Saturday, October 29, 2016

NEW RELEASE:  A piece of the puzzle, download "Puppies," a short story prequel, to find out who they were before they found the Strandline and each other. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Water Moose Crossing

"Look, everyone! There's a water moose with horns at Mr. Randy’s.” 

Conner pointed to our next-door neighbor’s back pasture, and then went back to calmly digging in the sandbox. Conner was four.

The adult faction of my family sat on the back porch in the state of semi-stupor typical of our kind on the weekends. We watched Conner and the other grandchildren as they frolicked about the yard. We were hoping for a few moments of relative calm and possibly quiet—also no immediate need for moving any large muscles.

“What honey? What did you say?”

He pointed again and repeated himself. No one moved. No one twitched. No large muscles contracted. 

Here’s what we were hoping he said: “Garble, larple! There’s . . . some-wa-thing . . . garble with ha morns.” Nonsense, that required no adult action.

What we were afraid he actually said: “I need apple juice in a special sippy cup made of hammered gold, a snack that you’ll have to cook in a wok, my backpack that’s been lost for a month in Siberia, or the special bug jar from the attic.”

What we pretended he said: “How cute, he sees a bug.”

What we said (in a condescending adult way): “What did you say Conner? Did you find a bug, honey?” 

What Conner actually said, again: “I see it,” he said, pointing harder. “It’s a water moose with horns.” 

We looked at each other (parents, grandparents, and assorted relatives) and debated the possibilities, watching for signs that one of us was about to crack and get up off our big butts to go figure out if we were, in fact, being invaded by marauding water moose. 

“I think he’s seen a water bug.”

“He’s just pretending about something.”

“He’s playing.”

“He has sand in his mouth.”

“Maybe one of us should check it out?”

No one moved. No one twitched. Conner pointed and raised one eyebrow at us with the regal disdain of a four-year old.

“Oh for Heaven’s sake; I’ll go check.” I cracked and stood up. I’m always the first to crack and everyone knows it. They depend on it.

I walked up the gentle slope of the septic tank and looked for a water moose in our neighbor’s back pasture. Conner wandered over, standing next to me. Sure enough, a creature three parts gristle, six parts rawhide, and one part bovine had managed to jump a fence and wade through a designated wet lands area to forage and trespass. Chewing placidly, the old cow meandered around Mr. Randy’s property. Brown with a white blazed face, the old cow raised her head, displaying a hefty set of horns.

“You see?” Conner asked.

Conner looked up at me, trusting me to see the truth of it, knowing that I would. I gave him a quick nod. He smiled, winked and gave me a thumb’s up. 

“Is there something there?” Some lazy grownup punk from the porch called.

“Sure. It’s a water moose with horns,” I called out. 

“Yep.” Conner nodded in companionship and agreement and then went back to the sandbox.

The water moose shook its horns at the sound of our voices and bolted. She waded back through the swamp hole and jumped the fence to become, nothing more or less, than a fat old cow with a sway back and tired udders.

My grandchildren never let ignorance of a thing hold them back. If they don’t know what to call something, they make it up. If they don’t understand, they ask. If they don’t have an answer, they do their best to figure one out. 

“Zoe, why is the sky blue?” Conner asked.

Stroking her little brother’s cheek, the way she had seen her mother do, Zoe gave it her best shot.

“Because Conner, blue is your favorite color, and Heavenly Father knows that it’s your favorite color, and so he made the sky blue—for you.”

And grownups think they have all the answers. I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

Linda (Water Moose Crossing Guard) Zern

Friday, October 7, 2016


The first time I heard the word “hunker” I was on a raccoon hunt. We were standing at the bottom of a massively tall oak tree where a couple of raccoons were hiding out. The ‘coon’ dogs stared up at the invisible raccoons. The hunters stared up at the invisible animals. I stared up at . . . nothing. Those raccoons had either discovered a black hole in the fork of that oak tree or they had perfected the art of hunkering. 

Hunter number one said, “Well!” He chewed and spat. “Those beasts are sure hunkered down.”

For a long time, I thought hunkered meant, having an invisibility cloak. But no . . .

It means: to squat or crouch down low, to take cover. Really?

Do people know that? Are they really telling people to squat down in the face of a cat-4 hurricane, or are they telling folks to take cover in the hollow of an oak tree?

I wouldn’t pick the tree option. It might be crowded in there, what with all those raccoons stuffed inside.

What is it about hurricanes that make people use the word hunker? Don’t get me wrong. I love the word. I think it’s underused. I’d like to see it enjoy a renaissance of popularity.

Don’t be afraid. I will hunker near you all night.

Come! Let’s us hunker together.

I would have been on time to work, but I was busy hunkering.

I have hunkered long enough. I shall stop squatting now.

No one can hunker down like Matt.

To hunker is to squat—also crouch. 

Don’t tell that jerk where I’ve been hunkering down!

Such a great word.

So many possibilities.

HURRICANE DRINKING GAME: Every time I hear the word hunker I take a drink—of Gatorade. I don’t drink that other stuff. Never needed to. Never wanted to be drunk. Saw too much of someone else who needed to be drunk—a lot—when I was a kid. 

I have hunkered down, however, and not just during hurricanes.

Linda (Huntress) Zern

PS  No raccoons were harmed in the telling of this story! 

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