A Not-So-Time In The Wilderness

by Curt Kovener

This is a not-so-pretty time in the wilderness. The brown leaves continue to blow about even after multiple raking, mulching and cleanup. The brown bones of bare trees offer little contrast or color to the drab hills and hollers.
The October pumpkins that made for a bright orange fall decoration outdoors are now looking like they are melting down with decay. They will soon be taken to the compost pile to continue their natural return process to the earth.
The robins have already eaten the bright red dogwood seeds removing even the tiniest tidbit of color from the landscape.
Even the birds at the feeder are dull colors of brown, tan, black, gray, charcoal; about like the black sunflower seeds they crave. Occasionally a red crown of a woodpecker or a cardinal will make an appearance.
Willow the cat, always outfitted in natural tortoiseshell camouflage, sits in the picture window watching the birds at the feeder.
About the best thing nature can do in December is a covering of snow. It accentuates textures of trees and covers up the drabness of the forest floor.
I first thought it would be some time before the ground became cold enough to keep any fallen snow white & frozen, but a couple of days with temperature barely reaching the high of freezing has changed all of that.
The South had some unexpected snow, but Southern Indiana had none…until Saturday morning.
Some flakes gently fell at the wilderness leaving a visible dusting on the icy edges of the lake. To compensate for the chilling view, I fetched in another load of wood for the fireplace.
About the only color to the wilderness is the white floof of Emma the Great Pyrenees as she roams the ridges, dam, lane, creeks and hollers. She considers it her job to keep us protected and all invasive critters off her property all the time including the seed stealing birds at the feeders that Willow watches. Barking and barking and barking, Emma vocalizes her warnings to all intruders real and imagined.
As a result, I  believe this Christmas season we will have a not-so-silent night and the only time all is calm is when Emma is asleep.

Wise & Wise Acre…Part Deux

by Curt Kovener

My long-time friend Joe Persinger and I share a number of similarities: singing and playing guitar, a career in the newspaper business, a fondness for wine, and sharing puns & corny jokes.
It is on that last quality I ask your indulgence and, perhaps you too, will gain some smiles from these intellectual bits of wisdom.
•No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
•If you don’t pay your exorcist, you can get repossessed.
•I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.
•I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
•Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
•When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
•When chemists die, they barium.
•I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.
•I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
•England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
•Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
•This girl today said she recognized me from the Vegetarians Club, but I’d swear I’ve never met herbivore.
•I know a guy who’s addicted to drinking brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.
•A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
•I got some batteries that were given out free of charge.
•A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
•A will is a dead giveaway.
•With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
•Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
•Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
•A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.
•The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine last week is now fully recovered.
•He had a photographic memory but it was never fully developed.
•When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.
•Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.
•Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.

That Fine Line Between Wise & Wise Acre

by Curt Kovener

(While the editor is working off too much holiday turkey, we reached into the Curt Comments archive for a repeat performance of this week’s column.)
Aphorism is a short, pointed sentence that expresses a wise or clever observation or a general truth. But sometimes it oversteps and one is viewed as a smart aleck.
•The nicest thing about the future is… it always starts tomorrow.
•Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
•If you don’t have a sense of humor, you probably don’t have any sense at all.
•Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.
•A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you’re in deep water.
•How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
•Business conventions are important because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.
•Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
•Scratch a cat and you will have a permanent job.
•No one has more driving ambition than the teenage boy who wants to buy a car.
•There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
•There are worse things than getting a call at 4 a.m. that’s a wrong number. It could be the right number.
•No one ever says “It’s only a game” when their team is winning.
•I’ve reached the age where ‘happy hour’ is a nap.
•Be careful about reading the fine print… there’s no way you’re going to like it.
•The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
•Do you realize that, in about 30 years, we’ll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos and a perky chest?
•After 60, if you don’t wake up aching in every joint, you’re probably dead.
•Always be yourself because the people that matter don’t mind… and the ones that mind don’t matter.
•Life isn’t tied with a bow but it’s still a gift.
•Politicians and diapers should be changed often and for the same reason.
•The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Sharing the Bounty…Even If It is Meager

by Curt Kovener

By now many of us are beginning to commence to initiate the preliminary cooking for tomorrow’s feast. Pitch-in dinners and family gatherings will be pretty much standard fare as will turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and desserts of pecan pie, persimmon pudding and pumpkin pie.
Some of us get wrapped up in the planning, preparation and management of the meal. Some of us get to deal with just the anticipation of all the good tasting food. And some look forward to the warmth a family gathering generates.
But throughout all the preparation, the gorging of our gut, the afternoon snoozes and the too infrequent thoughts of those blessings for which we are to be thankful, remember that there are some folks in our own community that lack family, adequate nutrition and those warm & cozy feelings we come to expect from Thanksgiving.
Single parent/single income households have a difficult time. Living paycheck to paycheck means that a major car repair or medical emergency can force a decision between paying the electric bill, gas bill or eating. Area seniors sometimes are overlooked during the holidays as extended families look inward. Sometimes it is difficult to be thankful when you are dining alone thinking that no one cares.
That’s sometimes where our local food pantry and the Crothersville FFA food drive have been able to lend a helpful hand of support.
The Crothersville First Baptist Church collects and stores away some non-perishable food to give to area families in crisis. The FFA provides Christmas food and fruit baskets to area residents whose holiday may not be as cheerful otherwise.
Whether you choose to do your part for the year-round food pantry or the local FFA’s holiday cheer drive, it really doesn’t matter. What is important is that we do our part to provide for those who may not be having their basic needs met and sharing a caring hand to those who may be forgotten this holiday season.
As you quietly unbuckle your belt after eating too much tomorrow, be grateful, count your blessings and think of how you might be able to share your bounty with others.
Non-perishable food and cash contributions are always welcome by both groups. Make a donation to either cause and you’re guaranteed to feel a little better, a little warmer, a little more caring going into this holiday season.
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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Most Intelligent Thing I Didn’t Say

