of what is on God's mind.   I softly practiced a few songs and was just about to slip the guitar back into it's stand, when something happened. 

Instead of the standard tuning for a guitar, today I had the guitar strings set to an open tuning, which is something new for me.  I've played around with it some and have managed to make only three chords that to me sounded good together.   For some reason my chord hand slid all the way up the neck of Sharon's Mom's 1966 Gibson guitar and landed on two strings in two new positions I've never been to before.  I strum......."Wow I love that chord."   Two fingers slide down a few frets and press two other strings.  "Unbelivable- I love it!  So now where God?"   Another slide and press and then another and something was truly happening.  

When music begins its birth within me it typically starts with the instrument, followed by a melody that will form in my head and later words.  When I experiment with the melody I always just ramble and make up words and gibberish.  Once I like the melody and have it ingrained enough, I move on to the real words.   Today the gibberish that came out about knocked me off my seat.   I immediately went and grabbed the Ipad and began recording and the song I am sharing today is what my higher power wanted to sing.    


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ole' Wise Goat

Fine - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics

Sharon and I on a summer float down the Caney
"This is the Caney Fork River, this is the river they dammed to make our lake." I heard Mom say to her sister Ruth as we were making our way back to our Cabin on Center Hill Lake after picking her up at the airport .   My little sister gave me that "here we go again" look and rolled her eyes.

"Oh really?" Aunt Ru says while looking out the window of our 1964 Chevy van at the river we had just crossed over.

Mom continues, "Yes, but of course it is much smaller down here because we are below the dam."

"Wow!" Ru says without much expression in her voice.

My sister whispered to me, "Do you think she's forgotten about last year when Pop did it?"

The year before Aunt Ru was visiting with us for the Christmas holiday and on our way from the airport we crossed the Caney Fork river five times, as always.   At each bridge Pop would share his little nugget of information about how the Caney Fork is the river that is dammed to make Center Hill lake, which was our back yard.   Within a ten mile stretch of I-40 each time we crossed the river he would repeat the exact same thing and to our youthful surprise, so would Aunt Ru.   On the last bridge we all died laughing as she realized the broken record that she and Pop had been playing.  

Well sure enough, a year later and Mom got her too.  At least on two of the bridges before she caught on.   It became a tradition from then on, with Aunt Ru as well as anytime we crossed that river together and alone.  Even now some thirty three years later my mind still repeats it and makes me smile each time I cross that beautiful river.

As a man at 46, it amazes me how that one body of water has been a compass point along my path for so long.   It has been pulling me here my whole life.   I remember the many trips as a kid that we would take from the Cabin into Nashville and I would stare out the window and somehow seem to loose myself in the rolling hills of Smith County.   As we wound our way off the Cumberland Plateau and crossed the first bridge over the Caney, I always looked up river and focused on the old steel railroad bridge which magically seemed to spark my daydreams.     My eyes would gloss over and slowly I emerged myself into the world of hollows and mountain pastures and hillside farms.  By the third bridge I knew to look off to the right side at the little farmhouse that was set in the perfect valley and I saw myself there working the land.  That was me on the tractor mowing the field.   On the last bridge I would look back to the right, down at the rapids and  imagine floating the river and what it would feel like to let the current take me.  I became Tom Sawyer and stood on my boat made of  tied together logs and would float all the way to where the Caney reaches the Cumberland River and where the Cumberland joins the Mississippi all the way out to sea.

Sometimes my daydream would end abruptly when my sister would yell out "Mountain Goat!".  They lived along the bluffs and were very mysterious to us.   Sometimes I wondered if they only appeared to my sister and I.   We would drive on past with both our noses stuck to the window looking up at the old gray goat with narley looking horns.  He would glance down at us with his wise eyes as if he was granting us passage through his kingdom.

After leaving home, making my first college attempt and settling into an apartment in Nashville, the Caney Fork River and the Smith County line became a finish line of sorts.  Perhaps more like a beginning line.   Each time I would leave the crazy world of trying to make it in Nashville and head back to the cabin to visit with Mom something would change inside as soon as the first hill rose out from the ground of the Nashville basin.  By the time I crossed the first Caney bridge my breath changed and the windows went down. A sense of peace eased through my mind and each time I looked out and saw that old familiar railroad bridge, I would return to that place inside that said to keep dreaming.  

I was on my way to play a music gig in middle Tennessee and had my guitar,  keyboards and all my equipment in the back of my gray 1976 Honda Civic. It was my first car and I had just taken the last pennies out of my checking account to have the oil changed before my 200 mile journey.   Right when I rolled over that first hill on I-40 that lets you know that the Cumberland foothills are around the corner my oil light came on.  "That's strange.  I just had it filled.  I guess it's just something else not working right in this old beat up hatchback."  I affirm myself and drive on.   I start noticing that I was loosing power and then the most god-awful sound ever came from the engine.   Metal on metal.  I pulled over and opened the hood,  checked the oil and it was dry as a bone.  In complete despair I pushed the car further off the road and leaned up against the road sign that says "Welcome to Smith County" and started praying.

Someone stopped and pushed me and my car on the side of the interstate for ten miles up to the Gordonsville exit and into a gas station parking lot.   I did get a lift back to Nashville with all my stuff, though my car lived at that exit for over three years.

I bet that ole' wise mountain goat was probably sitting up on a cliff nearby looking down at me saying "What else do I have to do to make you realize that this is where you should be?"  

Today the river is my play ground.  Nestled in the beautiful foothills of Smith County is my home.   The water I drink comes from the river.   There's no better day than a warm summer afternoon floating in a Canoe with my wife Sharon.   Our freezer is full with Rainbow trout that swam in the Caney.  I've made countless wonderful memories taking family and friends fishing on this river and my favorite spot and fishing hole..... just so happens to be right below that old steel railroad bridge.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And Cue The Antlers

One Way Or the Other - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics
It was still pitch black and only the beam of our head lamps flickered through the woods as we crept slowly up the mountain side.   The incline was far better than a strong cup of coffee to get the blood flowing.  I stopped so the couple joining me could catch their breath and we all inhaled the crisp 28 degree morning air.

"Oh, it's going to be a good day!" I heard Wayne whisper to his wife Gina.

It's the first morning of deer season and a few moments later I had gotten our B&B guests settled into a cozy thicket where they'll almost certainly see some activity as soon as the sun rises.

A few times a year we share the hollow with guests that are outdoor enthusiasts and that we have gotten to know and love over the years.  We create all inclusive weekends filled with plenty of time in the woods and delicious meals cooked in our cast iron pots on the wood stove.   It's a fun metamorphosis to see the hollow convert  from romantic B&B weekends with white dresses and wedding cakes to camouflage and hunting stands.   I am not a sport hunter and really consider myself more of a "harvester" of sorts.   All the guests we invite have similar values and are hunting for food and not for the kill.  To me it is more about the time in the woods.  Time to be still, quiet and listen.

