Whale’s Tales

Whale’s Tales


Sometimes It Blows – Tale 1

In keeping with the theme of this blog, in the South, there are few sounds more soothing and beautiful than that of a Fall breeze working its way melodically through a thicket of pine trees. Visually, the Winter icing that periodically occurs on pines is a sight made for a photographer and a greeting card,..but!

In life, there are always buts, and I’ve known my share of them. With pine trees come problems. For instance, when the ice and snow build up on the greenery it’s a marvelous spectacle until the limbs begin to break under the added weight. The huge limbs can rain down on you like brimstone, and the sound they make as they do will shock you. Think of the mixture of an explosion, rolling thunder, and your roof collapsing all at the same time. This weighty assault can go on for hours or days.

Another huge ‘but’, like seen on my aunt Bertha on my fraternal Grandmother’s adopted side of her husband’s make-believe family, is to never build a home beneath a thicket of pines. In fact, if you are contemplating doing so, relocate to any desert and hammer there instead.

In 1984, we built a house smack dab in the middle of pine trees and they blow!

Just today my best three-quarters asked, “Did you know that recently another one of your old friends died while cutting grass? Isn’t that about the fourth one you know in the past year or two?”

Yes is the answer to both questions.

Not only did she bring me bad news to start my morning, it came on the day I had chosen to cut the grass for the first time this season. Normally, my sweet brother-in-law would do the mowing for me since my swing has been off a bit of late. He’s a great brother-in-law and a fine dinner would have been purchased or grilled out for him to show appreciation for his hard work.

His help was not to be this weekend because there’s a scrunge going around the state, and our Rob was flush with it. He had been blessed with it last weekend and like the spring flowering plants it has kept giving.

The first cut is not only the deepest but the hardest as well. This grass clipping season would be the worst bloodbath ever.

You see, we have these damnable pine trees that spew forth their plethora of unwanted needles as the trees fart and barf pine cones by the bushels all over everything. Oh, did I mention their limbs break off easily? In the early spring, they also puke what we call ‘worms’ which produce god awful pollen. They really look like c-shaped worms of about one and a half inches long. Hanky anyone?

Today would see either number five laid to rest behind a push mower or the grass would see a haircut. Damned the luck! On the initial yank of the cord, the stupid mower fired up, and it ran as smooth as our housecat’s underbelly fur.

There was no getting out of it. In no way joking, I had stated to my wife, “Honey if I’m not back inside the house in n hour or two find the insurance papers before you call the ambulance.”

The number five has always been my lucky number, but this time around it felt gloomy or I should say doom-ish.

These damned pine trees blow!

Back at the lawn mower things were heating up.

By the way, did I tell you that today that the pollen count one baby step outside my doorway was around ten billion, and that it was global warming deja vu all over again. Add to this hay fever dust storm the fact that if it was under a hundred degrees Fahrenheit beneath any pine tree,  I’d kiss my aunt Bertha’s fat ass with your lips.

Death behind the mower sprang into my mind within minutes of either cutting grass, bailing pine straw with the aid of the mower or chopping a dozen cords of wood in anticipation of the impending ice age in Georgia. The trusty machine groaned. Or, was that me groaning and it moaning on?

Yes, I was dying with every mowed row. At least the one doing the cutting had some ethanol laden joy juice in its belly. On the other end of the handle, I was running on empty, and blubbering like the Whale I am. Everything was running, the machine, my nose, eyes, mouth, and baked brain. It was hotter than hell out there and old scratch had gone on vacation leaving me in charge to handle the waves of pollen that the mower spewed from its entrails.

The determination to finish at least one-third of the yards consumed my thoughts. It was as if I were young again and trying to think of anything other than what was at hand to maintain the flow and finish the race.

My chest and head were exploding with each turn of the single blade.

Approaching heat stroke, my brain screamed, This damned mower should have died by now. Why did it crank anyway? It’s been sleeping all winter. Why hasn’t the added ethanol in the unleaded fuel clogged the motor up?

The pollen count grew exponentially as wood was split, pine straw was chopped like cabbage, and the few blades of grass in need were shaved. My mind raced in multiple directions, but the first cut had whipped me. I gave up the ghost before the gasoline ran out. For the moment, I’ve survived, but if this head filled with pollen has its way, I’ll be checking out soon…five by five.

Today, it blew!

