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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Night Madness Daylight Geese

Things the RRR forgot to blog... A call to the Rangerettes Back East, who had been out blowing bubbles in the back yard. The darling grand daughters described the process with great enthusiasm. It took me back into their world momentarily where soap bubbles are magic galaxies of sparkling color and mystery. With great difficulty I restrained myself from telling them they could slip a little powdered sugar into the bubble mix and make the bubbles incredibly long lasting and not nearly so delicate. Momma might not have approved of the sticky mess resulting. An idea I got from W. Ben Hunt, one of the very best rangers of a century ago. He also suggested having a smoker blow a few bubbles for you as he puffed, which creates miniature clouds encased in glimmering soap globes. Also not a good idea for little girls.

On Monday morning the trip home to the cabin dragged on and I stopped below the Big Dam and walked the trails for an hour. The retired caretakers of the small campground had it to themselves and Mrs. Caretaker was standing in front of the playground surrounded by wild geese. The way they were pushing up around her I knew she was committing the possibly illegal, certainly unethical act of feeding them. I suggested to her that she was creating a situation in which the toddlers who would soon be using the playground behind her could easily be attacked by the geese. To a goose, especially a dominant gander, the flashing eyes of a tiny child look like large tasty insects. She angrily informed me that children deserved to be attacked as they tease "her" geese. And then told me that geese had the same right to be here humans do. I told her that I could not disagree more strongly and that should any animal attack a child in my presence whatever the stimuli, that animal would instantly die. Infuriated she stomped to her trailer and informed her husband what kind of an insensitive creature was walking around their campground. I watched as he painfully pushed himself up out of his lawn chair and with stooped shoulders trudged to the trailer as she trotted along beside him her mouth pouring vindictiveness into his long-suffering ears.

He stood in the doorway looking sadly at me as I approached, then at her command slammed the door shut. As I went by the trailer I saw the sign on the front, Proud To Be Retired Army. I thought about going back and knocking on the door and reminding him he must have been a man once. But somehow I think that awareness is constant with him. I always have to wonder, did I once hear his voice on a radio a generation ago? Did he sound calm and reassuring to a scared young man crying out desperately for reinforcements, artillery, airstrikes, or a medivac? What happened to both of us in the intervening years that left him a withered victim and me the one who set her off when I could have just kept my mouth shut?

I went home then and petted the dogs and sipped my coffee and slept at last and when Mrs. RRR came home hugged her and hugged her and hugged her some more. Oh dear God, how could I have been so fortunate and the retired soldier so miserable?

Tonight? well a much different story, admissions pouring in on the shift ahead of us, another on ours. I suspect the great cosmic K-Mart is having a blue light special on suicidal teenagers. Where have we gone wrong that we have created a world where teens see nothing to live for?


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