Green, Green Grass… or not

Heavens to Betsy!  American Idol did such a good job with their farewell finale this week.  Watching the parade of 15 years of contestants, winners, judges, and others carried me back in time.  When my son was young, he and his dad and I faithfully watched that show through several seasons.  We would each pick our favorites and dutifully vote.  The show, the contestants, and the silliness of the judges helped bond us to each other with a simple thread of pure enjoyment.  Congratulations, Trent Harmon, on your big win last night.  Congratulations, LaPorsha Renea, on your almost-win (you’re still a winner).  And thank you, American Idol, for being such a pleasant, positive diversion for so many and for so long.

Music is magical.  I think it’s one of the few places you can get away with hearing what you want to hear, seeing what you want to see, feeling what you are able to feel… and, with a really good song and a bit of luck, to go a little beyond.  Talented musical artists can weave such a spell that our spirits are carried to places normally out of reach for the simple human form.  Lofty places of pure love.  Lowly places of stark desire.  Murky rooms disguising our shady sides.  And mountaintops from which truth and lies mingle and ring, resonating in each unique heart like breath on a mirror.

I have to wonder, though, am I the only person who listens to a song and selectively hears just the good stuff?  The only one who doesn’t register the dark notes often lurking behind soulful sounds… the double-edged slice of razor-soft lyrics?

Visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Pennsylvania, I came across this gorgeous farmer’s field of young, green grass on one of our dog walks.  You can’t tell from the photo, but the wind is blowing through it such that it appears as if each blade has plucked up its rooted skirts and is racing its neighbor across the field.  A million, billion grassy blades moving in one endless, synchronized sweep.

The beauty of that image got me to thinking about the song, “Green, Green Grass of Home” (written in 1965 by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.), especially since visiting family makes me feel so at home.  So I took a few pictures and googled the song before writing this post.  I found the Tom Jones’ 1967 version on YouTube, which I highly recommend watching.  Hubba hubba!  No wonder that fellow had ladies throwing their panties onstage to him over the course of decades!

Intending to quote some of the song’s lyrics …

“Down the road I look and there runs Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries”

… imagine my shock when my research  brought me to good old Wikipedia and its discussion of the last stanza.  Spoiler alert for anyone too young to care or too oblivious to have noticed.  It turns out that the song is about a fellow on death row who is singing about returning home to be buried in that green, green grass after his execution!  Yikes!  Who knew??  What did he do?  I need more info…  Did he murder Mary?  Is that why she was running???

I must have heard that song a hundred times over the past 50 years.  And I never heard the dark side.  I didn’t even hear it when watching the Tom Jones video last night.  I had to have it spelled out in black and white and then slapped upside my head with a branch of the old oak tree.

Talk about dense.  Or maybe I simply possess my fair share of that uniquely human talent for wrangling a rock of absolute truth out of shifting subjective shadows.  I suppose that’s not such a bad thing.  Until you realize the grass is rooted.  Mary might be dead.  And even American Idol couldn’t forestall the inevitable.


When we left Tennessee last fall, dozens of stinkbugs hitched a ride out with us.  I’ve been scooping them up and tossing them out the windows and doors, from Tennessee to Virginia to Florida and now, five months later, in Texas as well.  I hope the Department of Agriculture or the Bug-Cops or whoever cares about transporting wildlife across state lines doesn’t read this post.

There was a man at the campground where we acquired our troop of stinkbugs who wandered around his rig all day with a fly swatter, smacking stinkin’ bug after stinkin’ bug.  They don’t release their stink unless they are smashed…  What a silly.  Meanwhile, he was totally oblivious to the beautiful river flowing just steps away and to the many neighbors open to friendly conversation beyond his constant complaint of those hateful critters crawling over his RV.  For each stinkbug he took out, another one or two simply stepped into its place, probably attracted in all innocence by death-odors from dearly departed fellows.  Talk about futility.

One of the camp hosts took care of the stinkbug population in the office by popping them into a water bottle.  They aren’t good swimmers.  Enough said.

