Little Johnny hurried down the sidewalk. Catching his breath upon reaching his school bus stop, he waited and waited.
Soon his fate began sinking in. He had missed the bus . . . again!
The warm and sunny morning invited him to walk across the street to a park. Curious and feeling playful, he explored and enjoyed some spontaneous fun. Readin’ and writin’ and rithmetic could wait a spell.
Minutes turned into a couple of hours. Feeling hungry, Johnny discovered a perfect hideout under a nearby pine tree. He pulled out his brown bag lunch.
Following a quick lunch, he felt a bit sleepy. Fresh air, plenty of exercise, and a filling lunch made him drowsy. Curling up under the tree, Johnny was soon snoozing on a bed of soft needles.
Stirring awake, the noise of his rickety school bus shuttling down the street reminded him that school was over for another day.
Upon reaching his house, Johnny’s loving mother met him at the door. Her stern-looking frown told him to watch out . . . caught again!
Milt and I push his small rowboat into the lake’s calm waters on a sunny, early morning. Fishin’ is absolutely on our minds.
Milt’s boat has stood the test of time, and she definitely looks it. There are patches here and there, scrapped and worn paint, and even some mismatched planking on the floor.
Rowing the boat far from shore, we arrive at the very best place to fish the lake. The deep water covers the territory with the biggest fish around.
We both become quite involved with our fishin’ as we cast again and again, hoping to catch the big one. We fail to notice the threatening skies above. A mother-of-all thunderstorms appear heading for the lake, and we sit directly in the crosshairs of its vicious aim.
Before we can even think about rowing back to the safety of the shore, Milt and I feel the tiny craft being engulfed by the torrents of rain and the white caps of the charging waves.
Our clothes and fishin’ tackle become soaking wet in a few short minutes, and then the boat begins to list to the starboard side. She’s taking on water much too quickly.
Looking more anxious by the second, Milt shouts out, “Start bailin’ now!”
Watching my tackle box floating away, I yell back, “With what?”
Written in October, 2019, this story is based upon a true incident experienced by a close friend of mine. He actually did make a bow hunting trip into the mountains of southwestern Montana in search of an elk to fill up his freezer.
“The freezer will be full of meat this winter,” Pete tells his skeptical wife as he heads to the mountains for his annual elk hunting trip.
Montana’s Big Hole Valley offers some of the best elk habitat in America. Pete has been preparing for his fall elk hunting trip over the summer, and he plans to bag a large bull elk this fall to fill up the home’s deep freeze with delicious and tasty elk meat.
In scouting the mountains, Pete knows exactly where the elk will be when he returns for bow hunting season. Armed with his very effective and precise compound bow, he knows success is just one accurate shot away.
Hiking into the mountains, Pete stakes out a familiar area and waits quietly in the tall grass and brush. The anticipation builds as his body stays on high alert. The nervous tension only adds to the anxiousness of the hunt.
Suddenly, an enormous bull elk wanders through the trail, just as Pete expects. His position provides a nearly perfect angle and distance. He takes careful aim with his bow, pulling it back with careful precision.
Plummeting to the ground with a groaning thud goes Pete!
The arrow flies harmlessly into the trees. Pete’s shoulder has popped out, and the throbbing sting is excruciating. He rolls around on the ground in acute pain.
Deliberately and triumphantly walking past the stricken bow hunter, the elk looks down at him with a slightly confident look as if to say, “I guess your freezer will be empty again this winter.”
Autumn fills with sounds of cheering fans and the excitement of Friday night high school football games. We pick up the action with play-by-play announcer “Cato the Cat” Johnson as he calls the final seconds of the game between the undefeated Valley High Bulldogs and the lowly Vernon High Bengals.
Welcome back football fans as the undefeated Valley High Bulldogs are poised to garner their 10th division championship in a row. The winless Bengals of Vernon High have put up an incredible fight against overwhelming odds tonight, but their time in the limelight is about to be extinguished by the mighty Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs are poised to add to their lead with the score at 7-2. The stingy Bengals have only yielded one score, and its defense has scored their only points with a safety back in the first quarter.
From the Bengals’ five-yard line, the Bulldogs are facing a second down and goal. They line up in their favorite power run formation. The ball is snapped. But wait . . . fumble!
The Bengals have recovered! Oh my, what a turn of events. However, the Bulldogs still hold the lead, and the game clock only shows enough time for one more play.
The Bengals face nearly the entire length of the football field—95 yards to be exact. With only one more play, it appears their woeful season will end on another sour note. At least the marching band has performed quite well this season.
The Bengals line up in a spread formation. The Bulldogs’ defense sets up in a prevent mode. They only need to stop the Bengals here, and their string of championship crowns will continue.
The ball is snapped. Instead of passing, the Bengals hand the ball off to their speedy halfback Kurt Warner. With a power sweep to the right, the Bengals are pushing the ball up the sideline. There is a phalanx of blockers in front of Warner.
