Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tale of the Woman-Eating Tree

I've been trying to figure out what to write about because I hate to be repetitive, but the same old things have been going on.  I see coyotes trotting around my property.  I've got a couple of rather large alligator lizard buddies who hang out with me down at the hay barn.  I've been bathing the horses since we had a break in the storms, but I ran out of shampoo before I could wash Rock.  Yet another criminal dipped into our bank account by using our debit card number and I had to waste half a day reporting that, organizing a game plan to prevent it in the future, and ordering a new card.  You know... the usual.

I've finally had some time to continue working on writing my novel.  I've even been able to get a little quilting done.  My To Do List is the shortest it has been in years.  My calendar is almost empty on some days.  I'm hoping this will be a trend.  But I did think of one funny story I can tell.

I learned a long time ago that when my gut and my brain get into a Tug of War over some decision, my gut is always right.  So, my gut keeps reminding me that whenever I step outside the house, I should always take my mobile phone with me.  My brain says, "No, don't do it, because then when you are trying to spend quality time with the horses, someone will call and interrupt and give you something else to do that you don't want to do, and then you'll just be angry."

So, the other evening I walked out of the house to go remove the horses' fly masks and open the gates to their stalls.  I hesitated, wondering if I should take the phone.  It was getting dark out and I could step on a rattlesnake, but then again if I just watch where I'm walking, that shouldn't happen.  But then I can have the best intentions in the world to watch where I step, but if something bizarre happens to distract me and make me look up instead of down, I could still step on a rattlesnake.

I realized that in the time I was obsessing over whether to bring the phone or not, I could have been done with the task and back inside the house, so I continued on down to the barn without the phone.  My husband was home.  If I got into some freak accident, I could call out to him.  I removed the fly masks and opened the gates.  Then I smelled that rancid stench that alerts me to the fact that my fly traps are getting low and need to be refilled with water.  It was almost dark out, but it was cool enough that I had the energy to do the job, so I decided not to wait until morning when it would be much hotter.

I wanted to save myself a few steps by squeezing between the arena fence and the storage shed to get to the fly traps.  There was a weed or bush there that was not there until recently.  It turned out to be a tree that my husband and son had chopped down last year, and it was now trying to sprout back to life by throwing out these long tentacles covered with leaves.  I stepped onto the stump in the middle of the long branches and when I tried to take the next step off the stump, something held me back and I heard my jeans rip.

I looked down to see all of those branches wrapped around my legs.  I reached down to pull one off and got stabbed.  The branches were filled with thorns and there was nowhere I could grab and pull them off of me without stabbing my fingers.  Each time I moved my legs to try to get the thing off me, it just grabbed me tighter.  I could feel the thorns piercing my legs.  I needed help.  I needed my husband to come out and cut the branches off me.

I reached down to grab my phone, and of course, it wasn't there.  I gathered up some air to yell for my husband, and right then I heard a distant drumming begin.  My husband was in the garage playing the drums.  Even if I had my phone and called him, he wouldn't have heard his phone ringing over the noise he was making.  Nor would he hear me calling for help.  I had no choice but to stab myself repeatedly while extricating my legs from all those thorns.  While struggling, I looked up to see a coyote watching me, and I wondered if he wanted to help me, or eat me once I succumbed to exhaustion.  I said, "Hey Yodi!  Get over here and chew through these vines, will ya?"

The dang dog just turned away and trotted down into the arroyo.  I guess I'll never make the cut for the next Dr. Doolittle.

Once free, I grabbed a pick ax and chopped all those branches off the stump.  Unfortunately, they flew into the air and landed on top of the fly traps I needed to fill.  I considered getting gloves to pick them up and move them, but if the thorns could go straight through blue jeans, they could easily pierce gloves.  I picked up an old pitchfork to move the branches with, and got stabbed by a bunch of wooden slivers.  The handle had rotted and the fork was falling off.  Things don't last very long if they are left outside in the desert sun.

I threw that tool to the side and found a rake and began pulling the branches off the fly traps into a waste pile.  The branches were not rolling along the ground easily, because they kept grabbing everything in their path, so I tried picking them up with the rake.  The branches then flew off the rake and wrapped themselves around my T-shirt.  That really hurt, because a T-shirt is much thinner than jeans.  Now I was really in a bind.

I tried walking back to the house with these thorny vines wrapped around my torso to ask my husband to get them off, but with each movement they dug in deeper and pierced me, so once again I had to just rip them off me with my bare hands.  I never ceases to amaze me the types of trouble I get into out in the desert here.  The seemingly most innocuous things can cause all kinds of problems for a person.  I remember my husband and son talking about what a pain it was to cut down that tree, and now I found out first-hand what they went through.

To me, the woman-eating tree that won't die is just one more symbol of my Arizona experience.  Every time I think I have eradicated some annoying problem, it sprouts right back in full force.  It seems I'm in a never-ending struggle to find solutions that work, but it's all in vain because nothing works.  I have to wait for the weather, the temperatures, or the seasons to change, and then the problems just go away on their own... at least until next year, same bat time, same bat channel.