I could easily be dictating this from a burn unit in some flashy hospital in some big city far, far away from my beloved Hillhouse.

Shortly after the 4th of July, I found myself working from home, as I often do, being that I live 70 miles from my office and my law firm is hardly profitable if I drive to Cut Bank every day.  At lunchtime, I resolved to take an hour to have what I like to call the Near Babb Gal’s Power Lunch – working like a devil in the yard during the lunch hour, trying to burn some calories.  I planned to put all the chairs back in their proper places on various patios and fire pit areas, wind up garden hoses, schlepp items from barn to barn, water the garden, weed the flower bed, etc.  Before I got going, I noted that the ever present winds were on a brief hiatus, and so I began loading up our burn barrel with a holiday weekend’s worth of paper and cardboard.

But I couldn’t get the burn barrel to light.  Impatient and ready to move forward with my cardio hour, I look around for some lighter fluid, boy scout magic, to get the barrel burning.  All the bottles were empty.  I tried again.  No flame.  At that moment, I noticed the small gas can we use to fill up the weed whacker.  I should have just noticed it and kept on about my business.  Seven years of higher education and thirty years of l-i-v-i-n should have intervened.  But I decided to pour just a splash of gas in the burn barrel, to speed matters along.

The next thing I knew, I was laying on my back on the ground next to the burn barrel, looking at the cerulean sky.  The clouds were innocent, sugar spun and frothy.  All of a sudden the realization of what had happened slammed into my foggy brain.  Clearly, I had already managed to get a small flame burning in the bottom of the barrel, where I couldn’t see it, and when I added the gas, it had caught with such a fury that it knocked me backwards.  Second grade washed over me and I thought, “stop, drop, and roll,” and I rolled from my back onto my belly.  Then I jumped up frantically and ran into the house, stripping as I ran, desperate to get the oily stench of the gasoline and the heat of the flames off of me.  I looked into the bathroom mirror and realized that I looked like Doc Brown from Back to the Future, with my hair standing straight up and frizzly gray.  I thanked God that all of my skin appeared to still be on my face, though I felt like I was on fire.  I jumped under a cool shower and clumps of my hair began circling the drain.  I perched tentatively on the shower bench, shaking with adrenaline and fear and gratitude.

Exiting the shower, I noted that my famously low hairline, that I loathed in high school and once waxed off in an attempt to have a “normal,” even hairline, was just how I had wanted it to be at 16 – even to the edges of my face.  My eyelashes were of varying lengths.  My thick eyebrows were trimmed down to their nubs, though still intact.  No other hair remained on my face, which caused me to crack a somewhat painful smile.  Small blessings.

The worst of the burn was concentrated on my right hand, peeling across my knuckles as I type this, a week later.

But I’m fine.  Wiser, and less hairy to be sure, but fine.

Today, Honeydew returned from the post office with this package:

Look closely at how this package is addressed:

“Browless Courtney Stone Fullerton.”

Inside the package, my dear friend Daryn, who always does the right thing, sent her love to my eyebrows and eyelashes.

Brow Defining Powder and Brow & Lash Growth Accelerator, from drugstore.com.

As Randy Travis sings:

Honey, I don’t care

I ain’t in love with your hair

And if it all fell out, well,

I’d love you anyway

I know you love me anyway, D.  Thanks.  I’m gonna love you forever.  Back to practicing patience and gratitude, here.  And learning how to use brow powder.

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