Sleeping with Ghosts on the Appalachian Trail

Ruminations, Romance, and the Lives of a Family Long Dead

Story and Photographs by William Dudley Bass

Ruins of the old Sarver Homestead along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, May 1991.

Ruins of the old Sarver Homestead along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, May 1991.

In late May 1991, almost three months into our odyssey along the Appalachian Trail, my wife and I planned to sleep among ghosts. Old-timey Virginia ghosts. It seemed like a fitting thing to do while walking across our home state, a journey as rich with rumination as it was with hardship and joy.

Gwen and I had embarked on the first day of spring from the top of Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to backpack the whole Appalachian Trail end to end. The AT, as we hikers called it, or simply “the Trail,” stretches more than 2,000 miles northwards across 14 states to the summit of mile-high Mt. Katahdin in north-central Maine. Almost a quarter of the Trail passes through the Old Dominion, making Virginia home to the longest section of the AT, more than any other state. Gwen and I took six-and-a-half months to backpack the whole Trail, climbing Katahdin in early October on the day after our third wedding anniversary.

Rich in both history and wildlife, the Appalachian Trail is an intersection of people and wilderness. Those who backpack end-to-end in one push are known as “thruhikers,” while those who attempt to complete the whole thing in stages are called “section hikers.” Most take on trail names. Gwen and I were thruhikers, as such a distinct minority among the day hikers, weekenders, and picnickers. We called ourselves the Pregnant Rhinos.

Our trail name arose from a backpacking trip out West the previous year, when we got teased about the huge new internal-frame expedition packs bulging from our backs. “Damn, y’all look like a coupla pregnant rhinoceroses,” exclaimed a teenage boy, his own rickety, external-frame pack jangling with pots and pans and sloppy blankets.

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Skipping Rocks at Carkeek Park

Blended Family Fun on the Beach just after Sunset

Morgan & Talia at Play

~ Summer of 2004 ~

All photographs by William Dudley Bass.

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Morgan showing Talia how to skip rocks into the Sound, Carkeek Park, Seattle, June 2004.

Morgan showing Talia how to skip rocks into the Sound, Carkeek Park, Seattle, Wednesday 16 June 2004.

Kristina, my partner at the time, and I discovered one of the best ways to blend our quirky families was to play together. Shared activities made any chore much more fun and the play a hooty wild blast. Sometimes we played rough, too. My kids and I called wrestling with Daddy “rumble tumble.” Kate was the roughest, although Talia enjoyed a good tumble, too, until she decided she didn’t appreciate a particular move. Morgan didn’t care for such forceful fun. She was a more gentle, restrained, and patient player who valued eccentric, witty goofiness over “play fightin’.”

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The Lost Creek Monster

Did a Sasquatch tear up the woods between two Virginia farms?

The mystery of this strange event has never been solved. Recent scientific discoveries and claims, however, may provide the inquisitive with clues.

It’s springtime in Virginia. The year is either 1967 or 1968, and possibly as late as 1972. My memory of time and dates from long-ago events are a little hazy these days. Not the incidents and sequences of events, however long ago they occurred. These events are crystal clear in the “documentary film” of my memories.

A giant and mysterious beast went berserk in the woods shared by two intermarried family farms. The destruction was extensive and required immediate repair. We farmers kept our herds of cows and heifers separate to prevent them from getting all mixed up. Both farms had planned to turn loose their herds into adjacent fields separated by the fences along Lost Creek. Compounding the mystery was odd feeling the destruction appeared to be far more playful than malicious. Or perhaps it was a warning?

Maybe there was more than one entity. Perhaps a small family of these unknown monsters was responsible for the bizarre rampage. At the time people, adults as well as us kids, thought a tornado was the most likely culprit even if a tornado made no sense at all as there were no storms. So we imagined a giant, troll-like creature and named it the Lost Creek Monster. We certainly hoped if there really was such a beast there was only one at most. Feeling a bit superstitious, we nonetheless prayed the monster would leave us alone. Especially if it was the Devil. But we were just as afraid of God.

