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Crazy Larry #1
05-26-2005, 01:06
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Uncle Ralph's

The trees are budding and becoming full of life with birds of all kinds and my feet are itching for an extended hike in the woods.

Normally at this time of year I would be someplace along the Appalachian Trail hiking to points unknown.

I have this happen to me every spring no matter where I maybe. Last year at this time I was in North Carolina and I just wanted to go, go, go. Responsibilities kept me from doing so. It looks like this year will be the same as I am now with my family basking in their love. And man do I have a loving family. They loved me when I could not even comprehend the word.

Looking back, I remember times in the spring with my dad as we headed to the river bottoms just southeast of Chetopa, Kansas. That's when my Uncle Ralph was alive and owned the homestead where my dad and his siblings were all raised for the most part.

We would go drop a line or two every now and then. Sometimes there would be other family members and a few non family members as well hanging about and chewing the cud, so to speak. That place is probably one of the most visited places in the United States. It's pretty, it's unique and it's awesome. And to this day there has been a lot of love gone into the place to keep it that way.

Every year the family has a family reunion on or around the 4th of July. I haven't been to one in years. And I don't know if I will go to the event this year? Depends I guess, on what I am currently into.

As a lad, while my father was stationed in Vietnam and I was enrolled here in grade school I would enjoy riding my bike or hiking down there this time of year to see my Uncle Ralph and cousin John.

Sometimes I'd ride my bike down there on the old river road that skirted the banks of the Neosho River. I wish the river never would have claimed that road, it was pretty cool going down there that way.

When I would take off on one of my many rides down that road I would almost always meet someone from some distant land that was fishing or either camping along the banks of the Neosho. They always had time for my questions and most of the time I would get a story from them or tell them one.

Some people and some family members at that time would say that I was notorious for telling long windy stories with no truth at all to them. And I'd say I would have had to agree with their analysis at the time but the fact remains I come from a family of story tellers with long windy tales that I'm sure was mixed with a bit of exaggeration also. As you can tell, I was well instructed at the time.

A person just cannot express in words a particular event, most of the time, with out adding their own unique way of telling it. And unless he or she is gifted with total truth, there's bound to be some untruth to make the story even better. In my opinion there is not a person around that don't like a long windy tale every now and then.

I never perfected the art of really telling a good long windy tale, but have been better writing one. Most of the time I would trip up in telling the tale some where along the way and that is why I would be called "liar, liar, liar, pants on fire...."

Yep, they'd catch me all the time.

Getting back to traveling along the old river road this time of year, or perhaps a bit later in the spring, there would be so much life abounding. Turkey, deer, doves cooing in the trees and a few buffalo would be roaming about too. Well maybe a few buffalo, or perhaps two, or none at all.

See what I mean about long windy tales? Ah gee, you liked that, didn't you?

I'll never forget all the honeysuckles that were scattered along the sides of that road, especially when you neared the bend that veered east to the road that turned south and went down into Uncle Ralph's place.

Hummingbirds were all over the place, sometimes flying right beside me as I rode my bike, flirting in and out of the trumpeted flowers that protruded from the vines that intertwined the fences or the brush that they clinged to.

Honey bees too! The nectar just premeated the air. Occasionally, as all young lads did back then, I would stop my bike, get off, pluck a flower to taste the nectar at the base and then pull the stamina out with my teeth and chew on it.

After a good rain the aroma was absolute ecstasy, as there were other wild flowers a blooming also.

One thing that grabbed my fancy would be the different mushrooms that were scattered in the shaded areas along the side of the old river road. There would be morels, which is a delicacy in most of the southeastern United States. And the fungi that grew off of the many dead logs and branches like "Chicken Of The Woods" which is bright yellow orange and shaped like big webbed hands stacked upon each other protruding from the cut or broken end of the log. The books on "edible stuff" in the woods say if you come upon it as it is just coming out, you can slice the edges off and fry them in butter and garlic and it will taste a bit like chicken, thus the name.

The aroma of wild onions would also fill the air. Today I like to clip just the shoots and chop them into a tossed salad, perhaps saute' them with some beef tips or even infuse them into a springy soup.

