Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I got home later tonight than usual and the warm sun had already sank below the horizon. I had promised myself earlier in the day that I was going to walk, but I was tied up in meetings so I never got around to it. I decided to walk before nightfall set in because I didn't want to break a promise to myself.
I read a poem entitled the ballad of Sam McGee which has an incredible line:
"A promise made is a debt unpaid."
Not wishing to leave a debt unpaid to a very important person, I got Buddy and we went for a walk.
I have a driveway about a hundred and fifty yards long that meanders behind our house to the barn. It's like a green tunnel this time of year and walking through it makes me think of scenes from "Lord of the Ring". When fading light gets caught in the branches and leaves it has a mystical quality that's hard to describe with words. At the end of the driveway is our old red barn that's seen its better days. One reason for its demise is a huge Cottonwood tree that has decided to sprout from the north side much too close to the foundation.
Cottonwoods grow fast and this one now stands taller than the apex of the roof. I know I need to cut it down and repair the damaged foundation but the reason this has not happened is because at this time of year, the tree puts on trumpet shaped purple flowers that have a bouquet which is a cross between grape coolaid and a good French Merlot. The hardened seedpod are as sticky as bubblegum.
This is a smell from my childhood, long before I had an inkling of just how good a good French Merlot smells. The tree grew in our yard in West Pratt and every year before school let out for the summer, the old tree would bloom and give off this heavenly fragrance. I used to pick up some of the fallen blooms and put them in my lunchbox and take them to school. Each time Ms. Carter, my first grade teacher, strolled down the isle to check the progress of our work, she would catch a slight scent of the flowers and would pause ever so briefly to try and detect where the smell was originating. Perhaps it reminded her of her childhood.
So tonight my walk was made more enjoyable by those little flowers. I picked one up and brought it home to inspire me while I wrote this entry.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:10 PM

    There's a wonderful story about "The Ballad of Sam McGee." Way back during the 2000 election primary season, "The Daily Show" was going around doing some "gotcha" bits for fun, and interviewing all the candidates. They'd ask "What's your favor poem?" The candidate, wanting to look literate, would come up with something. Then the Daily Show guy would say "Can you quote a few verses?" Of course they couldn't.
    Then they got to John McCain's bus. He answered "The Ballad of Sam McGee." Then, when asked to quote a line or two, he proceeded to recite the entire poem from memory. The Daily Show guy was nonplussed, and said "wow, how'd you know that?"
    McCain answered "well, when I was a POW in Vietnam, the guy in the cell next to me taught it to me. In Morse code."
    The Daily Show guy laughed and said "you got me..."


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