We have six mature oak trees on our property, which means that we benefit from their shade during the hot summer months as well as the birds and critters that flit and frolic amongst their branches.  That being said every fall I have (roughly) six ka-gillion leaves to rake, blow, mulcherize, pull, round-up and literally “rodeo” to the curb of our property.  It’s good exercise, if you believe criss crossing your yard with a high-pitched leaf blower three feet from your head while inhaling a mixture of gasoline & oil exhaust fumes is good exercise, but I kinda like doing it the first time of the fall…it’s the next two or three times in the following weeks that get under my skin. 

Anyway…I’ve noticed another great and wonderful skill that I have while working in the yard.  Our city has given each resident a “yardy”.  It’s a big green ‘trash can’ with wheels and a lid that you’re supposed to put grass clippings, leaves, small branches, egg shells, vegetable & table scraps, and the like into and then the city empties it once a week and composts those ingredients into a steamy pile of nutrient rich peat (which they sell to someone who loves the smell of steaming peat I suppose).  I was under the assumption that outdated deviled eggs were included on the list of “yardy acceptable items” but they’re not and the ensuing foul stench that gripped our backyard for that hot & humid July week that they were in the yardy had the dead in the local cemetery complaining (but the neighbors dogs absolutely loved it) “what is that intoxicating aroma!?”  Back to the story at hand about my newfound marvelous skill.  With so many trees we have a lot of dead branches that fall to the ground that need to be picked up and put into the yardy, and me being the non-ambitious person I am, choose to throw these dead branches towards wherever the yardy is parked (usually across the yard, or about sixty feet away).  At first I was just throwing them towards the yardy to get the branch close, but I noticed how close I was getting the branches; sometimes actually hitting the yardy, so I put a little more concentration into my effort and violaI’m throwing in branches from sixty feet away!  It got to the point where I stopped mowing and raking and just walked around the back yard looking for sticks and branches to throw (this is another reason that my neighbors shy away from me…I’m sure of it).  Distance was not a factor.  Thirty feet, swish.  Fifty feet into the wind, swish.  Twenty-five feet, rotten branch thrown overhand…banked it in.  Forty feet, thrown underhand with a slow backwards rotation…nailed it.  Fifteen-foot hook shot…rattled it in.  I was un-freakin’-conscious!

I was in what we athletes call “the zone”.  I moved the yardy to our front yard and started chucking branches again.  Same result.  My two old neighbor men, Dick and Bob, watched me with sheer boredom in their eyes as I juked and head-faked imaginary defenders out of position until I was clear to take another shot towards the yardy.  Swish!!!  I probably shamed them into not watching me anymore since they’re unable to perform this amazing feat of dexterity, skill and eye hand coordination.  Dick, eighty plus years old, waved me off after one of my “behind my back” shots caromed off of my pick up truck and into the yardy, while Bob retired to his lawn chair while nursing a bruised ego and cold ice Michelob Ultra.  (Kinda tears me up that they don’t appreciate a natural skill like this).

I began to wonder, “Where I might be ranked” if branch throwing were a national or even (dare I say)…professional world sport.  Probably top five nationally, top ten worldly (I’m just a humble country boy, or I’d so be top three).  Hell…if it were an Olympic sport I’d be the toast of America…but it ain’t. And what kind of endorsement cash would I be able to make?  “Hi folks, Rich Ripley here, famous American, native Iowan and Twelve Time Branch Throwing World Champion.  Whenever I have pain, which is now, I use Fred’s Atomic Sports Balm to help the old arm & shoulder to quit throbbing.  Made with all natural ingredients and just a hint of kerosene, Fred’s Atomic Sports Balm will have you on your feet in no time at all!”  Or “Hi folks, Rich “Captain Incredible” Ripley here.  Ya know…in my world travels nothing makes the old Ripman feel more at home than great BBQ…that’s why I take Famous Dave’s BBQ sauces with me wherever I go. China, Africa, Europe, Ohio…I take them everywhere.  It makes even the worst food more palatable, and I oughta know…I’m Rich Ripley.”  Or new cutting edge medicines like “Hi guys, you know me as Defending Twelve Time Branch Throwing World Champion Rich Ripley, but I’m also a middle aged man…just like most of you, and I suffer from the same aches, pains and issues as you…that’s why the good folks at Ripley Industries have developed a product that will revolutionize Men’s medicine.  We’ve teamed up with the makers of Rogaine, Viagra and Easy Ed’s Laxatives to form a powerfully wonderful drug that will ‘get ya going’ on two fronts (don’t worry boys…the laxative is time released so you’ve got a couplea hours, but seriously…don’t screw around too long) while the Rogaine gets the old scalp percolating with a new crop of thick, lush hair ($25 extra of you want to be a red-head).  Order it today via the RICHRIPLEY.WORDPRESS.COM website or just call the 1-800 RICHRIPLEY toll-free hotlineSmokin’ hot operators are waiting to hear from you!”

Anyway…I ran out of branches and Dick wasn’t about to let me use his branches, the jealous old coot, so I had to get back to mowing and leaf raking, sans the world fame and endorsement booty. At least the rotten egg smell has gone away.

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