By Otha Barham
The Meridian Star
There was a photo of my wife, Lurey, and me in the Sunday paper noting our 50th wedding anniversary. That was four years ago. Someone said I had changed and I reminded them that even a rock on the hillside changes in 50 years.
I continue to be amazed that she still stays with me, and I hold my breath each time a letter arrives addressed to me that looks like it comes from a lawyer. I love my wife and I very much want to stay married to her. But I realize that my outdoor pursuits sometimes are seen by her through different eyes, and if she totaled all the troubling episodes of the whole 54 years and considered their accumulated effect, I could have been thrown out in the mid-1900s.
I recall that forgiving me for telling her that Colorado jackrabbit was actually a cottontail was done grudgingly. I wanted her to cook it so I could learn why acquaintances never ate jackrabbit, so I lied to her. The skinned and quartered jack looked like the large cane cutters I had fed her on the first two years of our marriage. Our son, John, helped keep the secret, but none of the three of us could swallow a bite of the darned thing.
Then there was that camp out in a pup tent when it rained and she spent the whole day inside the tent glaring at me.
Another time she came home to find that I had a deer hanging in the stairwell in our hall that we shared with folks who lived in the other side of the rental house. I thought our new next door neighbors, or maybe the landlord, might object to seeing a deer butchered in the yard so I moved the admittedly messy operation inside. The nice buck had very few ticks on it and I was careful to catch most of the blood and innards in a bucket.
I had to use the old “It was great adventure” line as she fussed for weeks after I finally got her to boat-fish with me and forgot to put the plug in my huge bass boat and water poured in. She noticed her feet getting wet after we were a quarter mile from the launch on one of Alabama’s largest and deepest lakes in the pre-dawn pitch darkness. She swore we were sinking (which we were) and that we both would surely drown. I assured her the boat had “flotation” that would keep us near the surface but this failed to stop her ranting until I found that plug.
That “woofing” sound in the timber on the remote hillside above the little wilderness creek where she sat and watched me catch brook trout was probably a bear, as she rather loudly proclaimed. But I assured her it was likely an elk and that even if it were a bear it was only voicing displeasure with our intrusion before departing the area. But I could not fish in peace until I went and looked in the woods and reported no bear in sight as she mumbled, “ …walked me for miles into these mountains and we will be eaten by a bear.” You will note that she was willing to sacrifice me on the search mission.
An interesting incident happened that year it snowed 16 inches in town and I was snowed in at the deer camp for three days and she got stranded on the highway and had to spend the night with strangers after trudging through the snow and knocking on their door. This was long before cell phones were conceived.
Another time I thought the old jeep was doing just fine slowly creeping up the switchbacks on Colorado’s Ruby Mountain when Lurey took a look at the tilt meter above the windshield, loosed her grip on the panic bar and jumped out! Her words paraphrased were, “You are crazy to try to climb this mountain on a goat trail and we will surely fall to our deaths and so I am going to walk back down and watch you fall and why would you do this to me anyway?”
Taken separately, with adequate cool-down time between, these indiscretions could be slipped past most wives it would seem. But I worry about Lurey consolidating them with the countless others in her mind and concluding that she has endured my adventures long enough.
But thank Heaven she endured right through the big five-four and still tolerates my feet under her table. I shall be eternally grateful.