Freckles continued to grow into a fine young stud, but that was the problem: he was a stud and became dangerous not long after puberty set in. I stayed around the place to tend to and enjoy him, still, but more at a distance than when he was sweet and liked to nuzzle my neck. Though he was a colt, he had a soft look about him, much more effeminate than Legacy’s. Her head was chiseled and masculine; her behavior was brash and aggressive at times.
Freckles’s head was more elongated and smooth, his demeanor started out as demur, but became more threatening as he asserted himself, bowing his neck and pulling up on his hind legs. He was just full of “piss and vinegar” (cliche) with all those new hormones raging through him.
Aside from his gender. Freckles further inherited his dad’s short stature and, over time, his long barrel. Where my little man had once been a joy to play and work with in the round pen, he was now hard to manage. It was time for a bit of a surgical procedure. I didn’t want to put him out to stud. If someone else wanted to buy him to do so, I would have taken it, but he had no flashy marking to draw such a buyer, even with his heritage. So, I took him to Bob’s to be gelded and trained for a cutting or show horse. Legacy didn’t mind losing him at that time. He had been driving her crazy chasing her and trying to jump on her. She only snorted and carried on a day or two when he left, then went right on grazing as usual, which surprised me. I wish she could have had a filly. Things would have turned out better for her had that been the case.
It was at this time I remember packing my RV to go to Disney World with friends when I received a call from Gail’s husband, Rod. He told me, “Gail fell.” I asked had she broken anything? “No,” he said. “She died,” in just that matter-a-fact tone. I think Rod was in shock. He wasn’t alone. Shelly and I immediately drove to their home in Pearland,Texas, Gail’s body was already gone. That was that. We never saw her again. She had an affidavit willing her brain be donated to science, but they didn’t want it. She would have been crushed. We cremated her. I don’t want to talk further about Gail until the next blog because she deserves one of her own. There was, obviously, no trip to Disney World.
After Gail’s memorial service, I flew up to my brother, Greg’s, in Seattle. He and his family took me to Mt. Rainier and Snoqualmie Falls. It was all breath-taking; I needed to be reminded that life was bigger than the sadness we had to endure with 9/11, Grandmother’s death, Mom’s death, and, now, Gail’s.
I had also been writing BeakSpeak, off and on, trying to work something out with Chuck’s wife, Debbie, for illustrations. Progress was slow. in the meantime, though still going back to the script from time to time, I took RV trips to Rockport-Fulton’s Goose Island State Park with my brother, Chuck, and to Crystal Beach where I landed this nice flounder. It was 22″. as I recall. Like Shelly, both Chuck an I loved to fish.
For longer RV trips, I had a cattleman I knew see to to the cows, his son, to my chickens and cats, and Claudia to Legacy. I went with three friends to Bull Shoals in Arkansas to fish and with two other to western Oklahoma to golf five courses up its western border, the most formidable of the five was Roman Nose State Park. To help your youngsters identify adjectives, please notice that the questions: which one, what kind, and how many are answered in bold print in front of the nouns they modify in this paragraph about the Roman Nose course:
The fairways of Roman Nose were often very steep climbs in places and had abrupt droops, as well. They challenged the gas-operated carts that chugged as they strained for balance. Sometimes, fairways ended at huge tufts of straggly grass and didn’t pick up again for several yards. You were expected to hit your stroke far enough and accurate enough to land your ball on a small circumference of luscious, deep-green grass, then from there across a craggy trench onto a blind green. Occasionally you would have only a chiseled, yardage sign with a arrow to point you the way to the green, or you’d be able to see the very tip of a red flag. That was the hardest course I’ve ever played in my life.
I also drove my RV in caravan to New Mexico’s Chama, Four Corners, and into Colorado’s Pagosa Springs. A different group of friends flew with me to Manchester, New Hampshire, where we rented a van and drove to Gloucester, Massachusetts, so i could visit the Crow’s Nest. It was the bar in which all the sword fishermen would meet to hire on to vessels, like the Andrea Gail, whose crew were lost in the Perfect Storm. I had taught the book to my freshmen students at the end of my career and had been obsessed with going ever since. Some of the ships rigging had washed ashore on Sable Island in the Atlantic. Wild horses still occupy that island, and I was able to talk to an old codger about both the horses and the crew that died.
We drove farther up the coast and stayed near Montpelier, Vermont, at the second home of one of our friend’s former student, whose husband was a doctor. We enjoyed the glorious colors, the beautiful landscape and the wonderful salmon we grilled up. Then it was on to Bar Harbor, Maine, with its stunning rock formations, light houses, and, of course, lobster rolls.
Of all the trips I made, though, the one I treasured the most was going back to Louisiana to see m cousin, ‘tite Sue (Sandra Babineaux), her daughter and my godchild, Josette Duhon, and my cousin Mike Theriot, when they gave us a family reunion. I hate it when you grow up and move away from the family get-togethers you had as children. I need to get back there before something happens to one of us
I finally finished the first draft of BeakSpeak, I thought, though I knew it needed editing, which I asked a neighbor, friend, and former elementary teacher, Ann Farmer, to do for me. It was a start. Meanwhile, I was still working on an illustrator.