Scott Hollifield

When I am not being essential, I spend most of the pandemic dodging falling trees and conducting archaeological digs. That was just today, but it was a long day so it feels like that’s how I spend most of my time.

I woke up this morning — I was happy that happened — and reviewed the tasks I faced: Put out a newspaper with a depleted staff. Take part in a regional editors’ conference call. Try not to argue with stupidity on Facebook because it doesn’t make a difference. Write a column to fulfill my contractual obligations when the creative tank is as empty as the toilet paper aisle at Dollar General.

I stretched, yawned, put coffee on and looked out the window.

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?”

Sometime in the night, a giant tree had uprooted and fallen in the backyard, taking out some limbs on other trees and narrowly missing a patio table and fire pit. It was the second one in less than a year. Had it fallen while I was mowing the backyard, no one would be reading this.

It was a huge tree. If Paul Bunyan saw the tree, he would say, “That is a big-a$$ tree, dude” because that’s the way Paul Bunyan talks now.

I have a chainsaw that leaks bar oil on the floor of the shed but when you fill it back up and put in fresh gas, it hits on the second or third pull. It runs like a scalded dog and is big enough to scare children on Halloween. Unfortunately, it would not be big enough to get that entire tree into manageable chunks.

I sighed, added it to the list of pandemic chores I would need assistance with and moved along to the regional editors’ call. That call wasn’t what I would label a morale booster, more like a quick crew meeting on deck 10 minutes after the Titanic hit the iceberg.

Up in the afternoon, I took a break from home office work. The latest heavily medicated rescue dog and I went outside so she could slowly walk around for 20 or 30 minutes, sniff the groundhog hole, then return to the house and pee on the kitchen floor.

We walked up near the freshly tilled garden spot. It’s just a small strip, but it will help put some fresh food on the table during these uncertain times. I plan to raise corn, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, mangos, coconuts, peanuts — most all the nuts — and pinto beans. I’m not much of a farmer, but I expect a bumper crop.

Something caught my eye where the ground was turned. I reached down — this was the archaeological dig part — and picked it up. It appeared to be a small arrowhead. Back inside, while the dog peed on the kitchen floor, I researched arrowheads online, finding this one matched perfectly to others produced by Native Americans in this neck of the woods a long time ago. I’m not exactly sure how long ago because I had to cut the research short and get back to work, but it was a long time ago.

This was the second arrowhead I’ve found in my life, the first one 46 or so years prior in another garden spot.

“This is a lucky find,” I said to the dog when she returned to tell me she was finished in the kitchen. “It’s been a bad day so far, but perhaps my fortunes are changing.”

Or maybe not. Maybe the original owner of that arrowhead said, “Whoever finds this shall be cursed for forcing my ancestors off their rightful land. The tall trees shall fall to the ground around him. His animals shall be psychotic and require medication. His conference calls shall be full of doom and gloom.”

I hope that’s not the case, but at least I’ve once again fulfilled my contractual obligations, dodged another tree and doubled my arrowhead collection.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C., and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

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