Monday, February 14, 2011


copyright 2011 Seven Roads Gallery Inc.

In between winter and spring there's a season not known to city folks.  It's called mud season.  This year it began a bit before Valentine's Day. On Sunday last the thermometer hit 52 degrees.  Downright balmy.  Today as Mandy and I hit the road, the sun is shinning, the sky is bright blue and it's 40 degrees in the shade on the north side of the house.  I guffaw when I see the road sign above.  Some wag with foresight not only decorated the highway sign at the corner, but also marked the sign warning of the upcoming intersection.

Mud season ain't pretty.  When I splash across the one lane, narrow bridge over Elk Creek on East River Road, I leave teardrops of mud over the entire right side of my car.  In the yard on the ridge at the Amish farm, all the sins of winter appear. Horse hockey and more.  Snow turns to slick ice and small lakes form in low spots.  I'm thankful the melt is slow and protracted.  The National Weather Service says there's three to four inches of water in that snow.  Rivers are expected to crest near flood stage.  They've broken it down to per cent probabilities.  The Kickapoo which runs by our house, they say, has a 90% probability of reaching the flood stage.  Jerry's garage in Viola will be moving the used cars off his lot in the next few weeks.

Mandy's urge to disguise herself to wild animals results in rolling in manure, mud and gore.  As I write, she's sulking on her "chair".  At first I wiped her down with warm, wet terry cloth towels.  I couldn't get all the dirt off the white parts of her fur.  I put her in the bath tub downstairs and poured a pitcher of warm water over her shoulders.  Next,  I resort to a mild shampoo.  As I lather her up and reach for the pitcher she leaps out of the tub and runs into the kitchen.  I wrestle her back to the bathroom which leaves my arms and jeans soaked.  This time, I remember to close the bathroom door.  "Stay", I tell her.  Making sharp pointy motions with my index finger, she looks at me as if I'm Attila the Hun and have just ransacked her village. 

Several escapes later, I'm drying her off with a bath towel and wiping up the bathroom floor.  Looking at the bright side, I rationalize that the bathroom floor hasn't been mopped for a while. She runs to the back door as if she's got urgent business. I let her out and she finds a sunny spot in front of the shed to dry off. Later I escort her inside, afraid that she'll find more crap to roll in.

My wife and I are sensible folk.  Years of holiday experiences teach us to avoid restaurant specials on New Year's Eve, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. It doesn't always work because there are other sensible people like us out there.  This year, however, we avoided crowds and pricey meals that line the pockets of local businesses. I take her out for wood fired brick oven pizza at a local bar.  Dawn lays a card and a small white box on my pillow.  Shoot. I forgot to get her a card.

Not wanting to appear the cad or another grumpy, busy  farmer I race to the gift shop in town for a single red rose.  The place is hopping.  There are at least a half dozen people working on Valentine's Day bouquets, balloons and floral decorations.  The man next to me holding a small child in his arms picks out a an arrangement of flowers in a cooler.  I gulp at the price.  $26.50. The single red rose I pick from a selection of roses the clerk holds up, garnished with a fern, Baby's Breath, red tissue and a tiny plastic bud vase costs me $4.22.  I've got three singles and change in my pocket.  I hand the older woman assisting customers a credit card, slightly embarrassed to be charging such a paltry amount.  When she walks away with my card, I fish in my pocket.  Counting the change and the three singles, I have exactly $4.20. The owner of the gift shop tells me not to worry about the two pennies, but when the older woman returns, she's got two slips in her hand and my card.  They've gone electronic since the last time I made a purchase.  The manual "kerchunker" as we called it when I first started in business is gone and they are online.  I scrape the bills and coins off the counter, thanking the ladies profusely.

On my way back home, the low fuel icon comes on.  Another, "shoot".  Turn around, drive the two miles back to the gas station in town where the price of fuel is higher than at the BP station I usually buy gas.I'll make a homemade card, give Dawn the rose in one of many jars stashed in the summer kitchen and hope for an inspiration about dinner.     

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