After we each whispered good luck, I slowly moved on through the forest working my way towards a trail that leads to the top of our highest hilltop.  My eyes were adjusted enough to the dark that I flipped off my head lamp and began my assent up to my view from 1200 ft above sea level.   The crunch of the autumn leaves and my heart beat were the only sounds I could hear.  I finally reached the top and made a little nest at the base of an Oak tree and positioned myself facing east so I could watch the sunrise.   The echo of my footsteps drifted away in the morning breeze.  The camouflage I was wearing blended the shape of my body to the trunk of the trees.  The only imprint my existence was making at this moment was the exchange the oak tree and I were sharing with oxygen and carbon dioxide.  With each blink the sky became lighter and the shadows of the giants around me took shape into a canopy of trees.   As the horizon caught fire, a breeze clipped along the mountain top as if it were coming directly from the rising sun.  My body temperature had long cooled from the hike up and I was longing to see that beautiful ball of red hot fire poke her head out and warm my face.   One inhale, exhale and a slow blink later and there she was.  

"Lights, camera, action", I thought to myself as me and the woods along with all the beautiful creatures in it, slowly rolled on this earth of ours towards the sun.  

Once the sun had cleared the horizon the life around me awoke too.   Birds of every feather were singing.  Squirrels and chipmunks began scurrying along the forest floor looking for seeds.  It was like I wasn't even there and got to be that fly on the wall to witness the magnificence of morning.   I turned my head in the other direction and noticed a little spike buck deer standing less than 100 ft away.  He was content eating acorns and popping his head up every now and then to see if he was still alone.   I was close enough that I could hear the morsels of the nuts slipping out from his lips and hitting the ground.   He slowly walked on past me and faded into the woods and the morning sunrise.  And just as if Nature wanted to end this beautiful morning production with a slow curtain fall and applause, the wind picked back up and hit the tops of the golden Maple trees scattered around me.   The yellow and orange leaves one by one detached from their summer home and began their flight to the earth.   Even though the ground was already covered with inches of fallen leaves, on this morning I felt so privileged to be the eyes that got to soak in the many different dances of a drifting Maple leaf.

We all met back at the bed and breakfast later in the day where Sharon had prepared a scrumptious meal for all the Hunter-Gatherers that came home empty-handed    That afternoon we all slipped back into the woods to hunt until sunset and as I took my place on a little knoll covered with Osage and Popular trees, Nature decided it was time for Act II.... though this time she decided that the show should be a comedy.

This time things begin the same.  My footsteps fade, squirrels pop out to stock pile a few goodies; I blend in with the forest and get mesmerized by it's beauty and a few hours pass by.  Off to my right in the distance I hear the rustling of leaves and first think, "Man, I should have brought my squirrel gun."  I turn and face in that direction, still leaning up against a Poplar tree, and I can tell that this was more than a couple of squirrels playing.  I remembered the fresh scrapes and rubs that I had scouted out a few weeks earlier nearby and instantly visualized a large poppa buck chasing his doe through the woods towards me.  My heart starts to beat a little harder in anticipation of what is coming steadily in my direction.   A few seconds later a large Pileated Woodpecker circled directly above my head and then landed in a dead Ash tree about 50 ft away.

 "Oh, this is a good sign."  I whisper to myself and my smile turns into a confident smirk.

The stampede of leaves and movement is oh so close now.   I raise my gun in the direction it is coming hoping to get a view through my scope,  and just then I hear a crunch directly behind me.  And then another crunch.  "I've got a deer standing a few feet from my ass. Should I turn around?"  I decide that based on the sound of the crunch vs the massive combustion coming in the other direction that I wouldn't turn and would hold for the monster about to emerge.   My heart almost popped out of my camo jacket when a squirrel came out of the side of a hollowed out locust stump about five feet from my head and sat their looking straight at me.  

"This is good sign." I again affirm myself.  

Another crunch closer behind me and then in front of me I can see a shape moving quickly behind some brush about 200 ft away.

" yourself Mr. Buck...."   And he did!

Well, he wasn't actually a buck.... or a deer for that matter. I was swindled by a cunning flock of wild turkeys.  My smirk quickly turned into a scowl of determination as I remembered the other deer that was still standing on the back side of me.   Inch by inch I lowered my gun.  I slowly began to turn my head, hoping that I wouldn't spook the mystery deer standing so close.... and then she comes into view.  "A *&)UCKING SQUIRREL!   Really?!!!"

And just then as if the director in the side wings cued them all, the Pileated Woodpecker began cackling his song over and over that sounds just like an old man laughing and the squirrel that was sitting on the stump started barking and the one that made me think she was a deer, jumps onto a rock and joins in on the chorus of nature's laughter.

I gather my wits.  Laugh at myself and how God has such a great sense of humor and watch the sun begin to set.   And for an encore.... my eyes quickly focuses on a movement coming from a thicket of cedar trees.  I raise my scope and can see one side of what was most definitely a ten point antler.

 "Oh my!"   It looked like he was  rubbing his antlers in the cedar tree. "Come on,  just step out so I can see all of you". He rubbed the cedar tree again and my heart began its ramp up, but quickly stops when yet another squirrel hops off the limb that looked like an antler and proceeded to start the familiar bark of laughter at me again as if to say, "We got you again sucker."

Well,  it was time to quit. I had really enjoyed the game nature had played with me this evening.  The sun was just a shadow and I was about to make my walk back around to our guests on the other side of the hollow and did the number one "hunter mistake".  I had to pee and did it right where I was standing.  Deer have such an amazing sense of smell and anything that has a hint of human scent will almost always keep them far away.  Lucky me.... just as I zipped and looked up.... Señor Poppa Buck stepped into my sight.  Look who's laughing now Squirrels!  :-)  


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Deux Dix

Deux Saumon - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics
It's going to be a great day.  My chores are done, business has been taken care of and in an hour I'm going to meet Mom at the lake for an afternoon of fishing.  There's something about a pole, blue water, and the motion of casting a line that seems to fade away all the things that felt important yesterday.   I do love the taste of fish, especially rainbow trout, crappie, rock bass and  ... oh yes... Salmon.   But it's not for the dinner or the smell of a smoker cooking up a fresh catch that keeps me doing it.   It's the feeling of standing in a river.  It's the contentment of letting my eyes fix lazily on a fishing line and the anticipation of what might be swimming near by.   It's the current pushing against my legs. It's the red tailed hawk roosting on a limb watching me fish and hoping that I'll clean my full stringer of fish on the shore. It's the morning fog rising up to meet the sun and slowly revealing the beautiful painting that I'm lucky enough to be a part of.

