In many ways, being here with 40 some men is bringing me (Heidi) full circle with my upbringing. My brother and I, unlike many siblings, really were inseparable. I can see now that this was partly by design, as Mom wanted my tattle-tale attributes at her ready disposal. But beyond that, our growing up years in Iowa and Minnesota were a full of comedic adventure.
We caught frogs along the lane in the swampy edges and used those for bait as we fished from the canoe for Bass. It was often a contest to see who could keep their frog alive the longest as we’d cast them under the birches along the bank, working our way along the edge of the lake.
We hunted squirrels and rabbits and other monsters in the woods with our modest .22’s and shotguns. We explored the bear trails behind the property for miles into the wilderness on a Trail Ram. (This was before I ever heard of a four-wheeler.) It was an off-road sturdy framed motorcycle with wide stump-jumping tires and lots of torque. Mom always asked which direction we were headed so she could send ‘someone to look for the bones’ if we didn’t show up again.
That was Minnesota. This is Texas. Both states, if truth be told, can be rather individualistic in a rough and rowdy sort of way. Lumber jacks versus cowboys, I guess. I find a lot of similarities, though. If boys will be boys, certainly rough-necks will be rough-necks. One of the riggers said he has a friend from Minnesota and I was curious what kind of comparison he was going to make in his comment. All he said was, “He was a nice enough guy but up in there Minnesota, their food ain’t got no taste: no Tabasco, no hot sauce, no spices, no flavorin’s!”
The current crew at the rig bring my brother’s antics to mind. We have become more acquainted with the rough-necks and mudders of the company lately. Don’t you just love the mental images of rough-necks and mudders and tool-pushers? I see Bluto’s size and Popeye’s wiry bravado. Add to that Tonto’s survival tactics and Rowdy (Wagon Train) with his mischievous knack for getting into trouble and shooting his way out of it. Pretty good description of our crew, actually. Well, minus the shooting part. No weapons here.
The crew is starting to treat us a little like family. One of them said, “We’ve got sisters at home so you just tell us if you need any help. We’d be happy to do it.” I think they were referring to killing snakes and such.
My brother wasn’t always so helpful, of course. I was a crack shot and sometimes he’d get tired of the competitive spirit we shared. I was pretty easy to spook so he liked to share his Outdoor grizzly bear stories with me that came from our Grandpa’s collection. The grizzlier the better. He’d toss the extra gory magazines up into my loft. I can still see the cover story pictures of huge teeth and slimy wide-open jaws of the bears.
My bedroom was a loft accessible by ladder only and 4 foot at the tall end. I’d get dressed lying down on the mattress and keep my clothes in knapsacks along the side wall. I loved that room. At the end of the day, I’d have a lantern and a book. Lying in bed I could put my chin on the window ledge while I looked out through the pine needles at the lake. I remember trying to figure out what the noises were as I’d lie there. It’s not so different now as there is a window at the head of the bead in my RV. When it’s not too hot, I crack it open just to listen. Coons? Coyotes? Wolves? Bears? Bobcats? I’m used to all of those. Tarantulas? Alligators? Rattlesnakes? Wild Boars? Not so much.