Thursday, November 28, 2019
Adventures in Babysitting
I never actually saw the movie. The real one, not the remake. I remember seeing trailers, and noticing that the movie seemed to feature that one chick who had been in Call to Glory.
I remember Call to Glory because it it promised a lot of cool fighter jet action and featured that one chick.
That one chick was Elisabeth Shue.
I'm not what you'd call a movie fan by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't follow the actors the way a lot of folks seem to. Nevertheless, and having never watched one of her movies and only seen her playing a teeny-bopper Air Force Brat in a television series set in the early 1960's I've always liked her. Got no idea what she's actually like of course, so it's better to say that I've enjoyed the two-dimensional appearance of the girl and some of the acting she did very early in her career. I'd have to say, given the above, that it's the appearance of the girl I find pleasing. Go figure.
As an interesting aside, for some reason I have memories of watching Call to Glory back in the early 1970's. According to the interwebz, though, it actually aired in 1984-85. The mind can do some interesting things with memory. That's what all of us old duffers say when dementia begins to take hold. I rather imagine I could figure out how to watch the whjole series on my phone and/or computer, but I suspect I will not.
Nevertheless, none of this is about that, exactly. So on with the show.
Yesterday, which featured zero blog posts here, began with a lot of promise. It was very, very cold. I'm talking -8 at sunrise. And it stayed cold, with the day's mean air temp a paltry +7 degrees. The skies were clear and deeply blue, and the landscape was blanketed in pristine snow, glittering in the sunshine. It was visually stunning and gorgeous, and my camera simply can't replicate the image properly.
There was a pesky south wind, which varied from 10-30 mph. It was actually bringing relatively warmer air up from Texas, or whatever those places down there are called, but it was blowing over miles and miles of deeply frozen snow, so it didn't feel particularly warm. At 30 mph the wind chill values plummeted to -26, for instance.
I know I'm yabbering on about the cold, but let me share one more detail. When I water the chickens, I draw a five gallon bucket from a hydrant located just outside the chicken compound. I carry the bucket into the coop and refill the heated waterer. It's just easier that way. The waterer only holds three gallons, so I have an excess to dump on the ground before placing the bucket inverted back atop the hydrant. Yesterday it wasn't quite cold enough to freeze the water before it hit the ground, but the bucket did retain a good half-inch coating of ice on the inside. So yeah, cold.
I headed out to check cows, driving the F-150. Why did I take the F-150? No real good reason other than it needs to be driven from time to time and shouldn't be abandoned in the garage for the whole winter. I drove it yesterday (day before yesterday as I keywritetype this) and it was a comfortable experience. The Ranger actually gets around better but is more cramped and utilitarian. Sometimes comfort is good. Of course all my tools were in the Ranger, so any fence fixing or other delights the morning would bring would mean an extra trip to either gather tools or switch vehicles (the latter, obviously), but that wouldn't represent a terrible burden.
Red and I whisked in and tooled around the pasture.
As promised (I think) in a video fro a couple of days ago, here's the "after snow" moving picture of the area near the main water switch clear down in the southwest corner of the Cederburg pasture. Technically the switch is located in the northwest corner of the south pasture.
So, pasture names. The Cederburg and Cheisa pastures have been in the family for generations but are still called after the former owners who my forbears purchased the land from. And way back in the days of black and white, the half-section South Pasture was the only piece of ground to the south of the home place, so it was and remains the South Pasture.
Red and I tooled around and everything was fine. Cows were eating plenty of dry but nutritional grass, the water was fine, and the freezing temperatures weren't bothering a thing.
As I departed the pasture and came over the rise toward the county road I spied a car stuck in the snow right at my turn-off. There was a young fellow trying to dig it out with his hands. He was dressed in only jeans, sneakers, and a long sleeved tee shirt. A more sensibly dressed young woman was standing on the porch of Ted and Alice's place, a modular home built on a small acreage. Their home is right across the trail road from where the car was stuck, so it was a good idea to knock. However, Ted and Alice work in town and no one was home.
I stopped to render assistance. The young fellow was all tatted up and had the nose ring, the big model airplane tires in his earlobes, and a half dozen or so bolts in his face. He wasn't shivering, which meant he was either tweaking (on the meth) or dipping into hypothermia. He seemed a bit dazed and his speech was slurred and barely coherent. He seemed to be trying to apologize for causing me trouble, but could I possibly mumble mumble mumble.
