My pioneer family’s red Ford F250 Conestoga pulled up my hill and into my driveway this weekend. It wasn’t the whole family, just my two favorite expedition scouts, my nephe Deputy Brandon and his six year old doppelganger, Morgan.
When they get out of their pickup it’s as if you can hear a deep voice rumbling across my place on the mountain top “Lt the fun begin!”
And so it has. Beginning with the sudden stop they made coming up my driveway to ask “is that a huge coyote curled up sleeping in the field?”
“yup, that’s the big female coyote who’d been stalking my little dog , ‘Sr. Perro most of this week.’”
They were amazed to see a coyote within two miles of a city. I wasn’t. Unless I catch her hiding in my fenced backyard to ambush and eat my beloved, but very wary, 11-pound Chihuahua, I’m not going to hunt her down and take her out. Nephew Brandon doesn’t understand my reasoning so I tried to ‘splain it to him:
Coyotes do what coyotes do. I live in their territory so I have to accept some ground rules (my cats are indoor cats, not furry fleeing protein. My dog has his own door in and out of his fenced backyard. He knows what to do if he wants me to go out in the back yard with him at night.
Surly coyotes showing Lip raised, pointy fangs accompanied by aggressive growling, laid back ears and a ready-to-pounce posture is not acceptable within ten yards of me.
Getting caught stalking my little doggy in his back yard is grounds for a sudden, .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire brain-evacuating headache).
After explaining my rules about carnivorous wild things to Brandon and his doppelganger I pointed to a mound on my orchard floor where a small blonde and taupe furry head had just popped out of the ground. They were still glancing at the mommy coyote so they missed seeing one of the two adult weasels that have wiped out every gopher that moved to a mountaintop this summer. That ended the parade of wild things so we settled in to a day of visiting interrupted by high speed ATV runs on my up and down the half-mile inclined driveway connectings my house to suburban Escondido.
The high point of the visit was going out to dinner. My nephew mentioned that he liked a restaurant we visited last year and it’s signature bucket of spiny lobsters, shrimp, crab and chicken. Off to Oceanside Harbor we went.
Rockin Baja Lobster is one of my fav places to eat. The food is not approved by my or anyone else’s cardiologist, but it’s tasty and fresh. Besides, crab is the perfect meal for a tiring, inquisitive 6-year old boy having a very late dinner. When you’re six, you can dismember a crab using primitive tools, have crab all over your face, make crab burritos with fresh tortillas and no one says a thing to you other than “”having fun?”
Grunting like a miniature caveman is acceptable.
Things to do with a six year old to stay amused and on top of your game:
- Use crab legs as finger extenders at the dinner table.
- Crab legs with pointed ends are good for getting the attention of a silly uncle or stodgy dad at the dinner table. They also make good, but very funny pointers.
- Build a spud canon.
- Experiment with Spud canon propellants. Yes, I know hair spray is for amateurs, but the local drug store is open 24 hours.
- Make sure you do not tell the six year old you’re babysitting that the secret ingredient to good spud canon propellant is a high performance oxidant such as oxygen.
- Make experimental ammunition for your potato canon.
- A spud can be enhanced with a pointy carrot sabot. But, the spud has to be appropriately scored so the bright orange carrot breaks free.
- A carrot sabot, buried pointy end down in sand is “pee in your pants funny.”
- Secret “boy” things and pacts need to be sealed with spit.
- Backyard metallurgy is a lost art and very much of fun. It is possible to melt enough pennies with a cigar lighter to make a tiny copper hatchet using a wax sand form
- Tiny copper hatchets made in a back yard do not hold an edge for very long.
- the word “hatchet” sounds a lot like “hat shit” which is a funny sounding and inspiring as a practical joke.
- Don’t get caught performing practical jokes.
- if Caught: deny, deny, deny , but first practice look deeply hurt but angelic. ( working with a mirror helps).
- To make better tiny copper hatchets you need a stronger metal. Adding a little nickel from a melted nickel to the next batch of melting copper makes bronze.
- Entire civilizations were built by bronze toolmakers.
- A bronze tiny hatchet defeats a tiny copper hatchet in back yard battles. “The rule book says so.” Is an acceptable answer to “why.”
- Finding a fast snail for snail races is important and takes a lot of observation and life experience.
- Flinging the snail race loser with a flinging stick is fun, but not very sportsmanlike.
- Naps are important and you can “win” napping contests
Some Uncles never grow up. Guilty as charged. Jim Forbes, in rural northern San Diego County on a rainy 09/28/2007 morning.