Snakes, Hoes and the Red Dirt Road
Each person has their own perception of situations, life experience and conversations. Your body language, tone, and actions create the reactions you will get from others. Each person has their own opinions, beliefs and morals. You can send out one small tweet and be twitter famous. You can post one image and be Instagram famous, with a click of a button. Live in your moment of fame and then click – someone else took your place.
Me? I am not famous, but I am wonderfully made. Psalms 139 is a chapter in Psalms that tells you God knows your every thought. He knows your every fear and anxiousness. He is familiar with your ways. Psalms 139:14 (NIV*) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. The Bible is one book that has never changed the beginning, middle and ending. We can not click and recreate a different set of characters or outcomes. God’s love for you is fierce, unchanging and unconditional. He loves you the way he created you. Learning to use the gifts he has given you takes time. I am finding this out. I love to create. I am good at making wreaths, diaper cakes, crafts, decorating and cooking. Home EC 101 mastered this. But, I have always been slow with the getting started part. I kept putting it off, till it was crunch time. I would create the art in my head for weeks. I was always worried the receiver would not like the outcome. Worried I had missed the mark of creating what they wanted from me. Once the flower arrangement was made and I stepped back and looked at it, I knew the person it was for would love it. Learning to let go and write- I am at awe with how the words come together. Each one is a new direction and closer to where God is leading me. Though I cannot see where this journey is taking me, nor do I know who the receiver of these words will be for. I do know I am working towards a purpose God has planned for me. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV*) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The images of my thoughts and memories are vivid at times and then fuzzy. When I think back to as far as I can remember the first one that comes to me was Granny in the kitchen babysitting me, in our Port Neches home. The phone rings. This was the call for when my sister was born. After that it’s a blur, until the time I was told not to cross the street to get a yellow block, some neighborhood kid threw into the ditch on the other side of the road. We were still in Port Neches, so I know I was not in kindergarten yet. Well I crossed the street and got the spanking of my life, well the first one I remember. All because I was trying to help my sister and did not see the danger at the time of crossing a street. She was crying for the blocks, so I needed to help her.
The stories I remember come from the eyes of a child. When talking with my sister and mom, they remember the events in a different way, and from a different angle. It was their perception or visual field that they recalled the events of this next one. Mom looking from the kitchen window watching her children play and sister running across the yard (can’t give up the story yet). I seriously thought my sister hit my brother over the head with a hoe. This is a gardening tool that you break up the dirt with to pull weeds out. Great tool for killing snakes. Even better yet the time Mom swears she stopped when I fell out of the car with my drowsy doll. In my mind she went around the block and forgot me. Who knows. Also, the beautiful wisteria tree is actually a huge mimosa tree with a wisteria vine entwined throughout it. So, I took their view and my view, meshed them together and this next story was created.
Our three-bedroom, white wooden house- with red shutters, sat bout 50 yards off the red dirt road. You could smell the iron ore in the air, from the dust that blew into the unsealed windows. This small house had wooden and laminate floors. Wooden walls with peeling, cloth wall paper and paneling. This wooden house that sat on cinder blocks was surrounded by towering cedar and oak trees and one beautiful mimosa tree with a wisteria vine entwined throughout the tree.
The wash shed sat off to the right of the kitchen. This is where the washer and dryer were kept. Along with the deep freezers, old motors for boats, empty bottles, rakes, shovels, tills, lawn mowers and spider webs. A huge wooden table was covered in dust, mason jars for canning, miscellaneous tools, and kitchen utensils we had brought out side to dig up mud and look for bones. We could find anything we needed in the wash shed to build a club house, go kart or swimming pool.
We, being my sister and brother. I was the oldest. My sister was the middle child and brother was the baby. At this point of our life we were 5, 7, and 9 years old. We moved in with Granny when I was entering the 4th grade. Granny’s house became home to us for 5 years.
This Saturday morning, we had finished our pancakes and cartoon day was over. I was setting out a gallon glass jar with 8 tea bags and water in it. I set the jar of soon to be sun tea on the wooden shelf, that was nailed between a corner beam of the porch and to the wall of the house. Sun tea was always good on a hot summer day. Sister was washing the breakfast dishes in the metal wash pan and brother was wondering around in the back of the wash shed. I pulled open the screen door and dad was coming out of the kitchen. He was going to go start chopping wood. He was preparing to smoke a brisket for mom’s family, who will be coming soon for the weekend.
