There’s something about December…
How can I not love the month that gives us:
My birthday! (Chocolate cake every year I can remember. And, this year, genuine Chicago deep dish pizza, from the loving arms of UPS.)
Hanukkah! (Eight nights of gifts every year of my childhood, from the loving arms of my parents. And, this year, more Chicago pizza.)
Christmas! (The tree, the caroling, eggnog every year since I became an adult. And, this year, no pizza but the wonderful opportunity to communicate via this space.)
Cold weather! (Colder than any month but February at the least. Icy nasal passage cold in years my shiver-friendly self gets lucky.)
And, this year, an added bonus in the form of a healthy Gwen the Beautiful.
I haven’t written about Gwen’s medical problems lately, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had them. Especially over the last six months, when she was wracked with stomach pain that got so bad it was impossible for her to eat.
Lost 20 pounds the last two weeks of November, my wife did, and no one could figure out what was going on until a terrific M.D. named Simmy Goyle, currently residing in L.A. but formerly of London, New Delhi, and St. Louis, put us in touch with another terrific M.D by the name of Peter Warner, who practices within two hours of Paradise in Springfield, MO.
Shortly after my birthday, Gwen was hospitalized and Peter put her through a battery of tests showing that even though Gwen’s specific symptoms were unusual, the cause was an underachieving gall bladder, swollen, and up to no good.
Out came the insidious organ, and in came the December—Larry B’s Birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas, cold weather—miracle of no pain and edible meals for Ms. The Beautiful.
To misquote a Disney song I used to hate, “It’s a whole new world” for the Brodys.
And we’re not the only ones here on The Mountain affected that way.
A lowlight of this past year was the sudden and unexpected death of one of our horses, Rosie the Romantic Arabian, while Gwen and I were away on the other side of the world.
For weeks, my horse brother, Huck the Spotless Appaloosa, was deep in mourning. How bad was his depression? Well, from the looks of him he lost a lot more weight than Gwen did. I’d estimate about ten times as much.
He’d been alone in the corral — with a few side trips into our backyard and some interesting attempts to climb onto the porch — since mid-October, and a Huck who’s alone is a very noisy Appaloosa indeed. He would complain loudly and angrily, and then stop to listen oh-so-closely for a reply he clearly was hoping would come from the distance, from his lost mate.
So when Gwen and I drove back up to Cloud Creek Ranch after her surgery we were surprised to see the big guy standing calmly in the center of his area instead of galloping straight to the fence to horse-yodel his usual welcoming demand.
We were used to, “You’re home! It’s about time! Rub me! Nuzzle me! Brush me! Okay, yeah, you can feed me too!”
Instead, we got a little nod and a flick of the lips that I know (because Huck and I have been together for almost all of his life) is a smile.
“Look at that!” Gwen said. “Look at them all!”
I stopped our pickup at the top of the trail we call a driveway. Counted not one, not two, not three or four, but five truly beautiful women standing behind my favorite equine.
No, not human women.
Nor horse-type women either.
Five full grown does.
Their eyes as big and as round and as sensitive as Huck’s.
The does’ posture shifted to that of wary attention, directed at us. Huck turned his head toward each doe, one after the other, and nodded again.
Then bucked, kicking out with his rear legs.
“Bye, ladies,” he called out. And, “Thanks for the fun!”
The deer scattered, leaping over the fence on the woodsy side of the corral, and Huck ran to the gate closest to where the truck was idling.
With a truly merry horse laugh, he greeted our return.
“You’re home! It’s about time! Rub me! Nuzzle me! Brush me! Okay, yeah, you can feed me too!”
Should’ve known a cool guy like Huck wouldn’t be alone for very long.
Merry Christmas, y’all, from all of us at Cloud Creek.
Larry Brody is an author, veteran television writer and producer. He, his wife and their dogs, cats, horses and chickens live in Marion County. The other residents of the mythical town of Paradise reside in his imagination, however, and any resemblance to actual places or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.