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Stories from Bernie's current trip - a mule voyage from Canada to Mexico

Ted's "Arrow Through the Bottle" Mystery
May 18, 2007

I’m into answers. On this mule journey, I’m learning more about the Lost Sea, the sea that, millions of years ago, stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Sea. I want to know why the baculite fossil has that funny tube at the top (It helped the critter regulate its buoyancy as it navigated the Lost Sea). I want to know why the Lost Sea Wagon squeaks so badly that, when it drops into a gopher hole, it deafens Prairie Dog Town (I haven’t greased the springs).


“what’s that noise, bernie…?”

Still, there are mysteries I don’t want answered because, as much as I pride myself in being Answer Driven, I just like that little void feeling of being stumped out here on the Great Wide Open. It gives the mind something to chew on as the needle-and-thread grass rolls by and the tumbleweeds bounce toward the horizon.

Take Ted’s bottle.

The Great Plains are known for terrific winds and rain. The other stormy day, Ted and Gertie Fladeland of Glamar offered to put mule Polly up in their barn. After Polly was bedded down hock-deep in Canadian straw, Ted brought me inside to thaw out.


Ted’s barn


Ted and Polly

Now you have to understand that the folks I’m visiting are a self-entertaining bunch. Of good Norwegian stock, the Fladeland clan, especially Ted, spend their cold rainy days, not hovering over a computer or TV, but working in the shop. Ted’s forte is woodwork.

With me parked at the kitchen table, coffee cup in hand, he showed me his handiwork.


Ted Fladeland
Gladmar, SK

First came, “tables and chairs for little folks that move a lot.” Ted showed me a block of wood he’d sawed into three tables and six matching chairs. Apart, they could have furnished a Lilliputian apartment for eight.



Together, they made a block of wood that fit into Ted’s palm. There was no blue-print for this treasure. Rather, Ted worked it all out in his head.


Stacked furniture

Impressive.

Then I saw the bottle.

“How did I do it?” Ted asked, handing me a glass bottle with an arrow shot through it.

Hmmm….

I inspected the bottle and missile. No tricks here. It was just a bottle with a hole in it and an arrow thrust through the opening. The arrow’s fletches and head were larger than the hole.

Hmmm…

“I didn’t glue it,” Ted offered as I inspected the arrow, searching for a tell-tale glue line where the arrow had been split, pushed through the bottle and reassembled. “In fact I guarantee you that you can send it to whatever lab you want and have it analyzed.”

Hmmm….

Ted went on to show me a whole array of objects he’d shot arrows through. Washers, bottles, even a pair of shot glasses.



The real mind blower was an arrow shot through an arrow that had already pierced a bottle.



This arrow and bottle thing was turning out to be a real stumper. Finally, I broke down and asked Ted how he’d pulled off the stunt.

“Well,” he said with a wink and a hint of a Norwegian accent, “I put a bottle on Gertie’s head. Then I put an arrow in my bow and, while Gertie stands real still, I shoot that arrow right through the bottle.”

“No really,” I tried again, “How do you do it?”

“Like I said, I put a bottle on Gertie’s head…” This time I got the hint. Ted was handing me a gift. A secret to be pondered as I traveled across the Plains.

The next day the weather cleared and Ted sent me up the road – yes with a bottled arrow. I tucked it onto a shelf of the Lost Sea wagon, just by the front door, where I could pull it out on the straight stretches of road. As the prairie rolled slowly by, I inspected, and reinspected, the Great Plains oddity. I still haven’t figured out how Ted got that arrow through the bottle.

And I don’t want to. Here’s why.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to do the obvious, hamfisted thing to solve the arrow-through-the-bottle mystery. Nope, I’m not going to Google articles on how to stick an arrow through a bottle. Because that would ruin the mystery that adds to the magic of a guy being able to roll over these prairies, passing the time, no, not with an iPod crammed in his ears, but twirling a bottle around an arrow. A bottle that had an arrow shot through it by a Norwegian with a wife that didn’t finch. Now that’s something to be savoured.

So please, don’t email me saying “I know how Ted did it!” That would ruin the magic of traveling through a land where folks still know how to keep themselves, and wagons passing through, occupied.


Bernie and Polly take a Prairie Mystery Break
Neptune, SK

Any ideas how Ted did it? Please don’t tell me.

Have a great day and enjoy the mysteries that carry you across your personal Great Plains.

Bernie
RiverEarth.com
In Plentywood, Montana getting Polly harnessed to go to the drive-in theater

PS: Thanks Ted and Gertie Fladeland for sheltering and entertaining mule Polly and me this week. Bernie

Posted Friday May 18, 2007 by Bernie


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