Spending most of my youth with Center Hill lake as my back yard, my love for water and fishing began there.  I've spent countless days sitting on the shore, watching a bobber, day dreaming and sometimes bringing home supper.  It wasn't until I took a trip up to Quebec Canada many years later that I experienced my first fly rod and river fishing.   My plane landed in Montreal and my Dad picked me up there and we began the nine hour pilgrimage following the Saint Lawrence River out to the Gaspe peninsula.    Each mile we drove the "Frencher" it got.  Stop signs now said Arrêt and "Hello" became "Bonjour".   As the river slowly widened and eventually turned into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the towns dotting the sea coastline became smaller and further apart.   We eventually arrived in Saint Anne Des Mont, which felt to me like I was arriving on the set of the TV show Northern Exposure.

The next day I was rigged up with waders and a fly rod and we set out to meet our guides to take us down the Saint Anne River.   Our guides spoke mostly all French and my Dad could translate and speak a little, but we mostly used hand gestures, smiles and laughter to communicate.    We floated in a long wooden Indian canoe that held all four of us, with our guides standing up in the boat using hickory poles to pry, push and navigate us down the river.   We'd stop in sections that had deep pools, where the Salmon would stop and rest from their journey swimming upstream.   It amazed me how these salt water fish knew to leave the sea and return to the river they were born in to lay their eggs.   The guides did their best at trying to teach me how to cast with the fly rod.   They would say "Duex.... Dix"  Deux... Dix".   Dad would translate "2 10  2 10".   Frustrated and laughing they would get behind me and pull my arm and pole back and say "Deux"  and then move it forward "Dix".  Finally it sunk in,  Oh... 2:00 and 10:00 .  My arm should come back no further than 2:00 and I should let the line slip through my fingers at 10:00.   It was coming together and now all we needed was a salmon (or Saumon in French) to nibble on one of our flies.  Just when I thought I had it down and looked like a pro fisherman,  suddenly I heard "Arrêt ARRET ARRET!!!!"   I turn around and realized that I had caught one of our guides.   So the first day was mostly spent getting my Duex Dix down and untangling my line from the guides hat.   The salmon are truly respected and honored by the people here.  Fishing can only be done with guides, which helps keep them protected and catching them is something not everyone gets to experience.  They are peculiar in that the entire time they are in fresh water they are fasting. So teasing and tempting them with a worm or a fly is pretty much in vain.   I guess it's just luck if we happen to fish in an area where they are swimming through, but also it requires even more luck to cast out just the right fly, have it float across the water in just the right angle to hopefully bother the salmon just enough so that they decide to swim up and grab it with the plan to spit it out under water.   Well, my luck isn't that good,  though I went to sleep that night with the sounds of the river in the background and dreams of landing a 20 pound Salmon floating through my mind.

The next day there was a dense fog on the river.   The water felt really cold coming from the Chic Choc mountains and even though the waders kept me dry,  my teeth were chattering as I did my first Duex - Dix.   I watched the fly drift across the current and I could make out through the fog that my Dad was about to make his first cast too.   Like a bolt of lightning my line zipped through my fingers and on the other end was a salmon.   The guides came alive and began the hilarious game of charades trying their best to tell me how to bring in my catch.   I couldn't just reel him in like I typically do a bluegill.  This was at least a 25 pound fish and I had a 2 lb. leader on my pole.   Any pressure would snap the line.    The idea was to keep the line tight, but allow him to swim as much as he wants.  Let him tire himself out.  Whenever he swam in my direction I would reel in a little.   I moved up and down the river keeping the line tight and trying to slowly bring him closer.   When I saw him for the first time he was less than ten feet away and was breathtaking to see.  He didn't feel the same though and quickly decided to swim some more.   Ten feet of line turned back to more like fifty and the game continued.   I'm not sure how much time past, but it felt like a good hour or more and my legs and arms were shaking when we finally pulled him in.  I was in such a state of shock that I think I began speaking fluent French.

We caught two salmon that day, which was quite rare.   By the time we made it back into town to celebrate with a couple Molson brews, somehow the word had already spread around and we quickly became royalty.   Though fishing is simple in nature sometimes you experience a day that isn't like any other.   The song I'm sharing this week was written about my time in Saint Anne Des Mont.  There is a section of the song where I sing in a high falsetto and that's the red tailed hawk that seemed to join us everywhere we went on this trip.

I just got back from fishing with Mom and we too caught Deux fish, though ours wasn't big enough to pan fry yet.   We returned them to the lake, added another worm on the hook and allowed a conversation to flow as we cast our lines into possibilities.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Snake Bite

Over a Canyon - written by Davy Rasmussen and Sharon Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics

He blended in with the weeds so well that I couldn't see him at first.  My eyes finally adjusted and I slowly brought into focus the end of his black tail, which was creeping through the tall, purple, Joe Pie and Golden Rod that always blooms this time of September.  I stood still, trying my best to blend with nature and allow my eyes to continue to search for the rest of,  what looked like a black snake.

 I've always had a fondness for this family of snakes.   They've be touted as one of God's version of Orkin pest control.  They diet on mice, moles and rats and make a great addition to any home or farm.  I've also heard the tale that they are also very territorial and will keep away any poisonous snakes too.   Wow...who wouldn't want to have a couple of these around?  

When I was growing up we found one snuggled among our linens in the bathroom, and this wasn't just any little snake.  He was every bit of six feet long.   My Pop slipped on some leather gloves and politely walked a half mile away and set him free into the woods.   A week later Mr. Snake was back in our cabin, though this time he surprised us from beneath the kitchen cabinet.   A little research in the B-C section of our Encyclopedia Britannica library and a conversation over corn bread with Mr. Toy and Ms. Odell,  our farming neighbors,  and the next thing you know our big, black snake was given a name.  Sambo lived with us in our cabin for many years and for the most part would just keep to himself, stay hidden and feast on the rodents that also tried to move in.   Every now and then he would show up to surprise us and cause a few quick screams, a sudden stop of the heart, but then you would hear the proud yell,  " I found Sam!!".

As I was recalling my memory of Sambo,  my eyes finally focused in on the head of the black snake.  It looked like he was raised in a defensive position or ready to attack something.   It couldn't have been me that alarmed him, there was something else.    The flowers and weeds were so dense that I couldn't make out anything in front of him and then suddenly another tail came into focus.  It had green and yellow markings and   was slowly moving in the direction of Sammy Jr.   I witnessed something that I've never seen before.   Suddenly Sammy's entire three foot body lurched through the weeds and landed directly at the mouth of the other snake.  He didn't hesitate more than a second to begin the attack.  I was witnessing that moment of live or die and how I wished I had my camera with me to capture it.