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Out of My Body and Across the Sea

Once I had an OBE, an Out-of-Body-Experience, and flew across the sea. There were a few times I am certain I had other OBEs, one bordering on a NDE or Near-Death Experience. This particular OBE had one significant difference, though, that distinguished it from all the others. As of March 2013, this event remains the only time I managed to intentionally astral travel. All of my other OBEs were unintentional and spontaneous. This particular astral journey was startling in its clarity. I remember it vividly many years later as if it happened yesterday.

During my time as a Wiccan, I was exposed to a number of practices and paranormal phenomena at odds with mainstream orthodox science. Among these were strange “things” called astral projection, astral travel, or out-of-body experiences. They are different terms for the same phenomena. One could dismiss such things as magical thinking, a level of psycho-spiritual and socio-cultural evolutionary development considered inferior. Magical thinking is a cluster of different religious and psychological belief systems wrapped up in elements of what many deride as “superstition.”

The one primary distinction shared within this cluster is the idea thinking certain thoughts either intentionally or unintentionally generates actions and events in the outer or “real” world of matter and energy. Research into psychic phenomena and brain waves demonstrate the power of focused mental energy to affect change in the environment beyond the body. Meditation, prayer, casting spells, calling down old Deities, and focused ESP represent different examples of focused mental power.

There is still much to learn regarding the mysteries of consciousness. The experience of Afterlife beings raises questions about definitions of life, especially beyond biological death. None of this mattered to those who feared for my soul, however, as they were sure these “things” were real. My Fundamentalist Christian friends and a few family members swore I was deluded by the Devil and flying straight down into Hell.

One afternoon, however, regardless of Heaven or Hell or the Levels In Between, I faced my fears and deliberately left my body for what proved to be an exciting adventure.

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Doppelganger Among the Cows

Once I saw a doppelganger, although I wasn’t aware of it until the next day. This mysterious event still baffles my mind. Strange and still unresolved questions were raised for which “hoax” would be the easiest yet least likely answer. There are questions regarding the possibility for the bilocation of matter, especially biological organisms, at high levels of material cohesion. Can a person split themselves at will or unconsciously? Other questions provoke inquiries into the evidence consciousness extends beyond our living bodyminds as well as continues, at least for a while, after death. One may speculate as well upon the spiritual ramifications of doppelgangers.

I was not the only witness that warm, sunny afternoon. First, however, what is a doppelganger? Yeah, what the heck is that? And is it dangerous? There’s no way this was a hoax. Well, a hoax is highly unlikely. I’ll explain why further down in this article.

Doppelgangers have existed in myths and legends since Ancient Times. I’d never given the phenomena much attention or credibility prior to this event. Yet my wife and I and others witnessed a doppelganger. Later that afternoon, one man even worked unknowingly alongside this doppelganger. When the man discovered he had done so, he freaked out and prayed feverishly to God so he wouldn’t be snatched up by the Devil and flung down into the fires and stench of Hell.

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Summer Twilight of the Burning Sky

The following anomalous event occurred one summer in the early 1970s in rural Prince Edward County, south-central Virginia. It remains unexplained.

This weird incident happened about five or six years after my family and I experienced an unidentified flying ship over the fields and woods behind our farmhouse. Those two experiences may have nothing to do with each other except both were strange and were dismissed, ridiculed, or explained away by our American Government.

Our paranoid Cold War fears intensified after the anomaly occurred this particular hot and sweaty summer evening. I was a young teenager back then. A group of us kids played outside in a grassy cow pasture between my house and the neighbors’. Joe, my younger brother, was running around with us, too. Our parents were out and about in their respective yards. The fireflies were already out, winking on and off along the edge of the woods bordering the field even though there was still plenty of light left. We called ’em lightnin’ bugs. We jerked alert as we found ourselves and everything around us bathed in glowing light. It happened fast. BOOM without sound.

“Whoa, look!” shouted one friend in awe. “Look at the sky!”

“Oh, wow!”

“What the hell is that?”

“I sure don’t think it’s Jesus comin’ back. Don’t hear no trumpets a blowin’.”

“Trumpets, shit. Maybe the Russians are bombin’ us.”

“Or aliens from Outer Space!”

“Whoa, look at that! Hey, over there, too. Oh man, the sky’s on fire!”

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Goat-Headed Devil in a Black Tuxedo

Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

 

What transpired is true and cannot be proven.

