My son came into town on New Year's Eve on a load of fish. Had I had a little more faith in his meeting a schedule, I might have won a small wager.
For Christmas, the present to Tim and his wife, Gerri, was a tall wrought-iron lamppost to make a glow beneath the ruthless sky of some land they have bought in the desert.
When Tim saw the lamppost in the carport on Christmas Day, he said, "I'll find somebody with a pickup and get that in a week or so, Mom."
That was when I realized what I had done and that it might be well into summer before I could drive into the carport. It was not that I distrusted his intention. But the lamppost is 11 feet tall and I thought that Tim might not know anyone with a pickup with a bed longer than 10 feet. Besides, it took me 10 years to get him to take his track trophies out of the front closet, and some of them were as large as birdbaths for quite good-size birds.
I could have won a wager on the time of the removal of the lamppost from Mell Lazarus, a friend who took one look at it leaning against the end of the garage and said, "That thing will be there on the Fourth of July. This will be a long, drawn-out project."
Mell is not a cynical man. On the contrary, he is reasonable, and willing to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone in need of it. He is, however, the father of three daughters and has three sons-in-law and he has learned with philosophic acceptance that young people do not always get right at onerous tasks when it is just as handy to skip through a flowery meadow.
That was when I should have said, "Would you like to make a bet?"
But remembering the trophies and several other things, I said, "No bet."
I, too, thought it might well be into the year before the lamppost went to its desert home.
But on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, a huge truck pulled up my steep driveway and out stepped Tim and his friend Rod Chamberlain. Rod owns the truck. He also owned the fish that they had delivered to Riverside to a retirement complex with a picturesque lake.
Rod is a marine biologist and raises catfish and bass in great pools out on the old Las Palmas ranch above the Salton Sea. It was live bass they had delivered to the new retirement village, and the gentlemen who take up residence will be able to stroll down to the lake and throw a hook in the water and catch one of Rod's bass. And if it hadn't been for the fish, I'd never have gotten rid of the lamppost.
It was a fine, big truck with a 12-foot bed, ample for the lamppost and the great, big fiberglass tank in which the bass had traveled to their home.
Rod and his wife, Debbie, have a son, 10 months old, whose name is Barrett.
Rod says he takes the baby in his car seat out on the tractor for hours at a time and he loves it. Timothy said one of the most pleasant sights in the wide desert is Rod and Barrett rolling along on the tractor with their large, white dog, Oom Wah, riding on the hood of the tractor. Sometimes Sasha, Oom Wah's daughter and a great, big dog herself, rides along, too. The dogs are Labrador and Samoyed and pretty well cover the hood of the tractor.
Oom Wah is a very good truck guard dog. The boys said that when he is in one of Rod's trucks or in the tractor no one can come near because of the terrible growling and showing of teeth.
But that's just the trucks and the tractor. At the house, Oom Wah is the soul of courtly hospitality and welcomes everyone.
I noticed when the young man put the lamppost in the truck there was a hole in the floor. Rod said he once was moving a tractor engine that landed too hard and made the hole. Not much of a hole, though. Only little stuff could drop through.
I don't want to know when the first bass is caught in the new lake in Riverside. I feel that those fish are my benefactors. If Rod hadn't promised to deliver them to their new home, I would have had the lamppost until, as Mell said, the Fourth of July.
There is an old song that goes, "Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck could be somebody's mother."
That's the way I feel about those nice bass. Oh, and Rod and Oom Wah and Sasha, too, of course.