Only two players stand between the Bengals and a touchdown. One blocker takes out a defender, and Warner fakes left and hustles right, leaving the last tackler humbled on the ground.
Nelson is on his way . . . to the 30, the 20, the 10 . . . touchdown!
The Bengals score, and the game is over. Vernon High 8, Valley High 7.
Oh my football fans! We have seen an incredible finish for the ages.
Life isn’t always as basic as a seemingly simple high school football game. Just as Vernon High comes into the game as a hapless underdog, Jesus Christ is perceived to be a loser and an underdog when he is taken to Calvary and a cruel Cross. Football fans underestimate the resolve of the Bengals, just as people underestimate Christ’s real purpose.
The Vernon High team experiences an unbelievable moment, but it pales in comparison to the stunning moment when Jesus’ followers find the empty tomb.
I think of myself as the “Top Cat” around this house. Mr. and Mrs. Wynter brought me home from a shelter about two years ago. They love skiing up on the big mountain, and they adore their cats even more . . . with one exception.
Me!! Yes, you got it. I always seem to be in trouble around here. My female cousins, Sky and Birdie, are treated like royalty. Can you imagine two cats being treated like a pair of princesses?
Well . . . I want to tell you my side of the story.
My given name is Revel, which isn’t such as bad name. While Sky is sometimes curious and Birdie is shy, I love the adventure of roaming and exploring the house.
A few days ago, I was in the garage with Mr. Wynter. He doesn’t seem to notice me as I glide along the garage door rails high above the floor. I can be quite the acrobat while walking this tightrope.
I enjoy chasing and teasing my cousins, especially Birdie. She is so timid, but she doesn’t seem to mind it when I am pulling a chunk of hair from her back. I have a cool collection of her hair stashed under the bed in the spare bedroom. Mr. and Mrs. Wynter haven’t vacuumed there for months.
Sky likes to pull open drawers in just about any room. I encourage her to open as many as possible. When she’s finished, I move in and pull objects out of the drawer with my mouth. It’s so much fun to leave a mess in every room of the house.
When Mr. and Mrs. Wynter eat dinner, I join them by jumping up on the dining table. They become easily annoyed with me so I have to be quick to jump back down to the floor. It’s sort of like playing “cat and mouse.”
Last week, I helped Mrs. Wynter do some baking. When she would turn her back, I would jump up on the kitchen counter. Have you ever seen a cloud of sifted flour float through the air?
It seems that everyone in the house has grown tired of my adventures. They call it mischief.
Oh my! The life of a “Top Cat” needs to be an exciting venture.
Last night, I climbed up on a bookshelf high above the master bedroom floor. There was a pot with a houseplant in it. I just couldn’t help myself. I pulled and pulled with my teeth and claws until most of the plant and dirt flew out and landed on the bed.
I guess I may have gone a bit too far this time. Mr. and Mrs. Wynter have been dressing me today in a prison outfit, complete with black and white stripes. I look more like a convict instead of a “Top Cat.”
Snickering at my unfortunate circumstances, Sky and Birdie now call me Rebel.
My youngest daughter and her husband provide a home for three rescued kittens (now full-grown cats). Revel, Sky, and Birdie enjoy their new home. And yes, Revel does have his moments. The photos of Revel were taken by my daughter.
Police issue an “All-Points Bulletin” in a flash. The local jewelry store has been robbed by an elderly man dressed in a white suit. Patrol cars frantically scurry here and there—no luck!
Detective Joe Friday joins the hunt. His crime-solving skills are legendary. He always reminds each interviewee, “Just give me the facts.”
Driving down a quiet residential street, Friday spies a white ice cream vending cart on a corner. Selling ice cream treats to the neighborhood children, the gray-haired man hands out love and more.
Pulling up behind the cart, the renowned detective surveys the scene. Calling on his car’s radio for back-up, he knows he can’t wait. The last of the children walks away with their frozen, sweet treats.
Approaching the man in the white suit, Friday pulls out his gold detective shield. With a confident voice and a smile, he asks, “Do you happen to have something ‘hot’ on ice today?”
I have been living with my aunt and uncle for a few years on Mockingbird Lane. While I love my family a great deal, I must admit my life has been much too challenging at times.
I always feel frustrated at being the “plain” person in the family. I pretty much look like anyone who walks by our house, but I am sure people talk behind my back when they see the rest of my peculiar family.
Uncle Herman once greeted one of my dates at the door. When I came downstairs to meet him, he had rudely disappeared. I guess he felt overcome with fright upon seeing my uncle who stands over seven feet tall.
Aunt Lily, who is a devoted wife, enjoys preparing pancakes every morning, but I seldom have an opportunity to eat many of them. My uncle gobbles them down faster than she can cook them.
Grandpa is a gentle soul who enjoys telling stories about the good old days in Europe. I think my ears have heard every story at least three times over from this “past his prime” storyteller.
Cousin Eddie is quite a bit younger than I am. He is still in elementary school, but he misses a whole lot of school because he sleeps in each morning after a full moon. He wakes up at midnight, and he isn’t sure if he wants to howl at the moon or go in search of some red, bloody meat in the refrigerator.