Once upon a time in the deep dark of night my first wife Margaret and I walked in the door of our home and saw a goat-headed devil sitting in the chair watching us with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap. Scared the bejesus out of us, too. We didn’t know what in Hell this creature was other than it was male. He certainly challenged our religious, psycho-spiritual, and cultural upbringing.

Thick, smoky fog oozed through the woods and draped the open fields. Down the hill beyond the bluffs snaked Big and Little Sandy Rivers. It wasn’t too cold, but the damp chill made the fog drip with hypothermia. Margaret and I arrived home close to midnight. We’d been out at a gathering celebrating Goddess and God with the other Witches of Silverwood Circle. Our group was a Neo-Pagan Celtic Wiccan coven in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

My wife, well, she was my first wife, was the Inner Flamenca or High Priestess of Silverwood. Our close friend, Paul, was the Inner Flamen or High Priest. We preferred “Inner” instead of  “High” to promote ideas of going deep into the mysteries rather than someone being superior above others. The terms “flamen” and “flamenca” derived from Latin words for Roman priests and priestesses responsible for the sacred flames of Gods and Goddesses. They’re not as common in Wiccan usage these days, but some Celtic Wiccans preferred the Roman words to distinguish themselves from Neo-Celtic Druids.

The closer we approached our home the colder and clammier everything seemed. We felt open psychically, perhaps too much so, for we had relatively little training in the arts of psychic and spiritual self-defense. We were beginning to encounter spiritual entities for which we were unprepared to meet.

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Ghosts and Hauntings at the Old Bass Family Farmhouse

 

Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.

Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.

A ghost, yes, an invisible ghost, scared me nearly all to pieces once upon a time back when I was a little kid. I was young, so you can laugh if you wanna, but I was well read and smart, too for being such a squirt. The way that ol’ ghost stomped down the hallway of an old farmhouse in my direction freaked me out. Made my big Frankenstein hearing aid SCREAM. I could hear this ghost, too. I could feel it, feel both the vibrations of the stomps and the cold blob of air moving along with it.

I was a young boy back in the mid-to-late1960s sometime. I don’t remember how many years old I was or what grade I attended in school. What I do recall, however, was the weather. It was Summertime. Lush, green Summertime! It must’ve been between grades. I reckon I was in late elementary school or maybe even early middle. Not sure. But it was Summer that I know. And a ghost scared the bedoobus outa my insides. This true story began late one afternoon.

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The Devil in Uncle Watt

Uncle Watt bit off the head of a big, fat, juicy green tobacco worm, peed on his deaf cousin, and poked mules in the ass with a sharp stick just to see ‘em kick. Oh, yes, he was full of the Devil. Yes, he was! So people said, and thus my efforts to untangle dead ancestors one from the other to find the truth lured me down into a genealogical exorcism.

“Oh my Lord, he done got the Devil in ‘im BAD,” Raffie, an ancient-looking man who said he used to work beside Uncle Watt on the farm once told me back when I was a young lad. “Yeah, Lord, I’m tellin’ ya, it’s BAD!” As late as July 2009, Helen, one of my beloved aunts and a Beatnik artist in her 80s, when reminded of Uncle Watt called him “quite a character.” And so I tumbled down the dumbwaiter chute of a family mystery. Who was this “Devil?”

My Dad told me stories. Raffie told me stories. Uncle Willy told me stories. Even Uncle Aumon who got peed on told me stories. Willy and Aumon were brothers, and as they were also my Dad’s uncles they were really my paternal great-uncles. All of them would shake their heads with bemused dismay and chuckle. They could laugh simply because Uncle Watt was dead. He died young and wasn’t around anymore to torment anyone with all his foolishness. I never got to meet him. Dad said, “Uncle Watt died before you were born, Son, long before you were born.” He didn’t remember what of, tho.

“You don’t remember what he died of?” I asked all eaten up bug-eyed in impatient dismay.

“No, I don’t recall anything,” Dad replied. “Wait. Something about his toe. His big toe, maybe? Hell, I don’t know. Can’t help ya there. Got work to do now. Don’t you?”