The young woman walked up. She was wearing a nice winter jacket. However, "distressed" jeans with gaping holes in the knees were probably not the best choice of attire, given prevailing meteorological conditions. And I hate to be judgmental, but the sandals were just wrong. In contrast to the boy, (boy because he probably wan't yet old enough to be considered a fellow) the girl seemed to be free of tattoos, model airplane tires, or bolts. She was in fact quite pretty in a very young, blond girl kind of way. The pair were to my eyes obviously a couple, and I thought -- to myself you understand -- "You sure picked yourself a winner there sweetheart!" The girl was shivering so hard she couldn't speak.
At this point I realized we we're flirting with a medical emergency. Hypothermia can go from bad to disaster in only a few minutes. I loaded 'em up in the F-150 and headed for the ranch house, only a mile or so down the road. Once there I got them wrapped in blankets, seated in the old people recliners with optional heat and massage, which came in very handy indeed. I also got thermometers in their faces. The girl's temp was 98 and change, so perfectly normal. The boy's temp was 93. He'd probably been no more than 10 minutes from collapse. While they sipped hot coffee they (mostly the girl) told me their story.
They'd decided on the spur of the moment to drive out in the country and look at all the pretty snow. Three miles down the Airport Road they'd decided to turn around and head back, but in turning they discovered that snow can often hide deep spots. As it turned out, they were actually brother and sister. Both from a larger town to the east, about 200 miles away. They'd recently moved back to Kimball, where they'd been born, to be closer to their Mom and to get away from the "bad crowd" in the town they were living in. The boy had recently been discharged from inpatient drug and alcohol treatment, and the girl had been fighting a losing battle to take care of her big brother and to fight the siren song of drugs and booze.
They both had smartphones, of course, but they couldn't call their Mom for help because she has a broken foot and they didn't want to scare her. They didn't know anyone else to call. So while the boy dug snow with his hands, the girl tried to knock absent people into existence. They were 22 and 23 years old, and were closer to death on a lovely bright snow day then they will probably ever realize.
At age 22 and 23 they're both legally adults. When I was that age I was doing all kinds of grown-up, responsible stuff. To be fair, I had a solid upbringing and an entire naval service to keep me coloring inside the lines. These two had a different story, and they were a lot more vulnerable than I like to see. Ducklings, really, enchanted by all the bright shiny stuff out there in the world and trying to learn to fly. Not really aware of how many hungry coyotes there are out there, or of how quickly their adventure can end for good.
My phone buzzed, and it was my friends the cattle owners who, on their way to feed their cattle, had come across the abandoned car. Did I know anything about it?
I left the boy and girl to warm up, while I took their car keys and headed back out into the beautiful day. Between myself and cattle owners we had the car out in a jiffy. I drove it to the ranch while one guy went in to feed and the other followed me while I delivered the car then drove me back to my pickup. The whole project took about 20 minutes.
In the time it took to rescue the car, the boy's temperature had rebounded to 96 and both brother and sister were feeling much better. I followed them home to make sure they got there okay, and they invited me in to meet Mom. She was very nice, and her home was spotless and clean. That didn't surprise me, because I knew her. She wasn't by any means a bad mom, but a divorce had made things tough for the whole bunch. She and the kids were very appreciative, and we all exchanged phone numbers. On a whim I offered to give them a 4WD snow tour of the ranch later in the afternoon, and brother and sister agreed with surprising delight.
Later, as we drove around, the pair did a lot of talking and I did a lot of listening. They both seemed hungry to unburden themselves, and they shared the tale of a rough couple of years.
When I returned them home it was with a couple of dozen farm fresh eggs and the promise to continue to be a listener if they needed one. For this I extracted their promise to call me if they get stuck in the snow again, or if they find themselves otherwise stuck in a tough situation.
Later in the evening I got a text from the girl saying how good the eggs tasted and how much she appreciated my assistance and my ear.
So today on this day of national thanksgiving, I find that more than anything else I'm profoundly grateful that I was able to be in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge and experience to stave off a disaster. And even more that I was able to extend the hand of caring friendship to a family of sovereign human beings. It was little enough that I did, but my efforts were rewarded at least tenfold in simply living the experience.
Today the weather is warmer but gray and quite nasty with a stiff south-southwesterly breeze. Snow is drifting like mad and the roads are an icy mess.
This morning's text from the girl: "Stay warm and tell the cows hi. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!"
Be well and enjoy the blessings of liberty.