Sammy Jr and the Cobra (OK, he's really just a garden snake) were locked with their mouths unhinged around each other's body.  They were both about the same size and kept twisting and trying to use the muscles in their tails to knock the other one loose.   Sammy loosened his grip and let his head fall to the ground and I thought it was over, when in fact he was just waiting for the better position.   He went for the head and gripped right behind his jaws.  His fangs held tight and the only thing the garden snake could do was open his mouth grasping for life.   The show lasted another five minutes, though was complete with an encore performance that I wasn't expecting.   Sammy opened wide and inch by inch, ate his prey.   "You've got the job Sammy" I said as I walked away.    

A few springs ago we had a family of Phoebe birds that built a nest on our back porch.  We loved watching them hatch and grow from one little feather on their bald bodies to four young birds ready to fly.  I remember the day they flew and how honored I felt to see that live or die moment.   There was something inside telling them that they could fly, even though they never did before.  There was something telling them that there was more to their life then the nest that they had grown to love.   And there was something telling them to jump and flap their wings as hard as they could.   All four made their first flight successfully with Mom and Dad sitting close by on the mulberry tree telling them that they could.    

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm Grounded

Everything - written by Davy Rasmussen and Lisa McHenry Stricklin
Song Lyrics

I didn't sleep well last night.  Maybe it was the full moon that brought to life all the thoughts, plans and worries that didn't want to sleep in my mind.  I woke up around 2:30 AM and began my traditional bed dance of moving from one side to the other.  Laid on my stomach,  flipped around to my back, counted sheep, thought peaceful thoughts, went to my secret place and an hour later I was still fidgeting and decided that it must mean that I need to go the bathroom.  I got up and tip toed to the jon and a few minutes later I slipped back into the covers.  "Oh they feel so good on this cool September night" I thought to myself as I sandwich in between the sheets and blanket.  "NOW... I'm really going to sleep."

Fifteen minutes later the dance begins again.   I think the last time I looked at the clock was 5:15 and wouldn't you know that sometime shortly after that was when I finally fell into that deep sleep that I needed.

The 6:30 AM alarm jolted be back from my cozy dream land and here's a little snippet of how the rest of the day follows, though I'll mention now that what happened at 7:30 PM was what grounded me.

6:30 - Wake, jump in the shower, take a cup of coffee to go
7:00 - Chamber of Commerce meeting  -  I am volunteering on the tourism committee
9:00 - Grocery shopping for the bed and breakfast
10:30 - Meeting with a local business about a new website
12:00 - Back home in time for a quick sandwich
12:30 - Mowing and weed eating around the hollow
4:15 - Repaired a broken bench
4:30 - Pressure washing the siding and cleaning porches and windows of the B&B
7:30 - Took Daisy (our dog), and a five gallon bucket with water,  on a ride on the fourwheeler to cut some of the September wildflowers that are in bloom so Sharon could use them in an arrangement and wedding bouquet.   I was quite pooped and ready for the day to end but flowers was the mission.  Sadly I wasn't really soaking in the beautiful surroundings as I was moving along through the forest.  Suddenly I saw a mass of feathers fly directly in front of me.  I came to a quick stop and almost threw Daisy off to the ground.   We sat there and watched the large Barred Owl decide whether I was a threat or not.  He peered with his deep brown eyes and finally blinked in acknowledgement that I was OK to be in his hunting ground.  I sat there for almost thirty minutes watching him hunt for supper.  I screeched out my best owl translation and he looked back and cocked his head side ways as if to say "You crazy human... you can't speak Owl."  

That thirty minutes of rest and observation re-connected me to My Everything.  Nature has always been one of the wells that I have to dip my bucket into to find center.   When I take a cool, slow sip of the earth and all the critters and beings that scurry around, it humbles me, slows me down and reminds me that I am just a spoke in the wheel.    That reprieve seemed to bring life back into my sails and open the shades on all my windows.  Driving back I watched a Doe and her fawn raise their white tails as they jumped over a wild rose thicket.  Countless songbirds flew in my path as if they were leading me back to the farmhouse.  I picked up a turtle and rubbed his belly and moved him out of the way and when I pulled in and turned the fourwheeler off,  I was greeted by an orchestra of coyotes singing in the distance.
"Ahh... now I'm connected."

8:00 - Cooked supper with Sharon.   We had okra fresh from the garden,  wild rice and shrimp scampi.
8:30 - Dinner and wine
9:30 - Reply to B&B emails
10:00 - zzzzzz  - Now I'm REALLY going to sleep good tonight!

The song that I'm sharing this week was written many years ago by me and my first real high school sweetheart.   I think we wrote it after being a part on our first summer break without each other.  It's quite simple, though the message of someone, something or some place being your everything, seems to transcend time and relationships.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Graveyard - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics

I received a letter from a friend that has been in and out of my life for many years.  We have one of those relationships that had a few bumpy roads in the beginning, back in my early childhood.   Some of those bumps caused us to part, actually for quite some time.   Somehow the trails seem to always bring us back together.   Even though many years pass in between these crossings, each time we find ourselves in each other's life, my friend always feels like it is necessary to bring up the bumps.   It's like he's caught in the past and has to relive it each time we come together.   The truth is.... I've completely forgotten the details of those days and even if I could recall them perfectly, I know they are from the perspective of my mind in that early age of live and really aren't even relevant at all today.  Of course the letter quickly goes from the pleasantries of  "Hello,  how are you,"  into "So, I was thinking about what happened between us and I just don't think you understand......"

 "How sad,"  I thought to myself.  "He's still there, living in yesterday."  I crumbled the letter and tossed it into the trash and took a deep breath of today.

The next morning, I pulled into the driveway of a house, that from the outside looks like it is in the present day.  "Please excuse the mess," she muttered under her breath,  as I entered her home to see the bed frame that she had listed on craigslist.   "OH MY GOD!!!"  I thought to myself as I walked down the literal path that led from the front door through her living room to the "guest room".   She stopped half way and must have felt my gawking eyes trying to soak in the aftermath of what looked like a tornado that had hit her livingroom.  "It ain't as bad as it looks," she said humbly.  "It's actually an organized mess.  Ya see my Ma lived with us for several years and when she passed I just couldn't bring myself to throw anythang away."  In her slow southern drawl she continued explaining.  " I'm slowing goin' through it though."

 "I'm so sorry for your loss,"  I said.  "How long ago did she pass?"

 "It's been almost ten years now, but wait to you see the room where the bed is."

I tripped over a box and started to feel my claustrophobia kick in when we reached the door knob to the room.

