First, the cottonmouth. Then, the scary "skunk dog" my children were certain would eat them alive! And last but not least, the 18-wheeler crash. All this, in just one weekend's time on our family's land.
It's called the GJ Ranch, and it borders the Ouachita National Forest. "G" for Gene, my precious grandfather, and "J" for Joyce, my darling grandmother. They worked this land until they died several years back.
It's heaven on earth there. Really is. Nearly a thousand acres of forest, streams, wide open space, and stunning views of Mt. Magazine. God's country. One of my peaceful places on this earth.
It's also wrought with the fury of nature: snakes, coyotes, hoards of mosquitos and chiggars, and the random sounds of various animals in the night letting you know you are most definitely not in the city and most assuredly not alone. But as Helen Keller once said, "..life is either a great adventure or nothing." So I've taken my children there since they were babies. They love the horses, they love packing a lunch, and they love buckling into the 4x4 mule and riding into woods.
Saturday, my cousin was driving and boy child spotted it first and screamed "A SNAKE!" Sure enough. Giant cottonmouth, yards from my children. Being the tough-guy I know and love, sweet cousin shot the snake and gave my little love bug the bullet. He told my boy, "because you spotted that snake first, you get this bullet." Son's jaw dropped to the muddy bottom of the mule.
Baby just girl kept saying .."Mommy, mommy, it's the first time I've ever seen a snake in the wild!"
Thank the heavens, the fates, God, and the universe no one was bitten or hurt.
Sunday, we headed out in the mule, just me and my babies, for a picnic by the stream. That's when we were followed. Not by a creep, because there just aren't a lot of people in this area of the world. But by a giant dog, taller than my kids. We recognized him from a month or so ago when he reeked horribly of a skunk, and the children quickly squealed, "It's skunk dog! Drive faster momma. Get away from him!" I tried, but that darn dog followed us all the way to the stream. Girl was terrified. But then, boy started to pet him and realized, albeit slowly, skunk dog was kinda nice. And he didn't really stink at all anymore.
In fact, by the end of our picnic, "skunk dog" was a friend, splashing in the stream with us all.
(note the THREE dogs between each child in picture on right)
Beautiful evening and so relaxing. That night, we got back from the stream, built a fire, and made s'mores. We could hear the coyotes howling in the background. The kids thought it was so cool, but the dogs went nuts. I drifted off to sleep so very grateful for such wonderful adventures. I slept so hard, always do out on our land. And then *BOOM*
It was morning, and we thought the house exploded. Baby girl screamed. My mom screamed. We all went running outside.... to this.
An 18-wheeler literally crashed into the ditch in front of the house on our land. Tires everywhere, busted concrete and a crashed-up truck. Kids were beside themselves. I was shaking. Truck driver's nose was broken. We welcomed him in and got him wet washcloths and bandages and a landline to make his calls. Poor guy told me he saw his life flash before his eyes when the tire blew and he lost control. Thank goodness he's okay.
Life is so random, isn't it? Not worth trying to figure out. Don't you think it best to take the ride and welcome the adventure? I'm so grateful for it all. The good, the bad, the ugly. The laughter, the sorrow. All such delicious, rich stories that one day will make up a good, well-lived life.
I read a lovely quote the other day. Reminded me of our weekend inconveniences. The snake, the skunk dog, and the crash.
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” ~ G. K. Chesterton