Turns out Uncle Watt died long before my Daddy was born, too, as in a little over two decades before Dad’s birth. The strangeness about Watt Bass includes those who told all those crazy wild tales about him spoke as if they were there running alongside him in the same window of time. Whenever I asked way back then how long ago did those events happen not one person seemed to know. Asking a few questions turned into an unexpected adventure in genealogy as I dove into the rabbit hole of fading memories, cryptic notes on faded paper, and incomplete information online.

He was a fun-loving guy who apparently was constantly pushing people’s buttons, telling jokes, and playing pranks like biting off the head of a giant caterpillar to pee all over Uncle Aumon, who was but a laddie-lad, too. He lived life on the wild side. Chased pretty girls but never married. Or so I was told. Which I found out was wrong, wrong, wrong as he certainly did marry. Unless I stumbled upon the tombstone of the wrong Uncle Watt. Turns out I didn’t as the correct tombstone was also the same shared with his now-deceased wife.

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My Third Wife Changes Her Name: Gender Issues, Ex-Wives, and Surname Conflicts

 

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The Blended Family Wedding of Kristina Katayama (L) and William Bass (R) with vows to their children (Morgan, Kate, & Talia) and with their Community.

I married Kristina this past 11 July 2009. She was the great love of my life at that time. We have been together over 7 years, ever since late 2001, as I write this essay. Kristina is a vibrant and dynamic woman, bold, sexy, intelligent, professional, and passionate. She lives full out as a Postmodern Age human being. We married ourselves privately in May 2005, became officially engaged back in November 2005, and intended to celebrate with a public, legal wedding in the summer of 2006. We felt too busy with careers and children, however, and lived as if already married. And in 2009 we finally did it. Up to our Wedding Day, she used her father’s family name, “Katayama,” as her own. And after our wedding she insisted on changing her name. Or, to be more accurate, adding my surname to hers.

“What?” I asked incredulously. “That’s old-fashioned culturally-ingrained male domination of females. I don’t own you. I’ve fought against this kind of bigotry my whole life.”

I had more to say, too. “I LIKE the Japanese sound of ‘Katayama.’ Mine is an “Olde English” name. I like the global feel of Bass and Katayama being together as a couple. It supports Euro-Asian-American planetary integration! My name is short and monosyllabic. Yours is long and lovely with four syllables emphasizing the same vowel. And don’t you dare hyphenate! That’s a monstrosity!” Blah blah blah.

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My Beloved & I (2001-2013)

I love this amazing woman, Kristina Katayama.

Then 12 and a half years later we divorced, darn it, but not before we dove thru our Hearts deep into the Center of the Sun.

Kristina Katayama: Businesswoman, World Traveler, Adventurer, Mom, Stepmom, my Fiance, & then my Wife. Professional Photo by Cass Redstone for Kristina, April 23, 2008, & adapted on iPhoto by William Bass, March 17, 2012. Seattle, Washington, Cascadia.

Kristina Katayama: Businesswoman, World Traveler, Adventurer, Mom, Stepmom, my Fiance, & then my Wife. Professional Photo by Cass Redstone for Kristina in Seattle on 23 April 2008, & adapted on iPhoto by William Bass for this essay on 17 March 2012. Seattle, Washington, Cascadia.

Note: Click on any photo to expand it, and click again to make it even larger. Click the back arrow to return to the essay. All photographs protected by Copyright with All Rights Reserved. Thank you, and enjoy!

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Broken Glass

My Momma always used t’say I was rough on things. And after awhile, my Daddy started saying the same thing. They called me by my middle name, and said, “Dudley, you’re rough on things!” Well, I was a very energetic little boy. Things had a tendency to break around me.

I grew up on a dairy farm in Prince Edward County in South-Central Virginia during the 1960s. I lived in a house built in the middle of what used to be a big pigpen. “Hogs,” they called ’em back then. When pigs got big they called ’em hogs. “Hawgs.” As in “Hawgs!” You could even see the straight line of trees where the old woven wire fence used to run to keep the hogs in the pen. Otherwise it was all green grass, daffodils, shade trees, pansies, irises, and vegetable gardens.

