Creek

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Creek: (n) a stream smaller than a river.

I’m sorry. That’s hardly a definition.

“Smaller than a river?” Isn’t that a rather broad category?

That’s not my recollection of a creek.

My memory of a creek is that if you waded in, it wouldn’t go much above your knees. The water, that is.

And there were so many rocks, fallen trees and leaves nearby that the flow was pretty brisk, a little splashy, and you could often see all the way to the bottom.

I was always taught that if you couldn’t see to the bottom of the creek or if the water wasn’t moving, you should probably not drink it. (This information was not given to me by a Native American or some scout hunting buffalo. I think it was my older brother, and I can’t count how many times he was wrong.)

But we had a little piece of land outside town that we owned, and we called our “farm.” It was a rather pitiful situation. My dad wanted to get some agrarian roots into our lives, so he tried to raise chickens, strawberries, some corn—and he built himself a little cabin in the nearby patch of woods, so he could occasionally escape, to play the part of Jack London “calling to the wild.”

Right next to that cabin, though, was a creek.

It wasn’t much of anything, but it was certainly shallow enough that every once in a while, when a fish got trapped because it missed a turn in one of the nearby rivers or got distracted from the reservoir—well, you could see it as clearly as if it were staring you in the face.

We had such a fish which I tried to catch on several occasions.

It was extremely odd. I could see the fish moving, imagine what it was thinking, but I still ended up frustrated as the fish stole my bait and wiggled away.

One day I came home from school and my older brother had an iron skillet on the stove and was frying up what ended up being a big fish.

I said, “Hey, Dan, where’d you get the fish?”

He laughed and replied, “You know that big ole’ fish that was in the creek? I caught it.”

I went to my room and cried.

I don’t exactly know the complete reason for my tears, but I imagine it was the mingling of getting bettered by my brother, not catching the fish myself, seeing it lay in the pan as an entrée—or maybe just knowing that my creek had lost its only friend.

 

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Construct

Construct: (v) to build or erect something

Four days until Christmas.

I sit in my home and look around.

In the corner is a beautiful Christmas tree. It’s perfect for our little abode. In my earlier years I was a purist.

A tree had to be located–preferably on a farm–chopped down by my axe, brought back to the house, set into a stand, usually crooked, with two or three match boxes under the legs to make it even.

I spent hours stringing lights, hanging tinsel and arranging ornaments on the extracted fir. I did not feel successful unless I personally constructed my Christmas funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
tree.

Last year I went to the store and found one that hooked together, and when connected correctly, had all of its lights and branches perfectly formed to create a glowing mass of wonder.

I also used to think I had to have my nose in everyone’s business, so it was clear to them that I cared and also that my influence was obvious. Now I realize that getting all of my personal work done, doing my writing projects and remembering where I placed my favorite slippers is plenty of labor for me.

I do not need to construct other people’s lives to satisfy what I have deemed to be a respectable life plan.

I do admire those people who have a knack for putting things together, but I happen to be one of those individuals who’s an enthusiast about things that are already constructed, and arrive in my presence in totality–ready to be enjoyed.

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Christmas Tree

Christmas tree: (n) a decorated tree at Yuletide

“If you want a tree, go get it yourself.”

That’s what my dad said when I was fourteen years old and asked him why we had not put up our tree as of yet, at Christmastime.

Normally the practice was to pick a tree and decorate it on my birthday–one week before Christmas. But for some reason, December 20th had rolled around and nobody had even mentioned getting one.

I was offended, disrupted, angry, bewildered, uncertain, out-of-spirits and generally and profoundly rebellious, in the most adolescent way possible.

So I complained. That’s what I knew how to do.

Since I had asked at least a half a dozen times about the tree, I felt it was time for me to object. he option provided for me by my dad was to go get a tree myself.

This was plausible because our family owned a little farm outside the town, where we grew some Christmas trees. So I had my brother drive me out to the location, grabbed a little hatchet and headed off through the snowy ground to bag myself an evergreen.

With my chubby legs and being severely out of shape, I was completely exhausted from the walk to the pines–ready to give up on my mission. After all, it wasn’t my fault. I was not in charge. If the damn family didn’t want a tree, then we should be treeless.

But the problem was, that included me–and I didn’t want to be treeless.

So braving the cold, little hatchet in hand, I found what I thought would be a good tree and began to whack at the trunk.

My hatchet had obviously been purchased by Davy Crockett when he went to the Alamo and not sharpened since. The first three strikes at the tree trunk didn’t even split the bark. So as not to bore you, I will shorten this story by telling you that an hour later, sweat pouring off my face, I finally got the tree to give up its roots and prepare to move to my home.

The trunk was an absolute mess. It was not a cut, but rather a massacre. But I drug it out, my brother and I put it on top of the car, and we drove it to the house. He kindly helped me saw the bottom off to make it even so we could put it into the Christmas tree stand. To add insult to my effort, it ended up being too tall. We had to cut off part of the top.

But eventually it sat in our living room, waiting to be adorned.

That evening when my father returned from working at his loan company, he stepped into the house, looked at the tree, and said to me, “Is that the best tree you could get?”

