The Cliff of Doom takes a bite

I stand on my front deck, large numbers of short, guttural words spewing from my mouth. I glare at the blood running down both arms. At the torn fingers and palms. I shotgun a few more words and wish like Nuggan I were five years old, so I could stomp my feet, scream, throw things, and not have the neighborhood’s oh-so-subtle paddywagon, with its attendants carrying tidy white straitjackets, pull up at my curb inside of two HotPockets heartbeats (everybody knows they ain’t dead when they go inna oven).

I have accomplished the big things on my list: Going to the store (inside! with people innit! scary stuff!) and finishing the move-the-half-high-blueberries project.

I have also paid bloody damn de erm… what’s the phrase? … I kick a clod, which shatters unsatisfactorily, spraying dust across the deck… oh, he!!s, through some facial orifice or other, for getting it done.

It seems that both of the last two little blueberry bushes were quite happy where they were, thankewverramuch, and I had to climb into the 30″ raised bed to dig them up with a shovel, a jackhammer, and without the three teenaged boys who weren’t, but should have been, going past my house when I needed some muscle (they would’ve run faster than I could, anyway). I discovered an ancient ritualistic-looking circular object around the biggest bush, about 4″ below the surface. It proved not only resistant to shovel blade, but Danny Ocean himself with all the dynamite in the bank couldn’t have gotten it out. Roots had grown into it.

I dug. I pulled. I put not just my back, but every thigh, calf, arm, stomach, and grunt muscle I own into it. I feared gnomes had been using it for arcane midnight rituals, and everybody knows better, with my yard so close to the Wild Forest. It turned out to be a ring of some thatched material, with a hole in the center, and I think (hope) it was put there to hold moisture around the then-newly planted bush’s delicate roots.

Which I proceeded to sever relentlessly with said shovel and said muscles; they were not delicate now. I grunted loudly enough trying to pull the loosened bush out that three neighbors came outside looking for the herd of moose that must be rushing panic-stricken down the street.

When the bush finally gave way, I flopped back onto my substantial ass, dirt from the roots flew up, and showered my head and face (including that part of it that was wide open and grunting).

After spitting out sufficient dirt, I discovered the bush, with root ball, weighed as much as a 30-year-old gamer who thinks a balanced diet means a double-chocolate cheesecake in each hand. Nevertheless, I marshaled my abs again, grunted the bush to its new home, and dropped it in.

After all the fuss and bother attending what amounts to a butcher job rather than a transplant, I noticed that things didn’t look right. I couldn’t focus. I closed one eye; saw fine. The other; fine. Both together; not working. Not at all. I pulled my glasses ever so slightly down my nose. Bugger, I thought, it’s those fancy-pants lenses that traveling optician sold me. I knew she didn’t look right.

I put the tools away and scraped up the worst of the mess before I went in. That included chopping up the sharp, prickly, woodsy-bushy pruned bits into the trash bag, which added to the blood count… on the ground, not in my veins.

Then—when will I learn?!?!—I decided to do One More Thing before I quit for the day. I took the trowel and dug a little hole in the right spot on the Cliff of Doom, where I was going to stick the last live stake I put in the ground in December. The thing has buds on it an inch long; it had to have roots (it didn’t) and should be happy there (it probably won’t).

I did this carefully, getting down on hands and knees and backing down the cliff so as not to go slip-sliding, which on those boulders would not be pretty. Or comfortable.

And my eyes went wonky again. I couldn’t focus. Suddenly I was doing the least coordinated ass-over-teakettle shoulder-roll you ever saw, straight down the cliffside.

I dug my hands in. When they next hit ground, I slammed my killer boots into the dirt. Fortunately, one of the ferns I planted there about five years ago is big and strong enough to hold me, and I did not continue down to splatter on the boulders and become raccoon food. Because yes, since I had not planned to do anything on the cliff today, I did not have my cell phone with me.

I crawled up to the gravel walk, wondering how in all the string-laden multiverse a person can fall down when she’s already on hands and knees facing uphill. I stood up. I realized that nowhere on my corpus would there be an unpainful patch in about two hours. I hurled a few more short, snappy words into the unsuspecting air, which quivered and ran away, leaving me (ha ha) breathless. I threw the trowel—yes, I even remembered to pick it up—into its bin, went inside, and took a hot shower while I could still move.

I was utterly furious with myself, my glasses, the optician, the cliff, with everything in my world, especially those missing thugs who didn’t even show up so they could run away laughing rather than do a good deed for a helpless little old lady.

While toweling off, I glared at myself in the mirror. I did look like a war victim. But I shook my fist and refused to knuckle under. No, I thought. It all went sideways at the end, but it wasn’t my fault entirely, and I’m OK. I’m gonna be grateful I didn’t fall all the way down the stinkin’ cliff an’ didn’t break anything. That’s my story an’ I’m stickin’ to it.

And I took out my Gratitude Journal and dutifully wrote—five times—“Didn’t fall all the way down the cliff.”

Because some things deserve extra emphasis.

Posted by wordsmith


So am I. Love you, too.

Oh Mother. Love you, and hope you’re doing OK. I’m glad you didn’t fall all the way down the cliff.

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