Ron Shaw

Copyright 2015

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8 Responses to Whale’s Tales

  1. Oh Ron, sympathies on the pine dilemma! As I child I loved pine trees and associated the smell with beachside holidays as the beaches in South Australia were lined with huge pine trees that provided us with shade and sounded wonderful in the breeze. But – a big Aunt Bertha but – in 2003 we were living one street away from Canberra’s biggest pine forest. The smell was divine – when you could inhale. That yellow pollen was worse than a dust storm! Couldn’t open windows or dry washing on the line or go for a morning walk. Even though we were a street away, the needles blew onto our back garden and suffocated it. We moved to the other side of the city – just before the 2003 fires. That pine forest fuelled the worst part of the catastrophic fires that wiped out 1500 homes, including the house we had just vacated. I have a different attitude to pine trees now. Your attitude. Right on, Sir Cetacean!

    • ronshaw says:

      Wow, Carole. That’s an incredible sequence of horrible experiences that you shared. The fragrance of pines is divine as is the melodic sound of wind whistling through a thicket of them, but as you well know, the yellow dust bowl from them in spring combined with the fall dying season are way too much to tolerate. Our builder for this house told us that we’d be sorry that we didn’t allow him to knock down all of the pine trees. He was absolutely right. They will work you to death if they don’t kill you first with the seasonal explosion of pollen.
      I’m sorry you related so well with my blog on it. I’m still suffering from the mowing dust bowl.
      Thank you for reading my blog and commenting on it.
      I very much enjoyed your recent blog, and your new book under construction sounds fascinating.

  2. Libby says:

    its amazing to me how much stuff these trees can dump in a year. I’ve been annoyed with the number of squirrels around these last few years, they seem to dig up everything and make a mess. But now I’m thinking if they aren’t around to do the job of eating acorns, pine cones, pollen and any number of other things coming off the branches – we’d be up to the windowsills with this stuff!
    Great writing Ron! I like your blog!

    • ronshaw says:

      Libby, thank you for reading my blog and especially for your comments. You have my condolences on the critters and nature’s mess from your pine trees.
      You should read my book MARY’S TRUNK where you’ll find a rather humorous chapter concerning the state of squirrels from year to year. I fear they’ve gone even more mental over the last few years. Their indecisiveness has grown exponentially, in my humble opinion.
      I very much appreciate your kind words. Hopefully, my writing is evolving, and I’m praying that it is improving…a little, at least.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Ron, This was too funny! My allergies took a hit just reading it. I thought for sure the heat of the lawn mower would set the sea of pine needles a’ fire! My eyes are tearing and burning at the thought of all that pollen. I love your expressions, and the visual portrayal they represent.

    Wonderful storytelling. You have solidly captured the humor within the opposing reality. A humor not afloat in the sea of pollen…but so easily identified with, and appreciated by, anyone who has walked in a mower’s shoes.

    A delight to read. I totally enjoyed it. Suzanne
    Suzanne recently posted…Every Child…Wins?My Profile

    • ronshaw says:

      Suzanne, that’s an excellent line “walked in a mower’s shoes.” That certainly describes me. Mowing grass is from the devil…I’m certain of that.
      Thank you for your comments. They are always very much appreciated and enjoyed by me.
      You’re a marvelous writer, my friend.

      • I thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Ron.

        Your story played in my head this week. We had so much “yellow” flying around, that by the time my husband washed our cars…it was back! I had to re-think opening the windows for some “fresh” air, after noticing a siege of yellow casting it’s heckling glow upon the furniture. : / However…given this past winter, I find a hint of joy in the sea of yellow, rather than the blanket of white that long-overstayed it’s welcome.

        To give you an idea of the snow’s persistence, my future son-in-law was on a work-site today and…lo and behold, they unearthed some snow!!! I cannot muster up an ounce of humor on that find. Only flashbacks of cabin fever. Today, I am embracing the yellow haze with just a sprinkling of gratitude.

        I have compassion for your braving the relentless pines, and their undaunted desire to share. We have our own plethora of pine trees, although not quite as generous as yours. They have amped up their production of pine cones the past few years, creating a mowing hazard as they fly hither and yon.

        I hope this finds you cooking up a nice barbeque for your great brother-in-law, and at a safe distance from the fiendish dance of the pines. It was not a total loss. The story you brought forth was worth the journey…at least from this end of it. Loved it. Write on! Be well, my friend. Suzanne
        Suzanne L Holko recently posted…Every Child…Wins?My Profile

        • ronshaw says:

          Suzanne, I appreciate you. Thanks for your comments.
          It rained hard here last evening, and I’m praying that it knocked out the rest of the yellow pollen. These pine trees will be the death of me.
          Stay inside and wait until the yellow dust clouds dissipate.
          I’ve posted another story to my blog. It’s one of those cop things. I hope you’ll read and enjoy it. It’s the truth and nothing but the truth, your honor. The defense rests.
          Nice to hear from you.

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