[lit-ideas] Hereabouts

  • From: david ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 18 Oct 2015 10:55:26 -0700

Yesterday I walked down stairs, carrying items in each hand. The beast within
is on its way to defeat. Hooray for my body’s recuperative capacity.

Frailty offered lessons in patience. Where once I felt great urgency to get on
with things, or railed--at least internally-- at the injustices of life, my
shrunken self just shrugged. “No ambition to solve that problem. I’ll just
stop and chat with this fellow, the fourth today, who says he likes my cane.
The cane is beautiful. We can agree on that. I’m in favor of agreement.
Solidarity with the halt and the lame.” (If you’re wondering whether halt and
lame borders on tautology, read here:

Cheddar developed the idea that she might become a prophet.
“Forty days and forty nights in the wilderness is what I’d like to book,
I explained I wasn’t a travel agency and then attempted to disabuse her of the
idea that a chicken can spend even a single night in the wild. “The forty
days,” I suggested, "you can use however you wish. Pick any corner of the
woods and commune to your heart’s content. But at night, you have to be inside
with the others. The alternative would be becoming someone’s dinner.”
Cheddar protested. “But it’s hell in there; the others aren’t kind.”
“I can imagine,” I said. "Kindness doesn’t seem a common trait among chickens.”
Cheddar paced, meditatively, “I was thinking of becoming a Buddhist, or
something. Maybe Bahai?”
“Hard to do when you live among ex-dinosaurs whose sense of solidarity and
sharing doesn’t extend to food. Couldn’t you be a Buddhist in the daytime and
something else at night?”
“A dual identity? What an intriguing notion. I could go undercover.”
“Sleep on it, is my advice.”
Cheddar wasn’t having this, “No, no. We sleep on a pole. Can’t sleep on an
idea. Don’t you know anything?"

When the other god too off for the coast I took on the task of trying to get
chickens in. I could have waited for my wife to do it, but I thought achieving
something would make me feel better. The chickens were worried by my stick.
They ran away and then closed into a tight knot. It being dusk, I had a hard
time seeing who said what, so I’ll have to report without attribution. I’m
pretty sure the echoing was Cheddar and the command to “run for it” came from
Rocky. She did make a break at the end, but had second thoughts when she
realized she wasn’t getting her share and ran quickly back.
“God's got an extra leg.”
”Don’t like that.”
“No, no. He’ll be tripartite before you can say 'three bits and a jimmy.’"
“Sound like four-part-tight to me.”
“What does?”
“Three bits and a jimmy.”
“It’s a figure of speech.”
“Damn strange one if you ask me.”
“Not at all. I was being colloquial.”
Cheddar said, “Obsequious.”
“Who’s obsequious?”
“No one. I like the sound of the word."
“It can’t be our god.”
“Looks a bit like him."
“No, no.”
“I say humor him, then when I nod, we’ll make a run for it.”
“Watch out, he’s holding his leg out. No, it’s an arm! He’s extended his arm!”
“Cunning devil.”
“There’s no getting round that.”
“Not with the dog on the other side.”
“Dog’s harmless.”
“You want to try running past him?"
“We’re trapped.”
“I suppose there are worse places to be trapped.”
“Worse places."
“He’s throwing bread.”
“That means his arm’s down. Run for it girls.”
“You run; we’ve got breeeead!”

"Beside the Bonny Briar Bush" and Wilfried Bony have little or nothing in
common. The first you’ll find halfway up the stairs from my office in a
collection of books chosen for what seemed to me extraordinary titles, “Danger
From Deer,” “Prisoner of Chance,” “I Knew Your Soldier,” that sort of thing.
I have several shelves of these oddities, which generally make me smile as I go

Wilfred Guiemand Bony, from Ivory Coast, is a soccer player who was hot stuff
for Swansea and then was bought by Manchester City for umpteen million
pounds—some amount—whereupon he contracted Malaria, from which he is now

Amazon describes “Beside the Bonny Briar Bush" as “one of the most notorious
works of Scottish literature." I hope they mean famous or well-known because a
minister’s wife writes in the comments below, "My husband, Bill, has had this
book for years and can't get enough of it. He keeps it on his nightstand. It
has some wonderful, heartwarming stories from a village in old Scotland. If you
are or know a minister... the stories make great illustrations for sermons. I
have a hard time reading it because of the old Scottish dialect... but it is
one of Bill's top 5 books!”

Bony scored a goal on Saturday.


David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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