Archive | March 2021

Devil Winds

Devil winds can’t be seen unless they pick up dust, drying hay or water, but you sure can feel the sassy little things if they decide to rearrange your hair.

Rain drops speckled the office window. I stared at my dreary wind-and-rain swept yard with a hot mug of tea in hand. As more and more rain fell, the drops formed rivulets and trickled down out of sight. The smell of bacon from breakfast still hung in the air. Tammie, sitting in the office recliner was working online. I could hear the soft tappity-tap of her keyboard.

Taking a sip of the hot drink, I savored its comforting warmth and taste. I complained, “March is such an unsettling month.”

Looking up from her computer, my daughter asked, “I forget, did the month come in like a lion or a lamb this year?”

Turning to face my daughter, I exclaimed, “That’s what’s wrong with March and spring in general. It has such extreme weather from one day to the next and sometimes from one hour to the next.”

Nodding, Tammie wistfully commented, “When I left the house more often, it was hard to know how to dress on spring mornings. If I left the house without a jacket because it was hot, by the time I returned home in the afternoon, I’d be shivering because it was snowing and there were two inches of slush on the sidewalk.”

I added, laughing, “I’ll bet you left home other mornings bundled up against freezing temperatures and within hours, you wanted to know if there was some way to take off your coat and heavy sweater while caught in a traffic jam.”

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Making the Rounds

The unexpected feeling came over me suddenly. I went to stand at my office window. Surveying the blanket of wet snow lying heavily on the flowerbed along the driveway, I cupped my cold hands around a mug of hot tea. Until now, I hadn’t given a thought to the plants and bulbs in my yard since the first major frost in September.

A mix of curiosity and desire, along with a deep, longing to see things growing in the yard where now everything looked dead and frozen filled me. I wanted to know if the daffodils, crocus and grape hyacinths in the flowerbed were going to come up and blossom this spring. Would the herbs I’d planted near the trees along the south driveway flourish or wither this summer?

What triggered my unfulfilled gardener symptoms? I suspected the warm, forty-degree days Wisconsin enjoyed the last week of February. That, and the combination of a snow-covered yard, below-zero days and a five-month respite from gardening gets to the best of us. My mind wanted to jump back into digging in the ground, even though the weather and my body were signaling the desire was at least two months premature.

I complained to my daughter Tammie, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way yet. We’re still at least a full month away from “Making the Rounds” weather!”

Raising one eyebrow, Tammie questioned, “What’s ‘making the rounds weather’?”

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Recording Milestones

Tammie sat down on the kitchen step stool while I was preparing supper. She demanded, “Tell me about when I was born.”

I smiled, picked up a potato and began to peal it. Today was Tammie’s eighth birthday. When I was a child, I had often asked my mother the same question. There is no topic more interesting to a child than the day they were born. With each retelling, there is hope for additional nuggets of information. I explained, “You were born by caesarean section, because of your low blood platelet problem.  With your sisters, I just waited until I went into labor. For you, the doctor picked Monday February 22nd, which was a little more than one week before your due date.” 

Tammie prompted, “The day before I was born, you went to eat Sunday dinner at Grammie’s house.”

Dropping the peeled potato into the kettle and picking up another, I agreed, “Yes, and it was a wonderful dinner as always. My brother Casper provided homemade cranberry wine to go with the meal. I could only taste it because I was pregnant with you, but I liked it. I think that’s why Casper gave me a bottle of cranberry wine every year for the rest of his life.”

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Instinctive Scientist

I didn’t bring the poinsettia plant in from the deck one night when we had frost. It lost every single leaf. Knowing it would try to make a comeback, I put it in an upstairs bedroom and watered it. When the first leaves came out, I was very happy. It seems to be happy, too. It has decided to blossom for me in February.

Mom opened the oven door and placed a pan of raw cookies inside. I felt the oven breathe heat into the room. I was sitting nearby at the head of the kitchen table. I reached into a bowl on the table and pulled out a handful of peanuts in the shell. As I shelled them, I popped the pale-colored peanuts into my mouth. They were unsalted.

I stated, “I want salt.” Mom turned from cleaning the cupboard and handed me a salt shaker. Shelling more nuts, I discovered the salt refused to stick to the dry peanuts. I licked them and tried again. This time the salt stuck. An idea popped into my mind. I would shell a bunch of nuts, wet them with water, put them on a small pan and shake salt over them. Then, I’d ask Mom to put the pan in the oven. She wouldn’t let me do it myself, because I was only six-years-old.

Mom agreed to my request and placed the nuts on a small, metal syrup-can lid that she used to test cookies. A few minutes later when she took them out, she instructed, “Wait until they’re cool.”

I grabbed a hot peanut when she wasn’t looking. To my dismay, it was chewy. As if knowing what I’d done, Mom chuckled, “When the nuts are cool, they’ll be crunchy again.” She was right. My roasted, salted peanuts were delicious and I felt clever.

Figuring out on my own how to salt and roast peanuts was the start of my life-long career as an instinctive scientist.

One day when I was eight, I opened my brother Casper’s bedside table drawer to look at the fascinating things he kept in there. There were springs, sprockets, batteries, tubes of industrial strength bubble material, bulbs, coins, bits of wire and string. I began to put the things that fascinated me the most on the table top, end to end. When I placed a wire against the end of a battery and a small bulb against the other end of the wire, I saw a flash of light in the bulb. Flashlights had already been invented, but I was excited to realize I was a re-inventor.

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Going Bald

I wiped my lips with the napkin, put it down on the empty plate and asked my friend, who was sitting across from me in the booth, “Would you like to go shopping with me this afternoon?”

My friend finished chewing an ice cube before she questioned, “Where do you plan to shop?”

Looking up from studying the meal receipt, I named one of the local resale stores I like to visit. I saw the slightest frown on my friend’s face before she hesitantly admitted, “I don’t know if I feel very interested in buying used clothing.”

Shrugging, I pointed out, “I don’t have a problem with used clothing. Everything in my closet at home is used. Most of the clothing at the resale store is newer than the stuff I own. When I take clothing home, I wash it. Then those things truly, completely belong to me by the rights of soap and water.”

Leaning forward, my friend asked skeptically, “Don’t you think the clothes that end up in a resale shop are poor-quality rejects?”

Shaking my head, I pondered, “I think there are several reasons why clothing and household items end up in resale stores. The people who owned the stuff were sick of it, or due to weight gain or loss, the clothing no longer fit. I’ve found lots of clothing with expensive name brands that I could never afford brand new. These things fit, are clean and have no rips or snags. Once in a while you will find something that is defective in some small way. Overall, shopping at resale stores is like going on a treasure hunt. You never know what fantastic thing you’ll find.”

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