Young southern girl in Huck Finn tradition exploring her world with her best friend.
|A work in progress, but hopefully a young teen girls adventure series...Love to hear what you think. Andie|
Cannon Hill Park Misadventures
My Momma always wanted a girl. Momma usually got what she wanted. Trouble was, Momma also wanted to make frilly, fancy dresses with silky ribbons and bright buttons. What Momma got was me, Tommye Jaye Brandy; smart, sassy and inventive. Momma got me with blue eyes and waffle stompers, pigtails and blue jeans, and laughter that makes others smile in spite of themselves. Along with all of that, Momma also got me with my dirt bike, skateboard, fielder’s mitt, and baseball cards. I’d say that Momma got lots more than she asked for.
Momma and Daddy like to tell stories on each other. Somethin’ bout rememberin’ yer roots and such. I like it best when Daddy tells stories about Momma when she was a little girl. Momma tries to act very mad when Daddy tells his stories. But when Momma thinks nobody is looking, I see a special smile in her eyes for my daddy. One time Daddy told me that Momma was a tomboy and could throw a mean spitball. “When she was your age,” he says, “Junie Moon (that’s my momma’s name) could out throw Ozzie Smith at shortstop.” Momma just smiles and says something under her breath about telling stories and such.
Turns out, Momma and me aren’t so different after all. Momma was a tomboy!? Ligntnin’ bolts fell all around me. Shoot! All I could think about was my Momma as a tomboy, too. Sometimes I wondered why she just smiled when I came in with muddy shoes or greasy hands. Momma sure has me pegged. Right from the day I was born, it seems.
Livin’ up to my tomboy name is easy. I earn more skinned knees and band-aids flyin’ into third base, and I wear out more tenny shoes than my all-time best friend, Chadwick Pederson. Chadwick Pederson’s name was too much for me to spit out quick-like so I reconstructured [sic] it and tagged him “Scout”.
As for tellin’ stories, Scout and me shared a few ‘tween ourselves. We often bragged that we should write a book. For instance, one day in late springtime Scout and me was dirt bikin’ with a tin bucket rattlin’ against our handlebars; circlin’ around Cannon Hill Park pond. Our pond, with budding willow trees and maple trees hangin’ over green, gooey water was our retreat from the city, and home to a flock of geese and a pair of mating swans. The geese was OK, but those swans was somthin’ else.
On this particular day, as it usually did, the slimy water begged us to wade right in. We splashed into the knee-high bliss with homemade nets wavin’. Scout and me was searchin’ for pollywogs (some folks call them tadpoles). Just in case ya did not know, pollywogs, or tadpoles is a baby frog without arms or legs for hoppin’ and late spring is the perfect time for catching the little fellers.
Capturing pollywogs is a sure fascination for Scout and me lasting throughout the spring and summer. We never get over the transformination [sic] from pollywog to fully developed frog. Those pollywogs grows from fully tailed swimming green eggs to tailless, four-legged smiley faced frogs. We never figured out what happened to those pollywogs tails until we was nearly grown up . . . almost thirteen years old.
Anyway, like I was sayin’, Scout and me waded right into the muddy bottomed pond with ooze squishin’ through our toes. We both jumped a little when the tadpoles and finger-sized fishies tickled our bare legs when they was nibblin’ and poppin’ the air bubbles stuck to the hairs on our legs. All that nibblin’ makes us wiggle and grin.
Catchin’ the little felllas isn’t as easy as it sounds either. These little critters are quick and slippery. Takin’ one slurpin’ footstep at a time while dippin’ a net made outa Momma’s mostly old stockins’ takes real considerable concentration. Havin’ your foot stuck in that muddy ooze at the same time feels like its gonna be stuck forever.
I was watching as Scout was bendin’ over the water, peering into the greenness with a determined look of concentrated focusedness[sic] in his eyes. Now, take it from me, pullin’ yer foot up out of that goo without makin’ a suckin, slurpin sound whilst dippin’ yer net is next to impossible, and Scout was leanin’ waaaaay over to see what he could see. Before I could yell, “Hop, skip, and JUMP!” that daddy swan paddled up behind Scout. Drawn to Scout by the slightest of squishin’ sounds he sneaked up, reached between his legs, and grabbed a bite of his knee. Scout let out a yelp and tried to run away. The more he tried to run, the more stuck in the mud he became. Sure enough, gravity took over and Scout landed face first into that mucky pond water.
Scout came up on all fours coughin’ and sputterin’. Mucky slimy water was pourin’ outa his nose and runnin’in his eyes. That old cob (that’s whatcha call a daddy swan) began to sputter and squawk, too. Then, whoosh, that big swan spread his wings reachin’ six feet across and began beatin’ them in the air. Then, he began raisin’ himself up on the water, stretchin’ his neck until he looked six feet tall, too. All I could do was laugh until Scout glared at me through pond-drenched eyes.
