Life on Mockingbird Hill
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
The old Rock ‘n Roll star, Antoine “Fats” Domino and I had/have two things in common. First off, Fats was fat. I’m, on the other hand, merely pot-gutted. So, we were about the same on that score.
Second, mockingbirds gave/give both of us a thrill. You old-time rockers like me will remember Fats’ rendition of “Mockingbird Hill” ….. “Tra-la-la, tweedlee dee dee, it gives me a thrill to wake up in the morning to the mockin’ bird’s trill. Tra-la-la, tweedlee dee dee, there’s peace and goodwill. You’re welcome as the flowers on Mockin’bird Hill. When the sun in the mornin’ peeps over the hill and kisses the roses ‘round my windowsill, then my heart fills with gladness when I hear the trill of those birds in the treetops on Mockin’bird Hill.”
Well, this summer it’s giving me a thrill and filling my heart with gladness because I live on Mockingbird Hill, too. Yep, a pair of mockingbirds are nesting within a stone’s throw of our rear deck. The male “hummer” never tires of singing, morning and evening, especially from the peak branch of a dead cedar tree that I left in place specifically as a perch for my feathered friends. He sings for a moment or two, then gracefully flits into the air a few feet, and then lands again and never stops singing.
To me, it’s both beautiful and amazing how many different sounds a mockingbird can make. There’s nuthin’ much more enjoyable than sitting on our deck on a bright spring morning, with a fresh cup of hot coffee, flavored up with a tad of Irish Creme whiskey, and sipping it while our “Mocker” sings up a storm.
I can understand why Fats Domino, Patty Page and Slim Whitman, among others, chose to record “Mockingbird Hill.”
Last week, the 82nd rendition of the Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City dodged a bullet — all three performances happened a few days after it quit flooding. The arena was in fine shape for all three performances. The parking lot barely got rutted up. Also, the crowds were excellent.
Plus, the Cottonwood River had gone down enuf that the rodeo parade could safely “parade” between the “Twin Cities” Saturday afternoon.
A highlight for me was a short visit from two of my old buddies from Colorado — Tex Junkman and Jay Esse. We had a good visit while Nevah and I did our work stint at the competitors’ gate. Both of them, just like me, are still kicking, just not very high anymore.
Two weeks ago, I told a true coon hunting story, as related to me by my buddy, ol’ Finn N. Fuhrs. Well, he followed up that funny hunting story with a second one just as funny. This one again took place somewhere near the Crawford/Labette county line in southeast Kansas.
The story goes that Finn and a teen-aged buddy decided one summer evening to travel about 10 miles north of their home range to hunt some “prairie coon,” which are raccoons that travel from pond to pond in the uplands, rather than near the rivers. The reason the boys chose the location was because “it is far enough from home that the farmers won’t know us if we happen to get on the wrong land.”
Well, when they released their hounds, it didn’t take long for them to get into a hot chase. The boys were hard pressed to keep the hounds within hearing range. Eventually, they heard the hounds “treeing,” but when they arrived, much to their chagrin, the “tree” the coon was “up,” was actually a “front porch” of a farm house that he was “under.”
The hounds and the coon were making a heckuva racket. And, to make matters worse, the intrepid hunters arrived at the chaotic scene just as a light in the farm house turned on and the front door opened. “What’s goin’ on out here?” the farmer roared gruffly into the dark.
“Our hounds got a coon under your porch,” a faint voice came out of the darkness.
“Well, Finn Fuhrs, you catch your danged hounds and get your little coon-hunting butt home and let me get some sleep.”
Finn told me that, as a kid, he wuz sure surprised that word of his coon hunting exploits had traveled so fast and so far from home.
Got a good funny for you. At breakfast a harried farmer asked his frazzled wife sarcastically,“Honey, what would you do if I won the lottery?”
His surly wife replied assertively, “Why, honey, I’d take half of the winnings and then leave you to love this here farm you’re really married to.”
At that, the farmer took out his money clip, peeled off a ten-spot, tossed it on the table and replied, “Great! Yesterday I won $20 bucks in the lottery. Here’s your half. Keep in touch.”
Now, here’s some pretty astute words of wisdom to finish off this week’s column: “The Constitution doesn’t need to be rewritten; it needs to be reread.”
Joseph Sobran said: “’Need’ now means wanting someone else’s money. ‘Greed’ means wanting to keep your own. ‘Compassion’ is when a politician arranges the transfer.”
Have a good ‘un. ❖