"I call this...," she paused and then stretched her wrinkled lips wide into a grin.  "My Memry Room!"  The door slowly opened and from floor to ceiling on all four walls are old pictures, shelves filled with dolls, little chotskis and knickknacks,  posters and memorabilia from the days when her mother was alive.  The floor space was filled too with every kind of furniture imaginable.  The only space for us to stand was actually in the doorway and even that was a bit cramped with her two dogs and cat sniffing and rubbing my legs.   She pointed to the bed, which had a mound of stuffed animals and pillows scattered across it. "The bed wasn't really Ma's," she explained.   "So it ain't 'portant to me anymore.  My daughter's grown and gone and I wanna make her room all about the memry of Ma."  

There was no physical way that the bed would make it out of the room, much less through the "un"living room without the help of the National Guard, so I politely said that it was beautiful but didn't think it would work for us.

She patted my arm and said "Well that's ok darlin'."  Leaning over, she picked up a photograph. "This here is Ma when she and Daddy met at the pallet factry in Lavergene...."

A few hours later I drove away feeling so sad for this lady who had a daughter still alive, but chose to stay living within the bones of the past.

Later that night, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I  let my mind travel down some of my own back roads and found myself looking at me about to graduate high school.  I could see the cap and gown and the proud expectations all across the faces of  my family and friends.   I was going to be somebody one day.  Little did I know that for many years I was going to struggle, be considered a failure and that I would never bring light to those dreams and early wishes.   I rolled over to see my sleeping, beautiful bride and smiled.  Wow!  I'm so thankful that I didn't stay living in that graveyard of lost dreams.

 I wake this morning to a glorious sunrise and vow to keep my mind facing East.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Love Stains

White Ring - written by Davy and Sharon Rasmussen
Song Lyrics

So I'm standing naked in the checkout line at home depot.   I can feel the eyes of everyone staring at me too.   It doesn't help matters that it's midsummer and most of my body is tan from the sun, except for one obvious section of skin.  There it is, poking out there for the world to see... My left hand.   So I'm really not naked, I just feel that way without my wedding band on.  Last night Sharon put both of our wedding rings in a cleaning solution and guess who drove off without his on?  I give the cashier my credit card and it feels so strange not seeing the ring I have worn for twenty two years.  All everyone can see is the white skin from where it use to be, like a little love stain.

This song is about that day when a marriage is over and you are left with that white ring reminding you of what went wrong.  The song is a bit sad and depressing, but I liked the hook so much that we wrote another version of the song that takes place about six months later and from a completely different perspective.   I'll get that one on here in a few weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Smell of Summer Hay

Back to the Farm - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics
Even after I hit the brakes I can feel the tractor slide a little downhill. The bush-hog rotary mower spinning behind me just seems to help push me along. There is an extra heart beat or two that thumps through my sweaty shirt, but eventually the tires grip the earth and bring me and my Kubota to a stop. As I turn around to mow back up the hill, I inhale that wonderful smell of summer hay and can see me and Mr. Larry here some sixteen years ago when Sharon and I began our adventure here in the country.
Larry in the black hat, me in the red shirt 
Mr. Larry had an old Ford tractor that became one of my first class rooms. Our 85 acres joined his family farm and during the thirty years or so that our place was abandoned, his cattle and horses free ranged our hillsides. There was no such thing as fences. When we moved in we continued to let his livestock use our ponds and stay cool in the woods and in return, I got to ride as many horses as my butt could handle, got to use his tractor, became a cowboy and friends with one of the best men and teachers I have had the privilege of knowing. At first anytime I needed something done with the tractor he would just come up and do it for me, which was OK by me, because I knew that I would take so much longer to get something done. One day I was driving by and he waved me in with his two finger wave that meant "stop if you can". Just the pointer finger meant "hello", but the pointer and middle together always meant "would like to talk for a while if you can spare the time". He had some round hay bales that needed to be moved and though he could have done the job in twenty minutes himself with his eyes closed, he asked for my help so he could work with a young colt. He stayed close enough to talk me through the hydraulics and anytime I seemed to struggle getting a round bale on both the front forks as well as the back spear. I think I was actually his entertainment for the evening. Two hours later the hay was moved. By the end of our first summer here I was using his blue ford to grade our gravel road, move dirt and stack brush. We have about twenty acres that need to be mowed at least once a year and since the majority of our property is hillside, I never felt comfortable taking his tractor much past the bottoms where our farmhouse is. He respected my uneasiness and he and one of his sons would knock it out in about three hours or so.

 One day after his son left for college, he told me that he wouldn't have time to mow due to his other farm obligations, but said that if Ole Blue was down at the barn, I would be welcome to hook up the mower and take a stab at it. Well my first attempt ended quite quickly. I was driving up the gravel road from his place to ours, like I've done many times before. Unfortunately I got distracted by a deer running across the road and didn't turn the wheel in time and the next thing I knew I had one side of Ole Blue's front and rear tires in a four foot ditch. I struggled for an hour trying to get it out, but only made it worse. I eventually walked back with my head hung low and he pulled me out with one of his other tractors. Mr. Larry never let me forget that one. My second attempt a few weeks later was more successful and after eight hours, I had the hollow all cut. Well, almost all of it. My legs were so sore the next day from using the breaks and hitting the clutch to stop from running into trees and rock. There was one section though that I chickened out on. Mr. Larry laughed when I told him how the tractor started to slide and that I thought I saw my life pass before my eyes. The next day he was back up there and finished it up, though he saved the last two vertical strips for me. The school house door was back open and he taught me about how to work with gravity, how to use the bucket to help stop, how to lock one side of the brakes at a time, and when to turn the rotary mower off in the worst case. From that day on,  I was a country boy and have never looked back.

 I just finished washing off all the wild seeds and brush from the Kubota. The sun is casting that wonderful 7:30 PM golden glow on our barn. I can hear the crickets and the frogs beginning their evening serenade. I walk back towards the farmhouse and if I could jump to the side and click the heels of my boots together I surely would.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Watch for Falling Rock

Empty Spaces - written by Davy Rasmussen

 The sunset is amazing tonight.  I've got a faithful dog sitting beside my rocking chair on the porch,  Blossom (the cat) is kneading my shirt, trying to make a nest.  I look over and see the other empty chair and it's like someone suddenly unplugged the beautiful setting sun.  There's an emptiness here today.   It's a hole that I can't seem to put anything in.   Who took my pallet of paint that had every color imaginable and replaced it with only earth tones?  There's a void inside me and I know what it is, so I'll throw in my "man card" here.   I miss her....   The beautiful lady that I have gotten the privilege of spending the last 23 years with,  is away on a trip to see her father, who is in the hospital.   We've been apart many times in our marriage, but when you are as close as we are,  I think you can't help but feel a little chill in the space that distance brings.  

