I snoozed a bit as my wife took her Saturday constitutional in the mall today. I would have wandered around outside a while to keep my own joints limbered up, but it looked like it could rain any minute. It had already rained some in the night and sprinkled on the windshield on our way there. After picking her up in my chariot, I drove her next door to Wally World, so she could memorize barcodes for a while. On the way, I noticed that the ditch they’d cleaned out a few weeks ago was sprouting cattails, so apparently they didn’t get the roots. The tips were dead, where they’d been nipped by a late frost, but only four inches or so. I’m going to try to keep an eye on them this year and harvest some flower heads when they’re at the edible stage. It’s been nigh 40 years since I’ve had any, but I remember them tasting like a cross between corn-on-the-cob and asparagus.
I drove clock-wise around Wally World so I could let the missus off on her side and keep her out of the traffic. The river lot in back of the store is owned by a local businessman (now retired, I think) who has a big boat launching area, a large dock and a huge picnic shelter located there. Unless it was his own people, a large group of mixed age, but predominately older, people were having a cook-out. Many, especially the older folks, were rather dressed up for a cook-out, so I wondered if it might have been a birthday or anniversary celebration for someone older, a civic group “roughing it,” or perhaps a family reunion. Older folks still tend to dress up a bit more for events than younger folks. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s true.
After dropping my wife off at the garden center door, I circled the store once again and parked at the “up-river” end of the lot. Being a country “kid,” it always amazes me how few people have any idea which way the local rivers flow, even when they’re standing beside them.
I snoozed a bit, read some scripture from the little Gideon New Testament that I keep in the truck, and did a little people-watching. The little book was given to me my fifth year at the little country school where I first attended. The following year, they bused us in town to go to school with all the city-slicker kids at a new poorly-designed but socially-accepted “school of the 20th century.” Most of us would have preferred to have stayed in the country.
After an hour or so, I noticed two older ladies climb into the SUV opposite me, and then saw a bit of paper and cellophane fly from the driver’s window. Disgusted, I looked at the woman and saw a stogie clamped firmly in the left side of her mouth. She saw me looking and acted insulted as she drove off. She probably didn’t know that any disgust on my face wasn’t over the stogie, but the litter; I could still enjoy a good stogie, too, if I’d allow myself to do so. They seemed to be well-dressed, so were probably financially comfortable enough. Money and class have nothing in common, I learned long ago. You can be poor and still have class, or you can be rich and still be rubbish. Your actions and attitudes determine what you are, not your pocket-book. A few minutes later, my eyes were closed when I heard a vehicle pull into the same space, a door open and what sounded like a metal can fall to the pavement. “Here we go again,” I thought. But no, the poor-looking young woman picked up the can and placed it back in the vehicle, a case in point. I literally prayed that the Lord would bless the young woman for her decency and consideration.
I’d planned to work on my maul when I got home, but decided to hone my double-bitted axe before I used it. As I sat on the edge of the front porch and worked the round stone in circular motions over the blade, I remembered the times, decades ago, when I sat only 125 feet farther toward the road and did the same thing. I was too little to be much help off-bearing the mill yet, but I still wanted to contribute in some way, so Dad suggested that I sharpen the double-bitted axes that we used in the woods and for clearing pasture. So, I’d sit on the upper end of the skidway and whet the axes, while he and his helper worked, the old International U9 gasoline power unit rumbled and the belt whirred on its trip to and from the pulley (shiv) on the end of the saw mandrel a few feet away. I got one blade of each axe sharp enough to shave my arm before moving on to the next one. Of course, my arm-hair was only peach-fuzz at the time, but they’d shave Dad’s arm, too. He’d always give me a smile of approval when he tested them likewise. Incidentally, the second blade on each axe was sharpened to a reasonable sharpness, but nowhere near to shaving ability. That was so it could be used for grubbing, where it might hit a rock.
I never got any work done on the maul today. The old tater-wagon was traveling not that far to the north, and my workshop for the day was under a tall white oak. It seemed best not to tempt fate. Since that time, it’s rolled to the east, and is now traveling on the south side of our home in a westward direction. I hope it continues to stay away, but who knows. I’d like to have some taters, but not THAT kind! © 2014