Sunday, October 17, 2010

"As long as you have knees under you"

I was splitting wood on the hillside above the house in West Virginia. Everything east of Huntington  is on a hillside in West Virginia. I broke my splitting maul handle and had sent Annie to town for a new one. I heard the trusty Volkswagen come in,  and kept working ...ten minutes handle. I cut the saw off, and stood up looking toward the house down the hill, There, a small figure was trying to pull an 8 pound splitting maul through the creek. I watched for a minute to see how she was gonna' managed that one.

Soaked to her knees, this 3 year old had gotten the maul out off the porch, and drug the maul thru the yard and tried to drag it over the foot log across the creek. The maul had fallen in the creek and buried itself in the mud. She went in after it.

She was trying to wrestle it free...hard to tell who was winning. She had serious demeanor, snorting like a mad bull, tugging on it. I went down to help her...and she let me "help" pull her, and the maul, out of the creek She  insisted she hold the handle while we walked up the slope to the downed tree. Jessie explained to me that there was no handle, so Mama bought a new maul and she (Jessie) was bringing it to me.

Let's see...that and 8 pound splitting maul, a three year old girl, and a quarter mile from the house through a creek and up a pretty steep slope...yep, that sound like my daughter Jesslyn.

 She  made "hamjugers" out of sawdust for our lunch while I loaded up the trailer with firewood. I suppose I should have taken her down to the house to change clothes...after all she was 3 years old and soaking wet to the November. She wasn't complaining, and I figured we'd go as soon as I loaded up. I'd probably get rung up by DEFACS if they found out about that kind of neglect these days.

She called me once while attending Prescott College.  I teased her about going to a hippie college, though I wish Prescott had been a choice when I went to college. She  told me that she had gotten into quick sand three times in one day in the little Grand Canyon, or somewhere. She called me from Barrow Point, Alaska on my birthday in June one year saying she had to wear an eye mask to get some sleep, that it was light 24 hours a day.

 I began to remember my ramblings as a young man Colorado in the 60's, West Virginia in the 60's and 70's,  California and Australia in the 80's and 90's. Then my knees started to shout,"Enough"!

That was about 10 years ago, and the concentric circles from home base have become small and less extensive...and some what less adventuresome. There are things I can no longer do, like walk down the Grand Canyon, as I did at least once in the 70's, 80's and 90's. My knees won't do it now. Climbing to the top of the Saint Simons Island Lighthouse is plenty, thank you. My bicycle is my means of traveling...the knees work fine...though I'd be be in rough shape if I had to walk home for some reason.

I remember telling this adventuresome daughter to keep going " as long as you have knees under you". I will give that advice to anyone. Keep the knees moving, and teach your children well... do your rambling while you're young. Don't wait until you "retire". All you'll have is more toys and no experiences.

Mitch Jayne wrote a song the Dillard's sang that contained a line that goes something like this, "There is a time for us to wander, when time was new and so are we".

 Jesslyn and Odessa... Keep those knees moving while you got time on your side!


  1. Awww, Daddy! Well, that's just real sweet. Does this mean I'm one of your favorite people? Huh? huh? Does it?

  2. Oh, Patrick - this was awfully swell. It reminds me why I love you AND that Jess of yours so very much.