Now please don't think I'm walking around all blubbery and one of those guys that can't make it without having someone in his life at all times.  I actually do enjoy being alone.   I like the solitude and quietness of it and honestly it allows me to be a little lazy.   Not sit on the couch, eat fritos, let the crumbs fall over the  floor kind of lazy,  just being able to vibrate at a little lower frequency.  Does that make sense?    She'll be back home soon, so even though the sunset isn't as radiant as it usually is when we are together,  I do know that the void I'm feeling will once again be filled with her smile.

The older we grow I think our soul becomes scattered with pockets of voids and empty spaces mostly from the people and loved ones that have traveled in and out of our lives.   When I blow through the cobwebs and allow myself to enter this space, I can see these dark corners that sunlight rarely finds.   They say that time heals everything, but I wonder if it really does.  Perhaps all that changes is that we subconsciously protect ourselves by putting up trail signs in our memory pathway so that we detour around these haunting hollows.  We install curtains and guard rails in our memory so that our emotions are protected and we can function and have a sort of normalcy to our life.

There are certain unplanned triggers though that will cause the curtain to rise or the trail marker to point the wrong direction.  Out of the blue you find yourself standing in the middle of the void, helpless and with a large lump in your throat that in an instant can release the dam of feelings, tears and memories that have been quietly tucked away.    It's been almost seven years since my Pop passed away, and for the most part now I smile when I think of him and our times together, but I know there is a corner where I had to stuff and cram some tears and feelings just so I could move on.   One ordinary day, I go and see my younger brother perform in his high school band, and I think how I wish Pop could be here to see him.  I feel a little sad, yet proud and happy that I am here and that some of Pop's musical genes have magically passed on to his young son.  And then like a head on collision, I'm fighting the lump, I'm square center in the void, I'm vulnerable to my emotions, with a waterfall of tears ready to tumble down and all because I heard the sound of my brother playing a marimba.    Pop was an excellent mallet player, taught at a university, played marimba, xylophone and vibes in countless bands and symphonies.  He even tried to teach me, which was quite the task.  I think something was genetically passed on to my brother, but for me it was always a struggle.   I remember trying to learn the "flight of the bumble bee" and after months of lessons and practicing, I gave up and declared that I wanted to be a guitar player instead.  Unfortunately, that was the last music lesson I had with Pop.  Little did I know many years later I would be sitting in an auditorium watching his young creation wear out the mallets and how could I have known that this one event, and that one, distinct, musical sound would break the dam.   Time for some new trail signs "Warning Cliff Ahead",  "Falling Rock"  "Detour"  "Stay the He(*&ll Out!".   It's all good now though.  I love to watch and hear my brother play.  He is amazing and talented and I'm so blessed to have him in my life.  

I have fallen off similar ledges unexpectedly with other voids too.  After the crash I just install more ropes, make a few new signs and travel on.  Though maybe somewhere in these unexpected breakdowns is the place where we find a little healing.

I just got off the phone with Sharon and she's on her way home a few days early.  Lucky me,  we'll get to watch the sunset together tomorrow night.  Oh crap!!!  Time to find the vacuum cleaner and suck out all those fritos from the cracks in the couch.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Island

A New Day - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics
I've taken the little pill they prescribed so I should be relaxed now.   I lay my head back in the dentist chair and listen to the footsteps patter behind me as I try to focus on the light classical music being pumped into the sterile white room.   The assistant comes in and slips on my face a pair of sunglasses that looks like something Elton John would have worn in the 70's, she covers my hair with a piece of plastic that resembles something between what a  food worker would wear and a shower cap.   To top off my morning attire, I am draped with a polka dot cloth from head to toe.   I'm singing to myself... "I'm sexy and I know it".    The nurse swabs my mouth from top to bottom with some numbing cream, hooks me up to a heart, oxygen and blood pressure monitor and says "the Doc will be in here soon".  

A few minutes later I hear "hey man, glad you made it.   Are you ready to do some work on those gums of yours".   There were a few things I needed to talk with him about before we got started.  I opened my mouth and all that came out was "blaa blaallsl shahsa;ljas  aoooooaalo"   He and the nurse laughed.  "Looks like the numbing cream is working.  Let's get some novocain in you and then we'll follow that up with a little sedative IV drip, so open wide.  Say AHH"   I felt the first prick of the needle in my mouth, but didn't feel any of the 12 others.  I felt the IV go in and then the Doc looked over at the assistant and said, "this music has got to go. "  He looked down at me and said " How about a little classic Rock?"   By this time the only thing that I could make my body do was to pull my hand out from under the gown and give a big thumbs up.   "Right on" he says and then I drift away to Led Zeppelin singing "Whole Lotta Love".   I hear him say "Open wide for me" and I would try to come back to the room and be semi conscious every time he would say something like that, but for the most part I just closed my eyes and took a wonderful journey during my operation.

 I wish I could remember everywhere my mind traveled.   I dipped in and out of so many thoughts and dunked my head into countless pools of possibilities.  It became overwhelming at times and sometimes it felt like I was lost and running in circles in a dark forest of my past and future things and then something suddenly would lift me up above the trees and a gush of peace would blast me in the face.  From this vantage point I could see that everything was in order and all I needed to do was to calm myself, relax and just continue moving in the flow.  

Somehow during the journey I landed on a little island where all I could hear was my breath coming in and going out.  It was so soothing.  Just the rhythm of my air and the steady beat of my heart.  I smiled knowing that these two simple sounds are the core to my existence.   I laid there for what seemed to be days and finally I stood and said to myself  "This is where I must start from.  I must be the change.  It's a new day".     I walked into the water and as it encircled my neck, my feet began to float and I started to swim.  "Open your mouth a little wider for me David"  I heard in the distance, but I kept swimming.  One inhale, one exhale, one stroke, one kick at a time.   Nothing but me, the ripples of water flanking off my body and the words "it's a new day" going over and over in my mind and finally my toes touch sand.   I felt my body being lifted up and as my eyes slowly opened I could see the doctor smiling.  " Everything looks great.  I'll see you back in about a week....".  I tried to interrupt him and tell him about my "out of body adventure" and all I could get out was "blaa blaallsl shahsa;ljas  aoooooaalo"  He and the nurse get a good chuckle and he walks out of the room saying " don't worry, that will wear off soon."  He steps back in a few moments later " Oh, you may have some pain for a few days while you recover so I'll write you up a little prescription."   I smile and think to myself  " HEL-LO Island.... I'll be back soon".

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I'm Turning Around - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics
"Hello everyone (long pause)... my name is ...("crap, what is my name", she thinks to herself) oh yea, "My name is Molly (longer pause) and I'm an addict."   "Hello Molly" the group answers back.  "Tell us what brought you here today".   She squirms a little, takes a deep breath, lets out a sigh and begins.