As you can see, I don’t quite fit in with this family. I almost always have to walk to school by myself because all of my classmates walk on the other side of the street. One morning, they fled when they saw my uncle catch a ride to work in the company car (a hearse). He crawled in through the back door and lied down in the back.
I appreciate you listening. Please stay for a bit longer as I have several more grievances to discuss.
Uncle Herman has a steady job with Gateman, Goodbury and Graves where he works as a grave digger. Being big and strong, his employer appreciates his excavation skills. But for a mature man, he still melts down with childish temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Good grief!
Aunt Lily and Grandpa stay in touch with relatives who still live in Europe. I sometimes dream of traveling there until I realize that they both have ancestors back in Transylvania. Yes, you got it! They are both vampires.
Eddie is a creepy juvenile delinquent, and his appearance scares everyone away. Who would want to play with a boy who is half vampire and half werewolf? I rest my case.
My naive uncle took me trick-or-treating a few times when I was younger. People loved his costume, but they became fearful when he would want to shake someone’s hand. They would freak out upon seeing all of the “real” hair on the back of his enormous hands.
Oh, I almost forgot. My uncle traces his family tree to Germany, and he is a close associate of Dr. Frankenstein.
So if you see me walking along the street in the neighborhood, please don’t run away. I would love to find a few new friends. All of my old ones are too scared to come around anymore.
“The Munsters” was an American sitcom back in the mid-1960s. Even though the show only aired 70 episodes, it gathered quite a following when the show went into syndication. By the way, Marilyn Munster did look like any normal, young woman with her blonde hair and modern dress.
Kayaking the whitewater on the West Fork of the Stillwater River seems like an easy adventure to enjoy for Pete and his pal, Bill.
Bill, the daredevil of the twosome, pipes up, “What can be so tough about navigating this river?” The duo has spent many hours on the water back in Billings at Lake Elmo, a serene and small lake at a city park.
Now traveling to the Beartooth Ranger District of Montana’s Custer National Forest, the two men figure they can comfortably kayak the Stillwater as well.
The adventurers arrive at the river, and they have never seen whitewater turbulence quite like this. The river is running fast as the thundering rapids bubble with extra amounts of energy splashing off of the numerous, large boulders in the channel.
Thinking to himself, Pete looks with a bit of apprehension upon the scene, “This might be more than we bargained for.”
Bill looks ready to take on anything, and soon the adrenalin rush consumes any nervousness left in the kayaking tandem.
Both men are equipped with helmets and wetsuits, and each will be piloting his own kayak for the next few miles.
A harrowing journey awaits the two river crusaders. Their eyes grow bigger with worry as they pilot around blocks of stone in the water. The spray from the fast-moving water hides some of the other dangers . . . concealed tree snags and submerged rocks. Occasionally, tree branches reach out into the river from the bank.
Paddling and steering their small crafts, the men try to allow the river’s downstream current to propel them along. Soon both men realize . . . much too late . . . the Stillwater reminds them of who really is the one in control.
Just missing another oversized boulder, Bill flips his kayak over and then pops back up above the river’s boiling, frothing surface. His “Evil Knievel” eyes are filled with fright. He thinks to himself, “This ain’t Lake Elmo!”
Pete dodges a series of low branches near the far shoreline of the river. He overreacts and dumps himself upside down into the river as the kayak takes him for a short submarine ride. He loses sight of Bill as his kayak returns to the surface, minus his paddle.
Eventually, the tired and haggard pair of kayakers stagger to their destination, pull their battered kayaks out of the river, stumble into their pick-up trucks, and cautiously drive over to the Cowboy Bar and Supper Club at Fishtail. As the humbled duo walks into the restaurant for a quiet, relaxing meal, Pete is heard to say, “Lucky we made it!”
While I have never used a kayak, I have floated a few rivers. However, they seem quite tame compared to the energetic Stillwater River. The story is pure fiction, but the locations are “real” Montana places. Here’s a short video clip of kayaking on the Stillwater. Enjoy!
Pete visits the local movie theater one night to catch one of his favorite animated films, “The Road Runner Meets Bugs Bunny.”
He hasn’t been to the old theater for several years because he is usually in bed early each night. He’s pleasantly surprised to find the old, uncomfortable chairs have been replaced with loungers.
The film begins promptly, and Pete finds an extra comfortable lounger smack dab in the middle of the theater—a perfect seat! He places his extra-large diet cola in a convenient cup holder while holding a jumbo tub of seasoned, buttered popcorn on his lap.
The film continues for the next 90 minutes or so, and the theater is filled with hilarious laughter except for one patron. As the movie ends, the house lights are turned up, and the audience exits.
A young usher walks up to Pete, still snoring and catchin’ some winks. His popcorn is scattered all over the floor as the tub has fallen from his lap.
The boy taps him on the shoulder, “Sir, the movie is over.”