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‘Back’ to basics: A slam-dunk

Mike Drummond

The other day I arrived home at Clear Creek Ranch to find I was blocked by the PG&E brush clearers. Their yellow truck and giant chipper was parked in the driveway. These guys come by every fall and stare at their easement – a bushy, 50-yard length under the power lines.

Usually they spend a week blockading me while they act surly and move in slow motion as they create abstract topiary from the scrub oaks and toyon bushes. But not this time.

They were gone in three hours. They felled half a dozen good-sized oaks of various denominations, separated and stacked the debris away from the potential firewood, and were gone.

The key word is “potential.” What they left me was a bunch of horizontal, denuded trees that needed to be cut to length, carted up a slippery hillside, split, stacked and aged for a year or more. Then I’d have firewood – and a sore back. Nothing potential about the sore back, that was a certainty.

We often make accidental discoveries here at the ranch. Usually they are of the mundane variety, such as misplaced reading glasses resurfacing from the “Great Mound of the Unread” on the coffee table. Not much science to it, just random chance.

But lately, strange things have been happening – miraculous cures. I can’t call it science, and I doubt it is “the hand of God,” unless we are talking Norse gods like Thor and his connection to oak trees of both the vertical and horizontal persuasions.

That hillside, the same slippery one up which I’d just carted all those logs, cured my sore back. It had help, of course. A thick carpet of acorns, a fresh mud puddle, and my well-worn, flat-on-the-bottom Birkenstocks. When I sidestepped the puddle, my feet skated out from under me as if I were skidding on black ice, and I slammed into the ground, flat on my back.

Other than the momentary embarrassment of being covered head-to-toe in mud, dead leaves and moss (a fairly common occurrence out here), I was fine. Better than that, my stiff neck, the twinge in my hip, and the bursitis in my left shoulder were gone.

I don’t mean I was distracted momentarily and forgot about those aches and pains. They no longer existed.

Whenever I recounted my story, someone would “top” it. For example, a crippled old dog about to fall from an open car door was saved when her owner grabbed her by the tail. Saved, and cured.

The resulting yank apparently realigned the dog’s spine, relieved whatever was pinching, and the dog moved normally for the first time in years. The owner, however, is being sued by a veterinarian for the unlicensed practice of chiropractic, pet endangerment, and more.

There were stories about how personalities changed after a blow on the head. Several folks hinted that I should try and land on my head the next time I slip.

As usual, we are short of funds here at the ranch, so I’m trying to find the silver lining in all those acorns. Perhaps a fancy day-spa deal where backachey folks are issued crash helmets, sign a waiver and head for my slippery slope.

If they land face down in that puddle, I’ll call it a “slam-dunk” and charge extra for the organic mudpack facial. Scratches from chaparral twigs will be billed as wild-crafted dermabrasion therapy.

But I’ll have to keep it quiet. If PG&E finds out I’m making money off of them, they are bound to raise my rates.

As if they need an excuse.

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945


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