Dare To, Well, Dare

Since yours truly is currently incapacitated – no, not what you’re thinking – although I wish I were just in the shower. I’m having surgery and leaving you in the good hands of my friend, Slim Randles. Also leaving you with incomplete sentences, but maybe you will find them entertaining. Not as entertaining as Slim can be, though.

I hope you enjoy this post featuring Herb and his indomitable spirit of daring.

Like a doctor removing something important, Herb Collins gently peeled the wrapper back from the root ball and tenderly placed the baby tree in the hole. Then he stood and walked around it to see which way he should align it. Actually, looks pretty good just the way it is.

So he took his bucket of mixed sand and compost and began sprinkling it down onto the roots and then packing it in gently with his fist.

Every few minutes he’d stop and read the directions again. When he ordered the tree, the nurseryman had written back “Are you sure?” Well, that made ol’ Herb laugh. Yes, he was sure. He’s always sure this time of year.

He was still chuckling to himself when Janice Thomas walked along the sidewalk.

“Hi Herb,” said the high school art teacher. “What is it this year?”

“Papaya, Janice. Nice healthy one, don’t you think?”

Janice took a close look at the little dark-green tree.

Papaya.

“Isn’t that a tropical tree?”

“Sure is,” he said, tucking more dirt around the roots. “I have to read the instructions carefully to get this right.”

Janice thought carefully before speaking. “Papayas sure taste good, Herb.”

“Sure do. Wouldn’t it be nice if this lives long enough to produce fruit?”

“But you’re not expecting …”

“Of course not. The first nippy day in autumn will turn this little guy belly up.”

He looked up and smiled at Janice’s consternation.

“You know that banana tree almost made it to Christmas last year. That was my best so far. We’ll see how this little guy makes out.”

Each year Herb plants something in the front yard that has no chance at all of being there the following spring. He’s done it for years. It gives the neighborhood something to look at and talk about, and it’s fun.

“You know, Herb, if you’re looking for fruit, a cherry tree will produce …”

“I’m not looking for fruit, Janice,” he said, gently. “I’m looking for glory. Glory!”

He laughed. “Where’s the glory in planting something that will grow here? Anyone can do that. But a papaya? Ha! There’s glory in that.”

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Brought to you by yourself … and me, as we take off our hats to the brave men and women of the military.

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Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy, dog musher, and an all-around good guy. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books and the host of two podcasts and a television program.

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