I WILL SHARE some New Year’s resolutions with you next week, but will give you a peek at one: I resolve to become a multi-millionaire by inventing a way to get the orange stuff off your fingertips after you’ve eaten a bag of Cheetos.
Here is another Mine Creek Revelations gem plucked from the past. This is from December of 2010. You might not know Louise Fox. That is a name given to a fox which has been espied in my neighborhood for a couple of years.
Asked if I had seen (or had heard from anyone who had seen) Louise, during a recent gathering of fine minds, I had to answer ‘no.’ One of the brainiacs at the table suggested that maybe Louise was in hibernation. I don’t think foxes hibernate, but who am I to argue?
Not being one to hold back in a conversation even if among strangers or in the company of persons obviously smarter than myself, I said that I remembered a time when many men here used to go fox hunting all night long.
All eyes at the table turned to me to silently accuse: “Why you ignorant loudmouth geezer!”
I was humbled for a short time.
When I got a chance I called one of those fox hunters — George Castleberry — who summoned some memories of his fox-hunting days. George is even older than me, though he doesn’t look it.
There was quite a group of fox hunters around here at one time, he says, although typically only a handful showed up for a night outing.
They’d choose a remote site to ‘cast’ or turn the dogs loose. Then they’d sit around a fire and listen to the sounds of the night and the delirious baying of those dogs once they crossed the trail of a fox.
The preferred breed of dog was a ‘Walker,’ George remembers.
This was in the day (or night) before the Pilgrim mill howled, or the railroad yard engine honked all night long, and the midnight thumping of boombox cars could shake mortar from old brick walls downtown — meaning that the hunters could actually hear themselves think. They could also hear the dogs as they may or may not have chased some unfortunate longtailed critter through the briars and vines.
I’ve always heard that the fox hunters could tell which hound was leading the chase (“By golly I reckon that’s old Blue,” I can imagine one of ‘em saying).
The hunters really did know which hound first ‘jumped’ the fox. “At least that’s what we told ourselves,” George remembered in uncharacteristic modesty for a fox hunter.
The pleasure for the fox hunters was the company of friends under a starry sky, gathered around a flickering campfire in some pine-scented copse far from city lights.
No animal was killed, and sometime before dawn most of the dogs returned to the campfire plumb tuckered.
Since the dogs never killed the fox, or at least never brought a fox carcass back to the campfire, we only have the reputed honesty of those men that their dogs were actually hunting foxes, not the nearest rural neighbor’s cats.
Now that I think about it, it makes me mad that they might have been chasing Louise’s great-great-great-grandmother.
Frequently one or more dogs would get lost, and they’d slink mournfully up and down rural roads for a day or two until the owner managed to drive up on them and take them home for a good meal and a chance to rest up before the next hunt. I think the dogs would have gone home with anyone who slowed down and offered them an Oscar Mayer. At least that was my impression.
George, I asked, did any of those fox hunters ever take a libation whilst sitting around the fire?
What? he answered.
CHRISTMAS tradition. Daughter Julie and I maintained our Christmas Eve tradition by attending a midnight Little Rock area church service. So far we’ve been to four different Catholic churches and an Episcopal church. The service one year was in Latin; one year mostly in Spanish. Once it was in a church with a traditional Polish membership, and some of the carols were sung in that language.
Interesting and impressive.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn’t he just buy dinner?
THE TWINS. I recently enjoyed an early morning coffeebreak with the twins, Cream and Sugar.
HE SAID: “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” Neil Gaiman, comic book creator
SHE SAID: “New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.” Sarah Ban Breathnach, author
SWEET DREAMS, Baby