April 20, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. I like April. Do you like April? You can count how much more there is of school by weeks instead of months. You can forget about coats most of the time. You can see everything turn green. You can play out in the rain because sometimes it just showers down without thunder and lightning. It’s sort of like going swimming standing up.
Spring flowers start blooming. Bright colored flowers like tulips. They always make me remember Mama Mae who died planting tulips. But she wouldn’t want me to hold that against the tulips. She loved flowers. All kinds of flowers.
In April, she especially loved the dogwood trees when they bloomed. She told me the legend of the dogwood. She said it might not be exactly true and Dad said the same. He said the Bible doesn’t have anything about the dogwood tree. Nothing at all. But that doesn’t mean the Lord didn’t plan the dogwood tree to remind us of what Jesus did for us.
Anyway, here’s the poem Mama Mae read to me a long time ago. She said nobody knew who wrote it.
In Jesus’ time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony.”
So whenever I look at the dogwood blooms, I see what the poem says. The bloodstains on the edges of the four petals and the notches that look like they could have been made by nails. Then the middle part with red berries that could be a crown of thorns marked with blood. Whether the legend is true or not it’s still a good story to think about in April when the trees bloom. Mama Mae said it added to their beauty and now that I’m older, I know what she means. Had you ever heard the dogwood legend? Do you like the dogwood trees?
On to the next episode of Bailey’s Bug. Are you ready? Do you like Bailey and Lucinda and Skelley?
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week)
Bailey practiced how he might tell Lucinda about the hum while he waited for her to come back from hunting. Maybe he could simply say the bug crawled out of his ear. That could happen, couldn’t it? He would scrunch down on his belly and tell her how sorry he was for getting her out here in the middle of nowhere. He’d beg her to pounce on him, bite his ears, scratch his nose or do whatever she wanted to if it made her feel better. He deserved it leading her out here where she had to hunt mice and climb trees to get away from coyotes.
He aimed to just blurt it out the minute she came back, but when she stepped out of the night in front of him, he lost his courage. Instead, he shut his eyes and pretended to be asleep. Too asleep to even notice when she put a mouse down right in front of his nose.
The next morning, the mouse was still there. Bailey tried to give it to Skelley, but the old dog shook his head and told Bailey to eat it. So he gobbled it down. It wasn’t much but it was something. Would he ever see a full food dish again?
Maybe he would be like Skelley and spend all his time raiding garbage cans and saving bones that didn’t have even one good chew left on them. How would he look with bones sticking out in angles like Skelley’s?
Bones were already in plain sight on his sides in spite of the way his hair had gotten bushy with nobody to trim it off. He was a funny mud color too and didn’t look much like the dog that had run away from Mr. Robinson.
He didn’t feel much like that dog either. That dog didn’t think of much other than food dishes and fetching for Reid. This dog he was now had to worry about getting Lucinda and Skelley lost or worse and whether he’d ever see Reid again.
Lucinda hopped down out of the tree. “Time to be on our way.”
Thick fog hid everything except the trunks of the trees nearest them. No hint of the sun pushed through it. He couldn’t go without seeing which way the sun was shining.
“Maybe we should let Skelley rest a while longer. So his leg can get better.” The sun would surely show up in a little while.
“For a truth, Miss Lucinda, I’m not sure if I can walk on it,” Skelley said. “And I’m a wee bit too tired to hop along on me other three feet.”
“We’ll go slow,” Lucinda said.
“No, no, Miss Lucinda. I’ll not be slowing the two of you down. Twill be better for ye to leave me here and go on your way.”
“We can’t leave you here alone,” Bailey protested.
“And we won’t.” There was no doubt in Lucinda’s voice.
“But you can’t stay,” Skelley started.
Lucinda interrupted him. “Let me finish. I’ll stay here with you while Bailey goes on to find Reid. Then he can bring him back with him. People know about fixing hurt legs and such.”
Skelley settled his sad eyes on Bailey. He was waiting for him to tell Lucinda about the hum, but Bailey just pulled his tongue up in his mouth and didn’t say anything.
Lucinda went on. “We’ve gone miles and miles. Too many to count. We have to be in another state. Close to Reid. Your bug says so, doesn’t it, Bailey?”
Bailey stared out toward the fog as though he were hearing something in the gray mist. He should tell Lucinda about losing the hum. He should. But the words wouldn’t come out of his throat.
Instead he kept his eyes on the farthest tree he could see in the fog. “It can’t be far.”
Lucinda sighed. “Heaven knows, you’ve been saying that every day since we left, but maybe this time you’ll be right.”
When Bailey didn’t move, she nudged him with her paw. “Well, what are you waiting for? Go get Reid. Now.”
“I’ll find him.” Bailey tried to sound like he meant it as he skipped his eyes over Lucinda and Skelley and headed out into the fog. He had no idea which way to go. One way was as good as another until he got out of sight of Lucinda.
“It was a grand adventure, Bailey me lad,” Skelley called after him. “A grand adventure.”
(To be Continued next week. Remember, the first part of the story is up under the title at the top of my report.)