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Ramble with Storm: Monty Python & the hedge-apple games

Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, our family’s mixed Lab.

“Pointed sticks?”

I immediately thought of the famous line from the extended Monty Python skit, “Self Defense against Fruit,” yesterday when I took our youngest son and three of his buds hedge-apple bowling.

They invented new games. Apparently bowling was too passe for them to do with the fruit of the Osage orange. There was more than 100 hedge apples on the ground by the east side of the south old clay pit.

So they simply heaved or shotput hedge apples into the south pit. Then dribbled them up, all four of the boys had some soccer-playing skills, then shot or passed them into the pit.

One of the boys figured it might be worthwhile to drop-kick hedge apples. That seemed like a dumb idea to me, they are considerably harder than a soccer ball or football.

But I let it slide.

Then they began wandering off and left dozens of hedge apples on the ground. I was glad for that. They do end up being eaten by squirrels in winter.

One of the boys lagged behind and broke off a sharp stick with a good point on it. And he was quite pleased when he was able to bust open a hedge apple.

That’s all he wanted to do, see what was inside. I thought that was normal boy behavior. Once he saw the soft pulp and seeds, he simply ran off and we caught up with the others.

And I thought of Monty Python and the old nugget of extended humor on pointed sticks and defense against fruit. Even decades later, it remains funny and my wife was even leaning over to watch when I found it on YouTube.

The boys were determined to have an adventure yesterday, so they ended up marching all the way around both pits, which is something like a mile or so with the paths that they took between field roads, dried-up shorelines, four-wheeler trails and animals paths.

We found a foot bridge over a ditch off the north pit that I did not know about.

Once, years ago when Storm was a pup, I circled both pits during a good ice winter. And once I circled both pits with a buddy in his cartopper boat.

So I enjoyed the adventure, too.

They did not find any frogs, one of their major aims. I suspected they would not with the cold.

But they did find the back entrance to the foxhole, which I had not found before. So I showed them the main showy hole entrance. And one of the boys tried to slide down it.

Not much for wildlife, other than some bluegill or redear dimpling the surface in spots. But it was a wonderful piece of life for a Sunday afternoon.

I think the joy of that afternoon led perfectly into a sense of joy this morning.

Cold again this morning in the upper 20s. But clear. It was completely dark when we set out, even though I got off late. Time change will come here soon enough. I think Saturday night.

So dark, cold and early that I did not see any sign of wildlife until I heard a sandpiper calling by the edge of the north pit as we started the extended ramble.

A few Canada geese I could not see in the dark honked on the lake to the west and on the edges of the north pit.

Dozens of hedge apples remained on the ground by the south pit.

Two rabbits rustled off unseen on the old rail bed, now a trail, above the south pit before we walked out of the wildness around.

Oh, the adventures were not done for the day.

It happened when we came out to the edge of town. I stopped to grab a photo of the sky before the dawn by the grain elevators.

And the meathead charged off while I loosely had the leash wrapped around my hands. I tried to grab the leash while hanging on to my camera phone.

But the nylon leash cut through my fingers so hard I had to let loose. But eventually I was able to retrieve him.

Here’s why being a meathead works against him.

Storm is smart enough to pick up the leash handle in his mouth so he can run easier and be fast enough to stay away from me. But then he has to put the handle down when he wants to root his nose into some fresh scent.

So I caught him sniffing around a ditch on the other side of the grain elevators and we completed a bit longer ramble.

Late dawn near home.