My dad had a fool-proof plan to get his yard-work done easily and painlessly (for him). Let the leaves and tree debris pile up pretty high in the fall and spring. Mention casually a couple of times, “You kids are gonna’ have to clean up this yard in a few days.” Let a couple of days pass so they hope you’ve forgotten or gone blind. Come home from work on Friday afternoon in a jovial mood. This works best if you are normally a real grouch. It’s best if one of your brothers is visiting and your kids ask to spend the night with Cousin Becky, Susan, or Joey. Implement step #1
“No, Y’all have to clean the yard tomorrow, but they can stay with you if they want to help.”
He was serious about them staying, always hoping to get a little of work out of them. Even though there were no Einstein’s in our family, no cousin was ever that dumb.
“No, I am not staying! I don’t wanna’ clean the yard!” They were in the car before the screen door slammed.
Step #2 The next morning he’d roll us out at six am, anticipating a good day. We didn’t talk much at breakfast, especially avoiding the words yard, sweep, work, and leaves. It’s amazing how often a word jumps out when you are studiously avoiding it. “Billy didn’t LEAVE any jelly for me.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll get all the LEAVES you want today.” He made crappy jokes, playing on our dread.
Finally, he’d push his chair back, “Time for the friendships to end and the work to begin.”
I would have enjoyed flailing the genius from whom he’d picked up that cruel witticism. He routed us into the one-acre yard where the lecture began. “Now, get the wheelbarrow, rake, and yard broom. I want all these sticks picked up first. Then one of you can rake, the other sweep and the other pick up the leaves and haul them back yonder to the burn pile. Now, I mean for this yard to be clean when I get home.”
With that, he was off to whatever he had planned that day. The task looked endless, with drifted leaves from dozens of trees, shrubs, and fallen sticks. I would have gladly traded places with Sisyphus and his rock.
We had to fight a while before we got started. Phyllis was the oldest, so she commandeered the yard broom, the prize implement. Billy and I got stuck with the rake and wheelbarrow for loading and hauling leaves. Of course, we had to fight a while before we made a good start. Mother usually brought the little girls out and redirected us before she got back to her work of the day.
Step #3 Cleaning that yard would have been a huge job for a yard-proud person. Three fighting kids cleaning a yard didn’t go that well. The first time or two, we were of the mistaken belief we could make a pathetic excuse and get by with a half-done job. Daddy was of the opinion that no well-balanced kid could get through a day without a good whooping, anyway, so he was happy to oblige. He frequently quoted, “I might as well whip y’all first thing in the morning and get it over with.” A few stripes paid off handsomely in the next day’s efforts, and he had the satisfaction of knowing he hadn’t “spared the rod and spoiled the child.” We were motivated to do the job right.
Yes, indeed, Daddy knew how to get his yardwork done in three easy steps. Just so you know, I am not advocating this plan.
We just love making somethings out of nothing. Spring is here and I have been working overtime finding lots of nothings. Bud is retired. His new full-time job is helping me make somethings out of them. Today was my first day to really get out and fill this Continue reading
Mother and our friend Dana took a day trip to a local Jonquil Festival Saturday. After so much rain and dreary weather, it was a glorious gift. We spent the day tramping through displays, enjoying the glorious blooms. The sunshine and blooms sent my mood off the Joy Scale.
Later we found a wonderful old abandoned house. Can you imagine how many times this old door must have been slammed by children as they came in calling, “Mama, Mama!’ ? Late-arriving teenagers must have crept in quietly, hoping not to be caught. Drunken husbands may have banged it as they came in late after blowing their whole paycheck, not caring that a furious wife lay waiting. New mothers opened it, bringing their new babies home to meet Grandma and Grandpa. Hopefully, it opened to more good times than bad.
This shady side porch must have seen wonderful times. The family probably sat here to shell peas or eat watermelon. They probably ate out here on hot summer afternoons and evenings, as the babies napped, flies buzzing on the screen. Likely, they’d have pulled their beds out here in summer to catch a breeze. This is the haven to visit with neighbors in rockers and straight back wooden chairs as children shrieked and chased fireflies and young people slipped into the shadows to court.
Some moments in life are so special, you’ll never capture them again. I was fortunate enough to share one of these with my mother and her tiny great-grandson a few years back. On her first visit with him, she savored every precious moment as we strolled in the park. They were a sweet pair mirrored in the fountain, spring and fall. He giggled as he dabbled his tiny toes, rippling the cool water. She shared his joy, till she spotted the used condoms floating on its surface! I thought he’d get whiplash as she snatched him back!
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