I didn’t respond to him directly, but in my mind I thought, “Yes. It’s the best tree I could get. Because this year it’s my tree.”

 

 

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Brook

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brook: (n) a small stream

About two miles outside of our little town, my dad bought a piece of land, where he hoped his growing children would be able to escape and get a sense of “farm” and fresh air.Dictionary B

It wasn’t large, and because it wasn’t tended well, it was usually overgrown.

But every once in a while I got an itch to go out and walk through the tall grass to a clearing where there was a high bank surrounding a brook.

The stream was not very impressive–probably about seven feet across at its widest place, and no more than a foot-and-a-half deep.

But it was usually clear–see right to the bottom.

One day I told my dad I was going to go fishing in the brook. He laughed at me, and explained that our little waterway would not sustain fish because there was no place for them to go.

After soaking my worm in the water for about an hour–to no avail–I realized he was right. I was about to give up when I sensed some movement in some nearby rocks.

It was a little fish.

I don’t know how he got there (or if he was a she). But he was obviously trapped, not knowing which way to go. Every time he swam forward he hit a rock, and every time he swam the other way, he bumped his nose on a stone.

He was literally caught between a rock and a hard place.

So for the next hour, I threw my hook and worm near him, hoping to draw the little fishie onto my rod and reel, so I could go back proudly and tell my dad he was wrong.

When the worm didn’t draw the fish’s attention, I attempted to reach in and grab him. He was very athletic and eluded my grasp.

I finally gave up.

I went to tell my dad to come and see the fish that was in our brook. He waited, puttered around, and finally made his way out to view my discovery.

The fish was gone.

I have no idea how that little blue gill figured out a way to escape his prison. But Nature always comes up with a plan.

Fish are not like us.

They don’t get frustrated, mad … and decide to hide out in their room.

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Bovine

Bovine: (adj) of, relating to, or affecting cattle.

I suppose I would feel differently if I grew up on a ranch, but during my travels, I was invited Dictionary Bby a gentleman and his wife to come and stay a couple of days on their farm.

Normally on these kinds of excursions, I try to express an interest by offering the extent of what I know about their occupation or lifestyle. I don’t do this to be a know-it-all, but just to get the conversation started, so they can ramble on a bit and be my instructors.

I feel it’s the least I can do for some good meat loaf and clean sheets.

But when it came to the realm of farming and the animals that inhabit the location, I was lost. Matter of fact, when my friend took me out to his barn, I walked in and felt as if I had just landed on a really bad-smelling planet.

Yes–barns do not sniff of hay. They permeate of shit.

But I endured.

First we walked by some horses. Honest to God, I would swear that those creatures stared at me as if to say, “What in the hell are you doing in here?”

Then we arrived at the cows. The bovines.

  • I was surprised at how large they were.
  • I was stunned by how indifferent they seemed to my presence.
  • And I was extraordinarily overwhelmed by the size of their teats.

I kind of felt like a little boy who suddenly discovered a Playboy Magazine–farm version.

I became completely befuddled when the farmer wanted me to reach down and pull on the protrusions to acquire milk. I can’t even describe the levels of squeamish that trickled down my spine. It was a combination of girly-girl “g-r-r-r-oss” and feeling like I was cheating some calf out of breakfast.

I will never forget the experience, because it is so typical of me as a person.

After all, it is much easier to discuss a cow in theory than have a face-to-face.

 

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Acre

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAcre: (n.) a unit of land area equal to 4,840 square yards

I don’t use the word “acre” much.

I once had a house near the lake which sat on one-and-a-half acres–considered to be a lot of land in its location.

Of course, it’s NOTHING in comparison to forty acres and a mule. That’s what each emancipated slave was promised upon leaving the plantation to begin a life of freedom. (Most of them are still waiting.)

It did make me think… forty acres are a LOT of turf. But I suppose if you had a family of four or five people, it would take that much land to plant enough crops to sustain one through the year.

My family owned a farm just outside our little town which was about four or five acres. (My brother recently described it as a “forty acre farm,” but I am quite sure that was embellishment  … or land envy.) But I do remember that the four or five acres was also quite expansive–since NONE of us knew how to farm, clear the terrain or maintain the surroundings.

I once thought I might like to be a land-owner, or baron. But after owning a home for a certain length of time and wondering if every creak would turn into a crimp, draining my bank account, I am not quite so eager to be an “acre taker.”

As I travel across the country, I drive by fields which are impeccably maintained by intelligent farmers who provide the sustenance for our country–and probably enough surplus to feed the whole world, if such a notion ever popped into our minds. Such magnificent technicians these farmers must be!

Because I remember–when my family tried to grow strawberries on about a half an acre, the sheer brute force of nature, in the form of weeds, pestilence and poor weather conditions, turned our little crop into scrub brush instead of quarts and quarts of blessing.

I am so glad there are people who understand “acre,” so that I can benefit from their wisdom … and buy my strawberries in containers at the store.

I hope someday I can assist them in some wonderful way. Maybe I could write an essay on planting or harvesting.