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Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

Inky, oh why did you have to leave? When an octopus in a New Zealand aquarium sets out to escape by pushing up out of his tank, slithering along the floor to a drain, sliding through that drain which then connects to the ocean, I suppose we could make a movie about it. Eight Legged Escape! Inky the Octopus Is Free! Inky Makes Like A Slinky Down the Drain! Okay, so an octopus with a plan has inspired the masses to ponder what it would be like to bust loose.

There is something about being caged or in captivity that doesn’t set well with us. We want to break free, run away from our captors and never look back. A chimpanzee named Chacha broke out of a zoo in Japan and started to do the cha-cha on top of power poles. He also hung from the telephone wires and looked like he was having the time of his life! Chacha became a trapeze artist swinging around the wires at thirty feet. Of course, he could have been electrocuted, so his good time had to end when he was shot with a stun gun and tumbled to the workers below who were holding out a blanket to break his fall. When he woke up they fed him extra bananas.

Sometimes we just want to be somewhere else. It seems most living things do not want to be contained. Open the gate! Unlatch the door! Tear down that wall! Could the desire to be free be in our DNA? Or, perhaps we just have important places to go. My neighbor sold a few of his chickens to another neighbor, not realizing that his rooster loved those chicks. Now we have a rooster that takes a walk each day up the country lane so he can visit his missing chickens. He shows great determination in this endeavor and cannot be stopped! He will “fly the coop” to go on his mission! Who knew a rooster could be so headstrong?

I had a horse named Angel who did not like latches on stalls or locks on gates. She was a clever little mare who had a knack for opening up gates and setting the rest of the horses free. When I first got Angel, I blamed myself (okay, and often my husband) for not latching the stall gates properly. What else could explain a horse walking around the property and even going for a visit over to the neighbor’s place? But soon enough, we realized we had a Houdini on our hands. Angel was a genius at unlatching all manner of gates and doors. And, she liked to set a few of the other horses free.

One day while pruning roses in the front yard I was startled to hear the pounding of running horses racing up my dirt road past the house. Wait, aren’t those my horses? How did they get out? More importantly, where the heck are they going? Angel, leading the herd at a cantor was off like a horse gone wild. By the time I got a few lead ropes and jumped on my ATV, I noticed they had run about a quarter mile away and were standing around eating grasses and weeds by the side of the road. We have a pasture full of grass! I got behind them and they trotted back home. That day I got a few padlocks.

I have four grandsons and one of them, named Sean, was a runner. (Sean, if you are reading this, please stop). He could not be contained when he was a child! Going to a park, an event, a theater usually ended up with him making a dash for it and the adults running after him trying to grab him. He was quick and would run through peoples’ legs and under chairs and finally at a Sea World, we reached the limit. My daughter and I lost him for a full five minutes of terror (and he was only three or four years old). That day I bought a harness for him.

No, it is not a leash, although a few people gave us hard looks and whispered things like, “they have that poor little boy on a rope.” Yes, and if you have ever seen how fast a child can run (and hide), or lost a chimp, a dog, an octopus or a horse, you know that sometimes you need to get a bigger lock and a maybe a rope is not such a bad idea!

Of course, the nature of running, breaking free, going to someplace that we have never been and aren’t supposed to go is maybe the thrill of the Great Escape. We like the wind at our back and the road in front of us. Perhaps we have a purpose, a reason to leave. Or sometimes it is just pushing past those boundaries that will make us happy. We want to pick the lock, throw open that door, or slide through the drainpipe and head out to sea. We’ll do whatever it takes to be free. So this week, Dear Readers, tear down those walls that are holding you back! Locks can be broken! Set yourself free.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor.  Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at