Back in North Carolina at this time of year ramps are springing up all over the place, which is an onion, only stronger. In May there will be many different "Ramp Festivals" where there will be ramp eating contests. I never have entered one of those contests. Sounds too much like heartburn city to me, amongst other gaseous explosions that might emit from ones bodily openings....

As you go south off the old river road that takes you to Uncle Ralph's, the road turns west and right there on that corner is where I would most likely encounter one of my uncles or cousins that were fishing. I might hang with them a bit, especially if they had caught a whopper of a catfish. I wouldn't stay too long though because I yearned to go hang out with my Uncle Ralph.

You should have seen it back then. There was "stuff" all over the place for a young lad to get into. It was better than the "Wizard of Oz" could have ever been. There were old vehicles along with bits and pieces of farm implements here and there. Uncle Ralph, had set in a circle, just off the porch from the side of his house, old tractor seats that were either welded to a metal base or nailed to a stump of oak or pecan where people could sit around and share tales of the past as they would sip on liquor. That always made the tales more windy. These seats were the old timey kind with the metal springs attached to the underside that acted as a shock absorber that rode on top of the plow that was pulled behind the horse or the mule.

Bottles of every kind from every era of these here parts were scattered about too. Some even had their own unique ecosystems inside with earthworms, spiders and other kinds of bugs. Maybe even a plant or two. Sometimes I'd peer into one and spot an elf riding a unicorn disappearing over a ridge of one of the many mountains that were of the land inside.

There I go again.....

Oh well. Uncle Ralph's was and still is a unique piece of land. And the stories of the past still hang in the air there when the family comes together to create even more stories......

Larry "The Wanderer" Riddle

Mr. Clean
05-26-2005, 05:58
You should go back on the 4th for the reunion and visit some of your old places. Say hi to the family and tell some long windy tales about the AT.

Crazy Larry #1
05-26-2005, 08:18
You should go back on the 4th for the reunion and visit some of your old places. Say hi to the family and tell some long windy tales about the AT.
I have moved back here now. But back when I was a drugging and drinking and being a general "badass" this is where I did most of my damage. And even though people have seen the change, bridges were burnt in the family.

In fact in this story you will notice that I had mentioned "my cousin John?" Well the story got published in a local bi-weekly here. John got very upset and we got into it.

He said "I don't want no one coming up to me asking me if I am your cousin! You ain't nothing but full of ****!" That hurt, because John is one of the "many" that I had few dealings with. I looked up to John my whole life! And that cut.

We were able to walk through it though and the air was cleared. We shook hands. The next day he came out of his way to say hello to me. Now that's cool.

You see, on the night of September 17, 2003 my whole way of thinking changed in an instant in the most profound spiritual experience I have ever had. After that I decided to go and face my past head on. I had some other spiritual experiences to aid me in that decision.

First and foremost was the fact that I was wanted by the law. That is all behind me now. After serving fourteen months in prison, I walked out a free man. I was facing 15-20 years! I have had all my rights restored as well, except for gun rights. That may come in time and I'm almost certain it will.

Then and now, it is time to face my family and those associated with the family. There are non family members here that I damaged as well.

It has been tough, it hurts alot of times, but already I am seeing some of the rewards. Heck man, I am living in the same house with my dad and mom and in my thinking that should never have been restored! People have started to actually wave at me! All the churches in town want me to be a member there! My dad is behind me 100%!
And I want more!

You see, when one burns a bridge, they not only burn the bridge they intended to burn, but many of the roads that lead to that bridge in either direction. In other words I not only burned the bridge between so and so and I, but their friends and immediate family members and cousins as well. My family too!

Take note.

Think before you do. There maybe pain between you and this person but watch what you say or do because you will be affecting a whole bunch of people who think the world of them. I got first hand experience.

Part of what has saved me was that I was awarded the gift of writing while I lived on the AT for three years. I would read all the posts in the shelter registers of the shelters I stayed in. Little by little I would jot my thoughts down and eventually I was filling a whole page, or two, with how my day went with a whole bunch of added bull crap.

One of the hikers that use to make me laugh when I read their posts was "Heald and Dog Wonder." I'd get a kick out of the way that guy could tell a story. I met him at TD in '01. He was hanging with a hiker babe by the trail name of "Norway." I think later she became one of the overseers of the The Blackburn Center.

But anyway..................

wanderer