Happy Things

As I anxiously await Saturday morning, when I’ll pack the truck and point it north where the creeks are, errant thoughts roam through my befuddled noggin.

I think about the things that make me happy. There’s lots of them besides creeks, believe it or not! Top of the list is Suzie, of course, for how could I not love a girl who, among her many charms, loves creeks and hills and fly rods and puppy dogs?

The other things that make me happy are decidedly varied. The album (yes, I said album, because I am a throwback from vinyl) “Carolina Dreams” by the Marshall Tucker Band makes me happy. If you’re a MTB fan, or just a southern rock nut like me and don’t own “Carolina Dreams” you don’t know what you’re missing. Every track is a winner, and I can listen to it over and over again. Same for Boston’s debut album, the Best of the Allman Brothers and “Prime Prine,” the best of John Prine.

What? You never heard of John Prine? Not surprising, really. John has sort of a cult following, couldn’t sing his way out of a wet paper bag, but the man is pure-dee brilliant. John wrote, and even recorded himself, Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel From Montgomery,” which is one of the finest examples of his talent:

I am an old woman

Named after my mother

My old man is another child that’s grown old

If dreams were lightning

Thunder was desire

This old house would have burnt down a long time ago…

Great stuff, there. Get online and listen to “Sweet Revenge,” “Hello In There,” “Souvenirs,” “The Great Compromise” and the wonderful “Come Back To Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard.”

The yellow finches at Suzie’s bird feeder make both of us happy. I don’t get to see them enough, but just hearing her describe their antics makes me happy.

Empty clam shells at the bayou, when the water goes down to reveal them stranded there in the mud, make me happy. They are the abandoned homes of a mollusk of some sort, their white insides pearlescent, rainbows in a cup, shining in the sun.

Of course, water makes me happy. I can’t imagine being far from it. Living on Bayou Teche is something many people take for granted. I love living on the water. I may not walk down there for weeks at a time, but just knowing it is there makes me happy.

Little Debbie Nutty Bars make me happy. Way too happy!

Fine old shotguns make me happy. It’s not that I use them anymore. They harken back to a happier time, though. Even a bulky, heavy old Savage or Stevens makes me happy, because in it I can see myself traipsing the old cane and corn fields that used to be back of the Rez, looking for quail that were wild, not pen-raised. I never knew how good I had it, until they were gone.

The little crawfish tubes of mud that sprout up in the yard make me happy. Crawfish, you know, was commanded by the Creator to go down beneath the great sphere of water that was the world, and bring up mud. On and on crawfish worked, making the earth for us to live on.

Clouds at sunset make me happy. I don’t mind clear-sky sunsets, but clouds, when positioned right in the focal plane, are extravagant at sunset. Give me dimension and scope to my sunsets. That makes me happy.

Smothered liver and onions makes me happy. Keep your dissenting replies to yourself, please!

A requirement of every barbecue with one of my buddies is chicken livers. Take ‘em, drop them in a small pot. Administer Jack Miller’s sauce, a splash or six of beer, and a little Tony’s. Set it on the grill while doing the main course. They’ll be ready first, and eat them with a fork straight out of the pot. Sacre bleu!

Milk makes me happy. I’m allergic to it. Goes straight to my sinuses. Nonetheless, I drink about two gallons a week. Can’t help myself. Milk is wonderful stuff. And I don’t have a buncha sense, so there you go.

Puppy dogs make me happy. They’re all puppy dogs to me. From three-year-old Bogie to Daisy, our 14-year-old. There’s something eternally young about dogs. Find even the oldest, most decrepit of dogs, and you’ll still see the puppy inside. Maybe they can’t bound and jump and run like they used to, but the puppy in the dog never fades.

Someone once noted, “Lord, help me to be half the man my dog thinks I am.” In them, we find unequivocal forgiveness for any discretion; unconditional love; the very essence and definition of joy, and devotion. I am happy not only for the presence of puppy dogs, but for the blessing of having them in a world that could learn a lot from them.

Gene Hill, one of my favorite writers, probably said it best:

“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me – whenever, wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.”

2 comments to Happy Things

  • blufloyd

    “Hell we’ll hold out as long as we have to then we’ll twist off each other’s arms.”

    I too am a John Prine fanatic. It’s the Chicago thing. Wrote the second best train song ever.

    Have a great trip the water will be cold. Bring extra coffee.

  • Brad Pillaro

    I saw JP last summer at bonnaroo, gonna see greg allman this summer, also robert plant, allison krauss among many others . buffalo springfield is getting together for a one time reunion, gonna be a bon-ton Brad

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