"I've always loved it.  From some of the earliest times I can remember it was a part of my life.   When I was younger it was just the thing to do.  We all did it.  My brother and I started together actually.  It was that thing we couldn't resist and when one of us didn't have any, the other would somehow find some and share.  It was mostly just a release and for pure pleasure at the beginning, though I remember that day when they separated us from our mother and how we used it then just to make the pain go away.  I'm not sure when it became out of control, but slowly it started to happen more and more in my life.   When they split my brother and I apart,  I began using it as a crutch and a way to hide.  The next foster home I was in was extremely strict and had too many damn rules.   They didn't understand me.  They didn't know the shit I've been through and yet they judged me and forbid me for partaking of my only vice.    The day the new foster kid arrived and became the golden child, I had my first over dose, which promptly led me to my next foster home.

I've bounced around from home to home and some where meaningful, good people and some were trash.  I'd clean my act a little and try to get my emotions tucked away and then the littlest thing would trigger an itch.  I would miss my brother, I could see us playing as kids,  I wondered where my real mother was, and slowly these haunts would lead me back down that dark road of addiction.   I would start again with a little nip and tell myself  "it's ok, you've got this under control.... a little every now and then... no one will know".    But eventually they do and eventually I find myself out of control,  back in the system and heading for another strangers home.

The last home I was in I got pregnant by one of the other fosters living there.  Believe me, love didn't have anything to do with it.  It was just sex and it came with a price, a huge price.   My foster parents were kind enough to let me stay through my pregnancy but soon after,  I think the novelty of me and my crying baby was all they could take.   One day we were all going for what seemed to be a nice country drive and the next thing I know, I am being dropped off at yet another home.

I remember looking down at my little creation that day and thinking to myself that I've got to do it right this time.  I have something to live for.  I have something completely dependent on me.   When I met my new parents I could tell there was something different about them.   There was something different about the entire place and home.  I had never seen so many flowers, never smelt such good, clean air.  It was quiet.  There were birds flying everywhere and I thought I would loose myself  when I saw what seemed to be an endless path leading into an endless forest.  Maybe this was heaven.

My first week or so I was on the top.  I was confident in myself.  The foster parents were so easy to communicate with and there seemed to be a bond growing between us.  The thoughts of my addiction hadn't even entered my mind since I arrived.  They had a couple other foster children living there too, though actually they got adopted by them early on.  It took awhile for them to trust me and open up, but eventually the three of us seemed to be getting along too.    Everything was going perfectly until that one day when everyone left and I was there alone.   I knew they had some there.  They didn't hide it.  No one seemed to have a problem or an addiction, it was just a social thing.  But there I was, left with my own voices and my own demon.  I couldn't help myself and finally I just had to take a nip.  Once I did, I instantly stopped and that was all I did.   Several more days went by and everything was cool and I thought maybe that was all I needed.  I think what happened though,  was that I awoke my sleeping monster.

Slowly I started hearing the voices.  Every time I would walk by it, my skin would get flushed and I would feel my heart beat a little faster.  "Take Me" "Indulge" "You Deserve It" "It will make you feel so good", kept getting louder and louder and finally I caved.  That night they were all asleep and I crept out to just have a little.  That first nip was so good, but this time I had to have more.  The voices were cheering me on.  I could see my brother in my mind and together we were going to party.  I grabbed that cushion off the porch chair with my teeth and started yanking it back and forth like there was no tomorrow.  I could see my bro on the other end giving it hell right back to me.  Oh this felt so good.  And just when I began to feel that wonderful drunk feeling something even more scrumptious occurs.  Like a burst of chicken bones breaking in my jaws, this sealed green cushion gives birth to an explosion of white, fluffy, beautiful stuff.   Eu-ph-or-ia!!!!  And I thought just tugging on them was a buzz.  OH... now the party is really going to begin.  

Needless to say I overdosed in a BIG way that evening. "  (Long pause)   "Well, today I'm turning around.  I'm going to live my life over.   I've been sober now for 3 days, but I know I can only do this one day at a time.  Thank you for listening.   Oh... my name isn't Molly, that was what they called me three homes ago.  I think these folks are calling me Tulip, or Turnip, or something gardeny like that.  Humans, they are so funny.  "  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Essential Element

Try a Little Love - written by Davy Rasmussen and Michael Santana
Song Lyrics

She cuddles up close to her baby girls as they shiver in the night.  "It's going to be OK", she says to herself.   "I've made it this far. I can't give up now".  It was pitch black in the trunk of the car where she and her two babies where thrown like a bag of old trash.  She can tell from the sound that the tires were making that they were no longer on paved road.   She hit her head on the top of the car as it bounced in and out of a pot hole.  One of the baby girls started to cry and she pulled her in closer.  "Please stop crying.  I know you are hungry.  I promise, we'll eat soon".  The car comes to a stop and the sound of a door slamming sounds like the crack of thunder.  Footsteps quickly come to the trunk, it pops open and then she feels that familiar cold, harsh hand upon her neck and she is ripped from the car and thrown to the ground.  A few seconds later her two crying girls are pitched next to her as she lays still.  She knows to be submissive and not to rise up or say a word.  She lays frozen, hugging the ground,  praying that she and her babies would be spared.   Another crack of thunder, the sounds of tires on gravel, and slowly the red lights of the car and her past drive away.  

She waits until she can only hear the sound of crickets in the night woods and stands up and looks around.  Nothing is familiar except the stars she can see in the sky.  The road only goes two ways, back in the direction the red car lights went, or the other way, and so she begins to walk.
As the sun starts filtering through the trees she sees a little house, snuggled among flowers and decides to rest here, maybe find water or just a quiet, safe spot to sit and love her girls.   That morning, the lady who lived in the little house came outside with a fresh cup of coffee to listen to the birds and say good morning to God and all his wonderful little creatures.    She hears the sound of a cry coming from the side of the porch and walks over to investigate.  There in front of her was a tattered mother and two little girls in need of the most important essential element of life - LOVE.   They hold a gaze into each other's eyes for a long moment.  Words are not spoken, but between their eyes an exchange of trust is given.   The lady slowly reaches down and picks up both the girls and wraps them in her arms.  They still shake from being cold but instantly feel the warmth of her embrace and the love in her touch.  A tear forms in the mothers eyes.  " I am finally safe."

A few days later the lady had the mother and both the baby girls in the tub giving them all a bath.   "I could get use to this" the Mom thinks to herself.  The girls splash each other as the fleas fall off into the soapy water.   "I wish you three could stay here with us forever.  I would love to watch your girls grow up. If my house was just a little bigger.... If my old cat would come out from hiding, I know she would love your girls too...." , the lady rambles on to the Mom as she is drying her off with a towel.   The Mom looks back with understanding eyes.

