Today I was asked "tell me about your childhood experiences with your father."
My dad is really one of a kind and our family never fit any mold, ever. My childhood was full of wild adventures that rode the thin line of legality, and certainly taunted practicality and good sense.
We moved from small town Michigan to backwoods Tennessee in time for my seventh birthday. My parents secured a small rural property and embarked on a life of self-styled farming. It was less small holdings and more the makings of a reality tv show titled something like "City Hicks".
Before we kids could believe our good fortune, we had flocks of chickens and other poultry, goats, and I even got my very first horse. But Jessica Blessings, the golden Palomino is not who I am going to tell you about today.
My dad had ambitions to further his feathered flock and to that end he caught several of the wild peacocks on our property, with a mind to trade them. They were gorgeous, and their calls at dusk floated down from their perches on the lower limbs of the trees around the barn. We were new to this farming thing, so instead of the proper peacock cages that protect the colorful tails of the male birds, we had motorcycle boxes which are long and narrow, but just not quite the right thing. I think he tied their legs with a rope secured to a brick. It was effective if not...appropriate.
We drove through the night, my dad, my brother and I, intimate in the cab of a small pickup truck. When we finally arrived at the livestock sale, we parked the truck and tried to arrange ourselves in the truck's cab, to sleep until morning. I had the unfortunate position of trying to coil myself in the passenger side foot space, interrupted by the gear shift.
It must have been about three in the morning when the dark was split by the crow of a rooster, and then another, and then another. The place became of cacophony of hoots and yodels, as all the male feathered creatures made their presence known. After doing our best to feign sleep, we started to crack up laughing. That eye-watering laugh session, the absurdity of sleeping in a pick up truck surrounded by who knows what animals in some country place, with peacocks in motorcycle boxes in the back of the truck...well I hope I never forget it.
When morning dawned we were outed as the city-misfits we really were, our rumpled and shamed peacocks secured by bricks outside their Kawasaki cages.
Dad said my brother and I could go explore, and we didn't need to ask twice before we were off, peering into cage after cage filled with a myriad of roosters, pheasants, guineas, goats, rabbits, and who knows what else! To this day I have no idea where we were. None at all. Mississippi? Alabama? Who knows.
My brother and I came upon a litter of puppies. I'm sure there were lots of dogs there, but I don't remember any others. These puppies were fat, and fluffy, with pointed collie noses, and triangle ears. We promptly fell in love, and headed back to the truck trying to find a way to convince dad to let us have one each, but realizing the answer would probably be no, or at the very best, maybe one puppy to share. We plotted and planned, the way siblings do when trying to wheedle the best result out of a reluctant parent.
Imagine our amazement when dad said yes! to both! We returned home to our little cottage in the country, each with an armful of warm fuzz. I still wonder what on earth my mom had to say to dad when we turned up with two dogs, and a mess of fancy roosters. The disheveled peacocks had been bartered for other feathered finery.
I'll never forget my dad saying "yes" to something that seemed so impossible, so unlikely, but that I wanted so much. Thanks Dad.