It grossed me out a few years later, though, when I got my hands on a couple of Daddy’s college textbooks on parasitic worms and other nauseating diseases associated with domestic livestock. The books showed the most graphic and horrible pictures, and I found them quite fascinating – until I realized I lived inside of an old pigpen.

My house back then was small. I could run from one end to the other, and often did. The front door opened from a small, cozy front porch into the living room on the almost-east side of the house. That flowed through a big wide walk-through into a dining room, which opened into the kitchen, which opened onto an enclosed back porch where the washing machine was. All the bedrooms, closets, bathroom, and the den were on the sorta-west side of the house. I could run all the way from the front door to the back door and back again. The full length of the house. As hard as I could. Fast!

Drove my Momma crazy. “Dudley,” she would yell, “Stop slamming the front door! Either go out and play or stay inside and be quiet.”

“Yes Ma’am!” I shouted and deciding to stay inside, charged through the house as fast as I could, my little feet drumming across the floors. That drove my Momma crazy, too.

“Dudley!” she scolded again. “Stop running in the house! Go outside and run.”

Oh, boy, but I was having too much fun.

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UFO witnessed in action from atop Mt. Erie, Washington

A group of six people, including myself, witnessed an unidentified flying object from the summit of Mt. Erie on Sunday 3 July 2011. We observed what we eventually determined to be a large, garbage-can lid type flying saucer shrink down into a bizarre high-speed orb. The other five observers were my then-wife Kristina (then age 42), my daughter Kate (age 12), and three men who appeared to be in their mid-to-late 60s. As I write this article I am 52 years old. Mt. Erie itself is a relatively short but steep mountain amid those scattered across the San Juan Islands. At 388 meters high (or 1,273 ft.) it is the most prominent in the area and dominates the Skagit River Delta region of northwestern Washington State. It also dominates Fidalgo Island and looms above a string of lakes near Deception Pass. The peak lies in the City of Anacortes park system. From the mountaintop we six saw a UFO engaged in unusual actions. Those actions were as if a machine ship or biological organism behaved as a subatomic quantum particle/wave.

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UFO Encounter in Virginia

Classic flying saucer image from the Rex Heflin Orange County case in Southern California, 3 August 1965, the same general time period the Bass Family encountered a UFO in Southcentral Virginia. Except their's wasn't saucer shaped. From: http://www.ufoevidence.org/photographs/section/1960s/Photo305.htm

Classic flying saucer image from the Rex Heflin Orange County case in Southern California, 3 August 1965, the same general time period the Bass Family encountered a UFO in Southcentral Virginia. Except their’s wasn’t saucer shaped. From: http://www.ufoevidence.org/photographs/section/1960s/Photo305.htm.

My entire family of origin had a vivid UFO experience back in the mid to late 1960s. The event was exciting, even amazing, and also at moments terrifying. For years afterwards this encounter affected my family and me in unexpected ways such as the odd actions of the FBI and weird behavior among certain people involved with this incident including myself. Ever since then I’ve had a deep, personal interest in so-called “Unidentified Flying Objects” and the controversies UFOs generated.

Despite some apprehension I feel it’s time to tell my story and some of what I’ve discovered since then. My story is long overdue, too. As I stand for transparency and full disclosure, I feel strongly We the People of Earth need to know the full truth whether or not others feel we can “handle it.” Indeed, I stand for full and immediate disclosure of all information from all organizations and institutions regarding UFOs and the immense complexity of what’s alleged to have gone on in some cases for millions of years and what goes on in our current timeframe.

The list of what so many credible whistleblowers are claiming is long, overwhelming, unexpected, and goes far beyond flying saucers, galactic empires, free energy, and underground bases. They include numerous species of ETs/ESs/EDs/IDs (extraterrestrials, extrasolarials, extradimensionals, and inter- or intra-dimensionals), Majestic 12 and other hypercompartmentalized units within Earth nation-state regimes, various breakaway civilizations, ancient even prehistoric ET and human civilizations with ruins throughout the Sol System, the Secret Space Programs (SSPs), the Inner Earth civilizations, secret societies, the German role, the Cabal/Illuminati/Elitist crime syndicates and factions, black budget ops and other USAPs or Unacknowledged Special Access Programs, advanced and hidden technologies and scientific discoveries, global economic and financial manipulation and fraud on unprecedented scales, debunking and disinformation campaigns, grotesque medical and genetic experiments on many lifeforms including Earth humans, widespread human trafficking and slavery, Solarian bases, possibilities for a Star Trek-style civilization, exopolitical ramifications, orbs and plasma life forms, an apparently extreme intergalactic A.I. or Artificial Intelligence menace more omnicidal than nuclear weapons, new understandings about the nature and possibilities of consciousness, and considerations regarding densities versus dimensions and biological evolution with spiritual ascension.