I gather up the laundry from the bedrooms and bathroom and haul it out the wash shed. I now get 25 cents a load which isn’t bad for a fourth grader. Sister followed me out to the shed. I should teach her how to do the clothes. Not today though, it’s Saturday and we have chores this morning, no running around in the woods today. We must clean; company was coming from Austin, Houston, Victoria and Clute. Sister starts to move the shovels, rakes, and hoes around on the rusted hooks. She removed the cobwebs from the areas of each space with a long broom. I have finished loading the first load of clothes, so we headed back to the house to clean the bathroom. This chore we shared. Brother is the shortest, so he got the toilet. Yes, delegating came early in life, so I got the sink. Sister got the tub.
We stepped out of the wash shed and see brother swinging an ax. He appeared to be too short to be chopping wood. The closer we got to him we realized he was sitting on the ground chopping wood. This did not seem quit right, dad normally stands up. He was swinging this little ax with all his might onto the block of wood. He pulls back, really far back and strikes the wood again. Each time he does this he lets out a grunt or a wail. We were not really sure of the strange sound he was making. He seemed to be working hard or really struggling at chopping the wood. The closer we got, we started to see this red slimy looking water running down his head. Sister started screaming at him, “Stop!”
He turns and looks at us. Oh my heavens, he was covered in blood. He continues to swing his ax. With each backstroke of the ax he was taking a landing on his head. We ran to him before he can land another corner of the ax on his noggin. We yell, “STOP!” again.
Brother stops and stands up. Questioning us as to why? As he was asking us why, the blood was oozing from his head into his mouth. Brother then starts spitting and complaining about how his sweat tastes funny, not as salty. We take him inside and mom bandages his head. Thanks goodness it was little nick that did not need stitches, just a little butterfly band aid. This sure did show us that Brother had an accurate swing. He kept hitting the same spot on his noggin.
Sister had left to go put away the ax and wood. Bother and I go back outside to find Sister. We start hollering, “Sister, where are you?”
Sister responds, “I’m stuck! There’s a snake following me. It’s under the wash house and I am on the table.” We carefully walk in to find her perched on the wash shed table with a hoe in her hands. All we could see was her blond head and two large eyes; staring at us as she sat surrounded by old metal water coolers, jars and spiderwebs.
“Why do you have a hoe in your hands? Did you kill the snake?”, we asked her.
Her response was not as sweet or as caring as our inquiry about her well being. She started ranting about a snake that was chasing her. Yes, we were going to believe that. Snakes don’t chase people was our debate or should I say argument.
She hops down off the table, with no snake in sight. We were looking in the tall grass around the door of the wash shed and we didn’t find any snake. I headed back to the house. As I was climbing up the back-porch steps, I hear Sister hollering,” Run brother, run!”
I turn to see Brother running across the back yard with a large black snake chasing him. There was sister chasing Brother with the hoe held above her head. Oh my! She’s going to hit Brother in the head if she swings now. Oh, just wait to swing, let Brother get farther ahead of this snake. Brother darted and turned towards Sister. That snake turned and slithered right after him. Brother was ahead of the snake, but the snake was covering ground quickly. That snake didn’t even seem to see Sister. This ol’ black snake must have smelt blood, because he just kept on Brother’s heels, it seemed like eternity, but more like a minute.
Brother turned around at the wash pump and headed toward the large mimosa tree. Sister and I were screaming and hollering as Brother ran right up that Mimosa tree. The snake just kept after him, all the way to the tree. The snake then slithered off behind the wash shed. All this before the sun tea was done and well before lunch.
“No man is poor who has a godly mother” the words of Abraham Lincoln. Proverbs 31 speaks volumes to me. This is the mom I love, the Godly mom who put our needs before hers, always watching from a window and letting us use our wings, to do, fall and learn on our own. The mom I am striving to be. Proverbs 31: 25-26 (NIV*) She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.