Friday, October 28, 2016

The Mystery That Is Man

I've updated this post for our grandson Malachi.
He was over again today on one of his countless rescue missions in this now all-female household.
This time it was to fell an errant tree in the backyard that was in danger of doing damage.

As he headed his Eagle Scout self out back, he was armed.
Carrying a huge ladder and many sharp objects, including a fierce ax, he strode past me muttering enthusiastically about different ways to start a fire to burn the mountain of tree debris. Apparently green wood may need encouragement.

I listened in increasing alarm.

He mentioned that reinforcements had been called in to assist. His cousin and my nephew, Ivan, another male, is thankfully always willing to help us too. Mal thought that maybe he'd have some good ideas about that burning thing.

I was suddenly struck down by a wave of deja-vu.  "There it is," I thought.  "All over again, as they say."

Then from inside my head came a shout, "This kid reminds me of his grandfather!"

So, here's to you, Malachi.
And thank you so very much for taking such good care of us.
We never would have made it through the last year without you.


I may have shared this with you before but my memory is like a sieve now. Anyway, this subject's been on my mind lately.
The subject of men that is.
Or more precisely the mystery of the male animal.
You'd think that since I've been married for half a century, and all that time to a man, and because I’m not a stupid woman, some kind of insight concerning male thinking would naturally develop.
Sadly you’d be wrong.

This "man pondering" was brought on by our gorgeous desert fall weather, by the way.
Let me explain.

It’s planting time down here in our sunny valley.
Other folks in the northern hemisphere may be putting up storm windows and shoveling flakes but I’ve been keeping a sharp lookout at the big box stores for the first six packs of flowering annuals.
I nearly shouted with glee the other day when I scored some Johnny-jump ups.
I swear they looked like little purple and yellow giggles bobbing in the breeze….you couldn’t help but smile.

I even managed to get them planted in the back patio pots all by myself.
Grandkids had previously lugged the heavy bags of potting soil and filled them for me.
I snuck them in among the petunias, geraniums and dianthus already getting started.

Then as I surveyed my work my eyes cast over our entire backyard.
When we moved here years ago there wasn’t a green growing thing anywhere.
A few dried tumbleweeds had blown into the corners of the block fence, the only sign of life to be found.
So we planted trees and shrubs galore, hoping for shade from the relentless desert sun among other things.

As I looked around I realized how wildly successful we’d been.
In addition to what we’d planted on purpose there’d been a couple of volunteers now grown to huge trees. One mesquite will soon reach above the house.

In fact, it’s kind of a jungle out here now.
Something will need to be done, I worried.
Then my eyes fell on a bare spot along the fence. Once I’d planted a beautiful “String of Pearls” bouganvillia there but it didn’t make it.
I remembered the day I found out why.
It was one of those “the mystery that is man” days.

It was the first February we’d lived here. All our plantings were still new and tentative looking.
All except the weeds that were coming up in a solid carpet of green where nothing but dirt had been when we moved in.
Somehow the winter rains had magically found weed seeds waiting for moisture.
Nature’s miracle had happened in our own backyard. Front yard too, actually.

Well, the miracle must be stopped.
And it must be stopped right away because the homeowners association would send us an ugly letter if weeds were spotted from the street.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re actually grateful for our HO. It protects the neighborhood property values from people like us.

So Larry was put in charge of getting rid of the weeds.
I didn’t even have to nag him because he’s afraid of the Homeowners Ass. (As he fondly calls it.)
I was thinking some kind of herbicide spray would do the trick. And maybe some pulling.
But then I was not Larry, who is a man.

The first thought that came to his mind when given the task of weed removal was to build a contraption out of a two wheeled dolly (that thing you move heavy appliances with), a long sprayer device, and a propane tank from the barbeque filled with explosives.
This wouldn’t have occurred to me.
His invention shot fire out the end of the sprayer and made a terrifying blasting, whoosing noise like a hot air balloon being filled before liftoff. A neighbor actually called.
He drug it along behind him as he went from weed to weed incinerating it. It left awful black burn marks all over the yard and caused dogs to bark from blocks away.
It was horrible.

One day our daughter and son-in-law came over when Larry was “weeding,” as he now loved to do.
Scott, who is also a man, thought this remarkable invention was a stroke of genius and asked to borrow it for their yard.
I joyfully convinced Larry that he needed to share. It made him sad but he agreed.

A couple of days later I got a frantic call from Kim.
“Ma, tell Dad to come get his fire blower. Scott is burning up the whole yard and black splotches are everywhere. Today I caught the boys looking at it and I know they were trying to figure out how it works. That thing is dangerous! Get him over here quick before someone gets hurt!”

I did notice that none of their five daughters were reported to have tried to figure out how it worked.
Only the males who would one day become men.
Apparently this thing starts early.

Anyway, a few weeks later Larry and I were again out in the yard working when I noticed my lovely “String of Pearls” bouganvillia over along the fence. This variety was a hard to find delicate pinkish white. I was anxious to see it in color.
To my great dismay it looked sick. In fact it looked dead.
I said to my dear husband, “Oh no…..look at my bouganvillia! And it was doing so well!

Larry stopped what he was doing and gazed across the yard to my poor plant.
“That’s too bad, Hon.” he said in a sympathetic tone.
He stopped to stare quietly for a minute and then remarked, “I think it must get too hot over there by the fence.”

“Too hot!” I cried. No, that can’t be it. Bouganvillia love the heat.”
I walked sadly over to investigate.
There among the black scorch marks on the ground were poking the charred roots of my once promising plant.

I turned and sent an accusing look over at my husband.

He actually said without shame, “Look….there’re no weeds around it.”

This whole thing got me to thinking about the scriptures.
Specifically about Adam in the garden of Eden. As I recall it tells about a time when Adam was left alone there.
Father looked down on him and said something like…….
“Will you look at that. There’s Adam all alone in the garden. Well, that certainly is NOT good!"

I think He may have added, "Good grief he needs help! Quick, hurry and get a woman or there’s no telling what will happen.”
Perhaps there wasn't room to include everything.

And so woman was put on the earth.
If you think about this even a little you’ll realize that one of the divine purposes of woman’s existence is to stop men from doing all the crazy stuff they want to do.
You can read all about it in the Old Testament.
You’ll notice that there’s no mention of Adam making a fire blowing weed killer.
Thank you Eve.

It’s amazing to me how the scriptures, most of them written long ago, still apply to our lives today.
I guess some things never change, do they?