The lines between so-called academic research, mainstream mass media, alternative media, and so-called conspiracy theory first dissolve into murkiness before becoming clearer. Everything one thinks they think they know regarding consciousness, compassion, health, money, politics, religion, spirituality, war, genetics, science, energy, love, relationships, and the definition of life may well be turned upside down and inside out. No, shall be. Let’s return, however, to where and how my involvement in this labyrinthine entanglement began and back to what occurred.

Our family UFO encounter happened on a warm late afternoon after I was home from grade school following a long ride on a yellow school bus. It was dinner time. I think it was early Autumn, although it could have been Spring. I sat around the dinner table with my younger siblings. They were my sister Beth and brother Joe. Our mother bustled about in the kitchen. Our kitchen was a big farmhouse kind of kitchen, and the dinner table was pragmatically placed there off to one side of the room. Dorothy Ussery Bass was my Mama’s real name, but most people who knew her called her Dot. It feels strange to me the actual events of almost four decades ago were so dramatic I remember them in great detail but, alas, I can’t recall whether it was Spring or Fall.

We had a table full of food, however, a big family dinner farmer-style. We kids began to shove food into our mouths, which annoyed Mama. My Dad, William M. Bass, known as Bill, was away where he worked up the hill at “the Barn.” As the large cow barn with the enormous hayloft dominated the center of our dairy farm as some Medieval Great Hall, we simply called it “the Barn.” The rest of the farm’s buildings circled around the hill and ridge. The family business had long been named Riverview Dairy Farm from the proximity of Big and Little Sandy Rivers as they looped around the estate. We were in the Rice – Sandy River – Green Bay belt of northeastern Prince Edward County. This area’s in turn is located in Southside Virginia, i.e. Virginia south of the James River, in the Piedmont of rolling hills, woods, ravines, and cultivated fields.

Mama was mad because we’d started chowing down before we said the Blessing. Dad wasn’t expected home until later. As we munched down into our dinner, we heard an unexpected ruckus. Daddy burst through the back door into the house.

“Come quick!” he shouted. “There’s a flying saucer out back!”

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Boomerang Tree

Once upon a time when I was a brave and crazy fool I rode a tree like a dragon. Armed with a homemade boomerang, I was a pretty young lad somewhere in that transition between preteen to true teen. My exact age and even what grade I was in remain lost to memory. What I do remember is a gusty, late afternoon storm with cloudy skies churning the color of dark green moss. It happened in Virginia where I grew up on a farm, and I thought I was gonna die.

I felt proud of my boomerang. I’ve spent hours carving and sanding it from a piece of wood. When I whipped it through the air across the cow pastures on my parents’ dairy farm, my boomerang actually returned. It would spin away from me whirling like a helicopter propeller. As my boomerang spun it rose high and higher still, turned, and came zooming back to me. Sometimes it flopped and dug into grass and dirt and skittered off rocks. At other times, however, I had to duck as it zipped over my head. I dared not reach out to grab it. Those were the best!

My buddy Jerry Vernon and I were out in a huge cowpasture on the Gates Family Farm. Jerry’s dad worked for the Gateses milking cows and fixing fences, so we played a lot. My brother Joe, six years younger, also hung with us that day. Our dad ran the Bass farm for his uncle, who was cousins with the Gateses and further down the road the Bruces.

It was one afternoon after school, and I can’t remember if it was November or March. The weather felt heavy with a cloudy-late-afternoon-right-before-supper-time feel, and we had one eye out for bulls. Rumor had it the Gateses had turned loose a bull into the pasture to impregnate the cows, and he would snort, charge, stomp, and gore you all to bloody pieces if he discovered you simply existed. We were terrified of bulls.

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