    The lady promises to keep her and the girls safe, warm and fed as long as it takes to find the place where they can truly call home.  Later that day Mom and the lady sit together beneath the shade of the Mulberry tree and watch the girls play tug of war with an old sock.   The Mom leans over and gives the lady a gentle lick on the hand and says with her eyes,  "All we really have is today and today is good.  Today I am loved by you and my girls are happy. Thank you so much!".  She puts her head on the lady's lap, closes her chocolate brown eyes and finally rests - peacefully.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Winter of Summer

Spring - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics

I'm on my way home after doing a few errands in town and as I pull off the interstate, I can see billows of smoke rising into the blue sky in the direction of our small community. "No one would be burning purposely", I thought to myself. The county had issued a ban a week or so before on all outside burning due to the extreme drought we are having this summer. I pass our one truck, volunteer fire department and see it gone and my heart skips a beat. I wind my way a little further along our country roads and that distinct smell creeps into the car as I watch the smoke get closer and closer. By the time I reach our mile long driveway, it becomes quite clear where this fire is burning.

A few weeks earlier I was outside by our garden doing a rain dance. What is it with the weather this year? We have been breaking temperature records every other day and it's been well over a month since any of our flowers or veggies have tasted a raindrop, other than from my water hose. The grass has turned from green to winter brown.  And it's not just us and our tiny existence that seems to be affected by this unbalance. Everything around us is too. The birds are no longer singing. It's too hot and dry for the cocoons of all the butterflies to make it through metamorphosis. The wildlife that we normally see every day have just disappeared. In their place we are being plagued with an unusual number of flying insects, and the stinging type too.  The creeks are dry.  One of our ponds is now completely gone and all you can see are the countless foot prints of deer, raccoon and coyote scavenging for a morsel of water in the mud.

The unbalance seems to be rubbing off on us humans too. Sharon says I've been a bit moody lately.  It does seem like I've been getting frustrated more easily and over the stupidest stuff too.  It's not just me. Just about everyone we run into is seems depressed or is a bit "Debby downer" and complains about something.   The drought and summer heat appears to have dried us all up and has turned all of us into kindling for a wild fire.

My heart lifts a little when I reach my house and see it still standing, but then jumps back into overdrive when I see a firetruck and countless pickups all parked around our barn.   I jump out and sprint to the men all gathered around the firetruck and recognize a few neighbors who work as volunteers in the fire department.   I learn that a fire has broken out on the backside of our hollow and had already burned forty or more acres and was working its way up to the top of our ridge.  They weren't equipped to fight a forest fire and with only 750 gallons of water in their truck, they were there to hopefully stop the fire from taking our home.   The adrenaline-switch kicks in and I hop on the four wheeler and start up the trail, climbing from our valley elevation of 740 feet above sea level up to our ridge top of 1140. Right when I was about to leave I am joined by a couple neighbors who also drove up to see where the smoke was coming from.   Once we reached the top, the smell of burning trees and leaves was so strong, but because the forest was so dense we couldn't see a fire line anywhere. This gave me a temporary relief in knowing that it hadn't made it over the top yet.    In the one area where the smoke appeared to be the strongest, we started walking through the smoke down the other side of the nearly 100% vertical hillside.  I couldn't see fire anywhere, but could smell it everywhere.   Then I hear my Latino neighbor Eric yell " O-ly cheett, O-LY  CHEET  over  here".  I scurry and slide to where he is and see the wall of bright orange climbing the hill towards us.  We get a little closer and the heat and smoke push us back.  Another neighbor yells "there's more over here".   My heart is pounding and sweat is dripping from every pore and the 102 degree day was not making it any easier.   We try to pull the leaves and dried limbs that are uphill from the fire away to make an earth barrier, but as the sparks and embers rise and fall, they were sparking more flames than we could put out.   It becomes obvious that we weren't going to be able to fight this forest fire from the hillside and that the only hope was to return to the ridgetop and declare war here, where it was at least semi level ground.   

I head back to give the volunteer firemen a status on the fire and they give me some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that forest service was at the base of the fire on the other side and working their way around the fire with a dozer and a two person ground crew and the bad news was that the volunteers may have to pull out because there were two other fires burning in the county.  I crank up the tractor with the box blade attachment, more neighbors come to help and thoughtfully brought water to keep us hydrated.  I down a bottle on my way back up the ridge and instantly I feel stronger.   I scraped the entire ridge creating a six foot wide earth barrier while neighbors removed dead limbs.  This would hopefully stop the fire or at least slow it down so we could put it out on foot.   We could hear the bulldozer working his way around the fire, but couldn't see him yet.  One of the blazes was about 150 feet from reaching the top and at this point all we could do was sit, catch our breath, hydrate and wait for it.   Finally we see the yellow of fire service dozer push through the flames, knock down a burning tree and come in front of the fire.   A sigh of relief passes between us.   I climb down to the two forest service fire fighters and tell them about the other blazes we've seen along the ridge and one of them radios to the dozer operator.   I'm drenched in sweat, dirt and ash and felt a little bad saying "damn it's hot and humid today" as I noticed that they were wearing full firefighting gear and had to be 100 times hotter than me.  "Ya know, if it wasn't as humid as it is today,  this fire would have burned a lot faster and probably gotten past us."  They told me.  "It's about 90% contained now and as soon as the  bulldozer finishes the sweep along the ridge, everything should be safe in your hollow, though you may want to come back up here several times through the night to check on things."  Needless to say, I didn't sleep too well that evening and did go back a couple times and watched the embers burn themselves out.   In the still of the forest I sat there feeling mixed emotions.  I felt sad for all the trees, animals and life that was altered or ended.  I was so grateful that our little hollow was untouched.  I felt bad for the neighbor that accidentally started the fire while burning a few boxes and how that one decision will be something they live with for a long while.  I was humbled and overwhelmed with pride when I thought of all my other neighbors that came with water and a helping hand and the volunteers that dropped everything they were doing that day to come and try to protect my home.   I felt a tear form in one of my eyes and before I headed back down to the house for the night I did a little rain dance on top of the ridge.

A day later the rains came.   Temperatures dropped back to the normal summer averages and today after three days of more wonderful, cool, refreshing, delicious, rain, I feel and see the balance return.   The grass is getting greener, the cardinals are singing, the hummingbirds are fighting for the feeders, the wildlife is peaking back at us from the woods and even the strangers that we run into at the grocery store are smiling and are saying things like "Have a lovely day".  It feels like the winter of summer has ended and it's spring once again.