I seems to happen every spring and fall here - during mud and flood season. Everyone gets in what can only be called "negative speaking." I used to blame it on the mud. But with the drought there hasn't been a lot of that for four years. The locals that can afford to leave in April or November or both are gone. Those of us that cannot stay behind and pet sit or property watch or do the little minor jobs like painting the living room when the owners are away. The owners call back from time to time to check on Pookie or the Puce they picked for the bedroom.
They begin by asking how the weather is.
"Been raining for five days. We had two and half inches on one day."
"So the road is a sheet of mud, right?"
"The grass is very green."
"Will it need mowed before we return?"
"The creek is bank to bank."
"So muddy paw prints all inside the house, right?"
I am not taking care of a pet for them so obviously she means my muddy paws.
I have tried to head off these focus on the negative conversations by sending e-mail updates including pictures of Pookie tracking mud through the living room. No, not really. Just, Pookie, and no mud. The e-mail works if I do not expect answers to issues. "We ran out of Pookie food and her brand isn't carried in the store. Can you let me know where you get it?"
Replies to such questions are usually very non-responsive. Instead of a supplier I can call I get a diatribe about how difficult it is to get adequate service (think she means me and not the website she orders special Pookie food from) in the "muddy sticks." Trick here is never reply to an email.
Facebook has not helped. After posting a bevy of photos from a road trip to Cimarron (there and back in Three hours on a Sunday) I got a telephone message asking why I was not home painting the living room pumpkin and/or answering the phone. She didn't even have Facebook but a friend of hers showed her my page on her account.
Okay, most of this is entirely fiction. Well, not entirely. I have a good memory of clients I do not work for any more. Probably mutual because I didn't reply to her e-mails. And fed Pookie the wrong food - that food I could find.
Mother always said if you could not say anything good do not say anything at all. Now there is a conversation ender. But staying here or away in paradise all you seem to hear in mud and flood season is the very worst of here and the very best of there. If it rains it is the mud, and if it doesn't rain it is the looming fire danger. It can be 110 in Tampa but at last she is warm. It is always the wind even when not blowing. And the wind doesn't do spirals like in Kansas.
One could blame it on Camelot. Unrealistic expectations. I figure any place you live is a bit of give and take. And Black Lake has a lot going for it. It never gets to 114. I only have to heat the house for about 3 months a year and those in Phoenix have to cool theirs for 6 to 9. There are no fleas, ticks, or gators unless brought in by tourists.
Hell, I even love the mud this year. A drought for four years makes you appreciate strange things. And yes the grass now needs mowed but better than no grass or the stuff that crackles when you walk on it. In fact, the only thing off-putting at the moment is all those raving about their vacation spots and promising they just might not come back.
I have taken vows of silence. I am just sending pictures.