Monthly Archives: January 2019

Dr. Carr, a Riding Shotgun Entry


My own veterinarian at work, many years after Dr. Carr’s time

Dr. Carr was a retired veterinarian by the time we knew him in the 1970’s. He was a stout cheery grumbler. He used to live behind and down the road from Eastside School on the edge of town and he had some pigs out back. Dr. Maddox sent Charles to deliver pigs one day. Charles had to grovel and squirm in the mud with the sow to help her out, kind of a wrestling match which he did win. When he was done he told Dr. Carr the bill was $12. Dr. Carr grumbled heartily. “These young vets really charge high,” he said. He’d thought his bill would be $7, maybe $8.

Later, when Dr. Carr owned a farm out the other side of town he invited us to come fishing in his pond. We always vaccinated his dog for free while we were there. We also enjoyed going to his town house across from the hospital where he’d cultivated a very nice little blueberry orchard. He used a kind of cheese cloth netting to keep the birds from eating the berries. Our family, particularly the kids and I, picked berries many times and took him a pie.

Dr. Carr loved a good story as much as anyone. He told Charles once about a time when he was a practicing vet and went out two or three miles from town to treat a cow which, unfortunately, died the next day. The client named Ernest sent word that his cow died and if Dr. C wanted pay he’d better come skin the hide. Dr. C sent word back that he wanted cash for his visit, the hide wouldn’t do. Ernest’s final word was to come get the hide, worth $5, or have nothing. Dr. Carr went out and skinned the cow.

Mrs. Carr was a sweet, dear lady, small and spry as I remember her. She went to our church, was active in missions groups, always greeted us with great interest. Dr. Carr would drop her off and then go himself to another church. After she died, Dr. Carr was perhaps a little more on the grumbly side, but he certainly didn’t turn into a hermit. He enjoyed his farm and spent a lot of time there. He’d “tinker” with his cows, then drown a worm or a dozen before riding back into town with his faithful white bulldog beside him on his truck seat. The Carrs had one son who lived with his wife a couple hundred miles away. I believe they tried to get Dr. Carr to move over with them but he didn’t want to leave his farm.

One day he was mowing around his pond when the mower toppled into the water trapping him underneath. He managed to get out alive but saw that he’d lost all but one finger and a thumb on each hand. It was a long ways across the highway to where men were harvesting pecans. He called and called to no avail and started praying hard. The men couldn’t hear him because of the roar of the pecan harvester. When he heard the machinery stop, Dr. Carr called again, and soon was on his way to the hospital.

We visited him a few days later. He was sitting up in bed doing something very odd with his bandaged hands. Charles asked him what he was doing. Dr. Carr said calmly, “Practicing for my next fishing day.”

Even now, so many years later, I think of Dr. Carr whenever I pass his farm or his little house in town. I can see his teasing grin and hear him chuckle in his cheerful grumbly kind of way.


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Winter Beauty


Indonesian cherry tree in “deep midwinter.”

Despite chilly breezes that make the wind chimes tinkle, and despite the fact that the porch is too cool for pleasant sitting–despite the calendar reminding us it’s January, the Indonesian cherry tree is in full bud. One day there was only a hint of pink along the gray branches. Two days later magenta buds like French knots were embroidered against a blue sky. Today it is coming into its glory and its neighbor the Japanese magnolia is starting to bud too.

January in Southwest Georgia can be cold and wet, and one may even see snowflakes swirl every few years. I like cold weather. I like hearing wind moaning around the corner of the house at night. I like getting cold and warming by a cozy fire. I like wearing sweaters and scarves and jackets.

But bright flowers, buds on the trees, the scent of green, a clear blue sky–yes, I like all of these too!

The camellias bloomed all through Christmas. Some of them are “going back” (a funny expression: back to where!) but others are still cheerfully bright–varying shades of pink, vibrant red, and ruffled white. Sunflower plants are growing under a bird feeder in what is supposed to be our mint bed. Pansies, which usually do best in cooler weather, are smiling somewhat feebly, but still smiling. The “yesterday, today, tomorrow” plant has a new look every day, whether more yesterdays, todays, or tomorrows. Even the roses are blooming, although sparingly. It’s time to prune them but it goes against the grain to prune anything while it’s blooming. Much to my surprise, I found one hibiscus bloom hiding from the cold on the backside of a bush.

I thought I should report there are no ground flowers, no bluets or tiny nameless yellow flowers, no violets. But when I walked around the yard (excuse me, Brits, the garden), I found four violets. There were four white violets crowded close to each other as if for company. On each one, amongst other petals, was one marked by fine brush strokes of purple.

We can look at all these lovely blooms and shudder to think how brown they may be in a few days when a frost hits. But I see them as brave and willing to take a risk in order to bring beauty in the “deep midwinter.”

We are mourning this week with a family whose wife and mother died of Parkinson’s. It is an emotional wintertime for them. I pray they will find comfort in seeing camellias blooming. The girls’ mother took such joy in the beauty of camellias and loved to share them with others. As her pastor said, she didn’t want to be defined by Parkinson’s but rather by her love of the Lord and her love of sharing.

Winter, wherever it finds you, like all the seasons, can be beautiful.

Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11

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