Of course, I took action right away. Jumpin’ in that pond to save my best friend was the only thing I could do. I grabbed Scout’s arm and pulled. All I could hear was that unforgettable suckin’ sound as his right hand came out of the muck followed by his left hand covered with slimy algae and mud. Holdin’ onto both Scout’s hands, I pulled Scout from that water. He just slid on his belly as if he was body surfin’ in the ocean. You all know what I’m talkin’ about. Only it weren’t the ocean hangin’ off Scout, it was muddy Cannon Hill pond muck.
When Scout stopped howling, we commented together about the size and color of his future bruises. We, then, looked back at the swans and began trudging home along the ole rooted and muddied path. All the way home, I listened to my buddy, Scout, recount his perilous experience. All the way home, we slogged and dripped in our shoes.
Momma knew all about our excursions. Comin’ down the road toward home, Scout and me was a sight to be seen. Momma done already seen what there was to see. Two muddy messes walkin’ with two muddy bikes like all the water in the world couldn’t divide the mud from the kid. Momma met us in the backyard with the hose. She used the hose like that swan used his long neck reachin’ out and sprayin’ us down before we could set foot in her clean house. She grumbled good-naturedly that she hadn’t ever seen two such kids in her life, and her folks woulda skinned her alive. A hop, skip and a jump later, stories about her life down on the farm and how hard it was spilled from her mouth reminding us how lucky we was.
After Momma finished hosin’ him down a bit, Scout headed home for dinner. Scout’s momma wasn’t always as understanding as Momma. Chadwick Pederson in his momma’s mind’s eye was a future doctor or lawyer. Playing around some dirty ol’ pond didn’t agree with her idea of how Chadwick should spend his summer vacation, but she did manage a somewhat good natured acceptance of our enthusiastic adventures. Scout and me didn’t always understand his momma, either.
A coupla days after the infamous swan incident, Scout and me was at the park climbing one of our favorite trees. We was imaginin’ and watchin’ out for pirates and such. Scout got to talkin’ about the daddy swan, and wonderin’why somethin’ so beautiful had to be so contrary. Well, ya see, Scout wondered about lots of things. Scout was smart that way. Ever since last summer’s experience, this daddy swan mystified him.
Ya’ see, Scout and that big daddy swan go way back. Trouble between them began when Scout and me was racin’ around that pond like we was BMX dirt bikers headed for the finish line. Scout followed me by half of a bike length and he was comin’ on strong. Thing is that me bein’ in front, I saw what was comin’ across the trail. The cob and his missus was headin’ for the pond followed by three of the fluffiest looking cygnets. That’s whatcha call baby swans, ya know? I yanked hard on my bike and stopped up the embankment. Scout didn’t see what I saw until it was too late.
He did his best though, and stomped on his brakes doing a front wheel stand at the same time. Only thing is the bike stopped but Scout kept on goin’. Sure as you can see it in your mind like you was right there, Scout landed head first in that daddy swan’s little family. Just like that! A hop, skip and a JUMP later, that cob was all over Scout hissin’ and wavin’ his wings and splutterin’ all over Scout. All Scout saw was that big daddy swan standin’ six feet tall over him, and those three fluff-covered, baby-billed buddies hissin’ and peckin’ at his head and shoulders, too.
Scout hollered for help, and began wriggling his way out of his predicament.
I felt so bad for Scout but I giggled and belly-laughed as I skittered down to pull him from the clutches of those ferocious swans. Next thing ya know, Scout and me hightailed it out of the swan’s sight and over the embankment.
After two or three minutes (or sixty) Scout and me peaked cautiously over the top. Sure as shootin’, that daddy and his missus had those babies out in the middle of our pond swimmin’ as graceful as can be without even a ruffled feather. I just shook my head.
That’s what Scout was wonderin’ about today as we was sittin’ high up in our favorite old willow tree. Scout began to think out loud the way he always does. “Tommye, you and me always think of this pond as ours, but maybe those swans see the pond as theirs, too. Maybe, the daddy swan isn’t mean. Maybe, he’s just trying to protect his family and home.”
Well, of course, Scout lost me way back at the beginning, but he got me to thinking, too. That day in the willow tree, Scout and me took on a little more responsibility for “our” pond. We learned as much as we could about swans and their habitats. We read books, surfed the internet, and explored encyclopedias. Scout and me talk a different talk now about our pond’s “ecosystem” and how to care for it. Our friends don’t laugh at us “much”. They love that pond like we do.
As for Scout and me, we could tell you a bunch of other stories but we gotta get home. You know Momma. She said, “Home by dinnertime.” She means dinnertime.