by Curt Kovener

In the newspaper business, I occasionally hear, “ I was misquoted. I didn’t say that.” Frequently it comes after someone says something foolish or without sufficient thought, his/her words appear in print, and not wanting to fess up, claims the newspaper got it wrong.
It’s not an affliction unique to newspaper people. I suppose we all mishear, misunderstand and many miss the point entirely from time to time.
So for all you folks who have accurate hearing and photo recall, here’s a quiz of some all-too-familiar sounding quotes, and (before reading each following paragraph) you decide if it is correctly quoted.
•“Money is the root of all evil.”
Misquote. In I Timothy we are told “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
•“Pride goeth before a fall.”
Misquote. The book of Proverbs advises us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
•“Familiarity breeds contempt.”
Misquote. “Familiarity begets boldness,” according to Shackerley Marmion, who said it first.
•“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Misquote. Correctly quoted it is “A little learning is a dangerous thing.”
•“Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him well.”
Misquote. It was Shakespeare’s Hamlet who said at his friend’s graveside, “Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.”
•“Home is the hunter.”
Misquote. Robert Louis Stevenson originally said, “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill.”
•“To gild the lily.”
Misquote. From Shakespeare’s King John speaking about attempting to improve perfection he said, “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily.”
•“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”
Misquote. “It ain’t true, is it, Joe?” said by a young baseball fan to ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson, implicated in the Black Sox Scandal.
•“All that glitters is not gold.”
Misquote. “Nor all that glistens, gold.” wrote Thomas Gray.
You see how easy it is to foul up what someone else has said? Take a phrase that trickles smoothly off the tongue, mold, it shape it to your liking or purpose and say it long enough, you too, can misquote.
– – – – – – – –
“A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world.”
–Edmond Goncourt

Color Has Finally Arrived At The Wilderness

by Curt Kovener

Whether it is old school Techni-color® or new school 4K high definition, autumn colors are abundant in the almost area of Jackson County. For the geographically puzzled that the is area that is almost to Lawrence County, almost to Monroe County, almost to Brown County, almost to Bartholomew County and thus almost out of Jackson County.
While tens of thousands of leaf lookers crowded the streets and State Road 46 in Brown County, the autumn color has come to us in Almost.
The early morning and late evening sunlight intensifies the subdued hues of yellows, muted orange and vivid reds and they are all counter-pointed by some still stubborn green leaves.
The drive back the half-mile lane is an ever-changing panorama palate passing by sassafras to maple to oak to yellow poplar and the highlights of red bud, dogwood, and hickory.
The various oak trees that shade the house have been giving up their acorns. Out in the woods this is a quiet natural event. But in the domicile there is the 24-hours a day initial hit of an acorn on the shingles followed by a bounce or two and the audible roll down the roof before a moment of silence and another hit and bounce on the deck.
Leaves accumulate on the rear deck and hide the lurking acorns awaiting a non-shoed foot to step on them resulting in a mildly painful foot jerk reaction. And with shoes it can be like a dangerous walk on marbles. The broom sends the leaves and fruit of the oak to the forest floor and a momentarily clean deck surface.
But the process must be repeated in the next day or two.
Fall brings some passing through feathered critters to the wilderness. There were good-sized ripples on the lake and a stealthy investigation revealed some coots and a pair of wood ducks dining on acorns at the north shallow end of the lake. And as I have already told you, we have a lot of acorns.
Deer like browsing on acorns though they must be stealthy like I was as Emma the Great Pyrenees is outdoors protecting her territory from all intruders. Coyotes, turkey, deer and those illiterate hunters who cannot read (or comprehend the meaning of) No Trespassing signs all get a gruff greeting and a chase by Emma.
There is a bit of conflict between the wilderness pets. Willow the cat likes this time of year as her black and brown tortoise-shell fur is camouflaged by the fallen leaves. And that helps her as she awaits birds that come to feed on the black sunflower seeds we put in the feeder. She considers the bird feeder a baiting station.
The conflict arises when Emma sees those invading seed stealers and rushes to the feeder barking to chase them off. Much to the consternation of Willow the cat.
So I suppose it could be said we have a G-rated action adventure feature in high-def color with surround sound playing now at the wilderness ultra-wide screen.