Beyond the fact that their smush-stink really does stink, I’ve never been comfortable killing these little guys.  It is one of the few bugs that I can easily scoop up in my hand with no creepy-crawly hesitation.  They are almost cute.  Brimming with a tenacious gentility, they are harmless until smushed, and then they simply turn mildly offensive.

Just look at the picture of Renaldo at the top of this post.  A delicately patterned shield armors his back as he toodles around my walls and ceiling, occasionally taking awkward flight, but usually polite enough not to buzz me as he passes by.

I miss him.

Dawny tells me, “Seriously, Mom, it’s time to get a bigger, better, more time-consuming hobby…  Are you really mourning a stinkbug???  A stinkbug that you’ve named???”

Yes, I am.

For some time now, our stinkbug stowaway population has been dwindling.  The last few weeks, we’ve been down to just Renaldo–or at least that’s the way it seems.  I would toss him out, and a few hours later, or maybe the next day, he would reappear.  I began delaying his eviction, fearing that he might not come back, and then what would I do?  I was becoming strangely attached to the little fella.

Renaldo’s company was particularly appreciated last week during our harrowing drive out of the flood-ravaged border area along I-10 from Louisiana to Texas.  Normally, we would be long off the road by sunset, and I certainly would never choose to drive with the sun setting right into my eyes.  Well, there we were, trying to navigate around Beaumont, Texas with a giant orange ball of fire drifting back and forth across my windshield, up and down between my visor and my dashboard, while traffic buzzed all around us.

Enter Renaldo.  Sweet, simple, calm as can be.  Renaldo.  There he was, walking across the face of the sun.  Not a care in the world.  Enjoying the view, sensing the warmth on his belly, on his way to who knows where.  No concerns other than whatever task he had on his little mind.  Walking across the sun.

It calmed me right down.  Reminded me to breathe.  Deeply, normally.  Allowed me to loosen my grip on the steering wheel just a tad, the tension now counterbalanced with the gift of a smile.

Two days ago, annoyed to find him walking on my bedspread–really more afraid that I’d squish him in the middle of the night–I tossed Renaldo out the door.  And he hasn’t come back.  Sad face.

Maybe he will return before we leave in a couple of days to work our way back north.  If not, then I hope he finds a little community of Texan stinkbugs to hang with.  He can impress them with his worldly ways–having traveled across ten states and one star in his tiny lifetime–and they can impress him with their cow-wrangling abilities.

Speaking of cows…  Just remember, Renaldo, if you want to fit in here, you’ll have to learn to talk like a Texan.  Coyote is not a three syllable word.  Do not, I repeat, do not say Ki-oh-tee.  You’ll be laughed outta the tree.  It’s cow-oat.  Slurred together into one slow-rolling, muddy syllable.  Cowww-oat.

Toodle-oo, toodle-on Renaldo.  Travel safely, be content, and watch out for rising waters.

Maybe You Can Grow . . .

Things are going well here in Florida.  So well that I’m just sort of floating along and don’t have much of anything to say.  I won’t let that stop me from posting a little something anyways.

In looking through my writing journals, I came across some notes I wrote after my post “And Remember, Love is Not . . .” (June 14, 2015).  I had a dream the night after posting that.  It went like this:

I was in a terrible rainstorm, and bad guys of some sort were coming!  I fell as everyone around me started to run for home, for safety.  My dog grabbed my shirt and pulled me all the way home.

When we arrived home, he wasn’t my dog.  He was a dwarf man.

I thanked him for saving me and I said, “I love you.”

His face lit up.

I quickly corrected myself:  “I don’t love you in that way.  I love you as a friend.”

His face stayed lit up.  “Oh, that,” he said, looking up at me.  “Today as a friend, tomorrow, who knows?  If I wear the right shirt and the right pants, maybe you can grow…  Oh no, don’t grow!  Maybe you can begin to love me yet another way.”  And everybody laughed, including the dwarf man.

Silly, huh!

(Above post is so nonsensical that I wasn’t going to post it until I stumbled upon the most lovely gnome in Jean’s garden, here in the RV park where we both reside for a time.  She let me take some pictures and the rest is now recorded, for better or for worse, in cyber-history.  Thanks, Jean.) 🙂