Every person I have met during my fifty tears in lake County, and especially in Witter Springs, are good neighbors. They are the sort of folks you would want living next to you. Next to my farm in Witter Springs, I have two of the best neighbors you could find anywhere. Maybe it’s because of Carl Sandburg’s poetic prose about neighbors; ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ We all have fences in Witter Springs. Naturally. Otherwise, our cattle and horses would be sitting on each other’s front porch.
Even without the fences, Charley and Linda are the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Linda brings me one of her magnificent apple pies now and then when apples are in season. They melt in your mouth. Her strapping son, Tom, came over after the last windstorm. He sawed up one of the trees in my back pasture when that hundred-foot behemoth fell over. Tom even sawed me a good-looking sitting bench and put it in the center of my tree grove. Whenever I go out to check my well, if I’m tired, or just want to look at the trees and my pasture, the bench is a perfect place to rest.
Linda’s dog (she has several; a whole crew) is in training for the Lake County Rescue Service. That good doggy can track anything anywhere, over any trail. A bad guy could hop into a fast-driving racing car, travel over valleys, rivers, concrete, dirt, or asphalt roads, and Thor (the very name inspires respect) could follow his scent to China. His capture would be a certain as death or taxes. Lose a child? Not likely. Not with mighty Thor on the trail. One sniff of the child’s teddy bear and Thor will find that little one before the dinner bell rings.
Charley, who has the farm on the other side of me, is another shining example of the best of Lake County’s fine neighbors. Once, when my dear wife was alive, and my truck broke down, Charley took us on our errand quick as scat. Charley is an excellent farmer and raises fine cattle. They eat the good grass all day long. They are as happy and contented as … well, cows in clover.
What I especially admire about Charley is his ‘fertile’ imagination. Just to give you an example of the Shakespearean creativity of Charley’s answering machine message, it goes like this:
‘Welcome to Charley’s Cow Chip Factory. We have tender, moisturized cow chips that will take your breath away. We operate twenty-four hours a day. We offer the best in cow chips all guaranteed fresh and fragrant. They are all off the tail end of our assembly line ready for delivery at a moment’s notice. If you’d like to place an order, Dial….’
Then, if you are not too dazed with admiration to continue, you may leave a message. The first time I heard Charley’s telephone message, I admit, his commercial was so inviting I was tempted to purchase a dozen Cow Chips, or so, just to have them around in case I needed one.
I know something about Charley’s cows. His field is next to mine. Charley’s grass hay, like mine, is some of the best in Lake County. Any cow grazing in Charley’s hayfield should count itself lucky. They are all fat good-looking animals. There is no doubt in my mind that any ambitious cattle rancher, having the brass to compete with Charley for the Cow Chip Market will be sadly disappointed. He would not stand a chance against Charley. No cows that graze in Lake County make better Cow Chips.
In one of my recent columns, I promised never to tout anyone’s product; to offer a commercial for their business. I am forced to make an exception to the rule for Charley. Not only is he a good neighbor, his Cow Chips will stack up or lie down next to anyone’s cow production and come out of the contest smelling… well, not exactly like a rose, but first in presence and power.
I still haven’t purchased any, but I’m still thinking about it… as soon as I can find some use for his excellent product.
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To enjoy more of Gene’s writing and read his books, visit Gene’s website; http://genepaleno.com. Speaker? Call Gene; 275-2777