Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Is There Hay In Your Bed Today?

What did you do yesterday?

Me, I was exhausted. I’m a little enervated by an illness, still. I attended a wedding fete on Saturday, drank icewater for the toast, mostly sat around while everybody else carried on, and my wife still had to carry me home on my shield. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for Sunday.

It was my niece’s sixteenth birthday. My little brother has big children now. We were invited. I figured I could find a chair there as well as here, and there’s a chair in the car, of course, so I gave it a go. We had a fine time, with interesting and sociable people, and we did the usual thing with the scorched meat on the grill. But there was more.

My brother and his wife like odd plants. A lot of them. Their yard is a mess; the best kind. It’s a riot of disparate plantings, almost in the British style, but not quite, with fantastic blooms and wandering butterflies everywhere. There were garden snakes to delight the tots, and finches to trill to the ladies, and hummingbirds and hawks to make the sky a scene worthy of the attention the whole time. I am not allowed in the sun, so I sat in the shade of the porch and its wisteria vine gone wild, and the bees bumbled around me and the little birds cut the corner and tickled my ear on their way to their nests and the feeders. It was lovely.

Then a fork appeared in the road. The fork is worthy of your attention. The virtual world diverged from the actual one. Tell me which one you’d like to inhabit:

My older son would not come out of the basement. Concrete floor, clutter, dust, an old TV set, and the Guitar Hero video game. All the participants were five years older than him, and wouldn’t give him much of a turn at it. Like many a hangdog younger person, the less they let him participate, the more immovable he became. We had to force him to come up out of there to eat, even.

Our little one, just four, got cabin fever. He adores video games too, and amazed me by performing on the Dance Dance Fever mat they had, and winning the high score over the sixteen year old competition. I had no idea he even knew what it was. But he doesn’t have the stubborn attention span to waste the day in there. He ran down the driveway. Let’s go! Come on!

My brother lives out in the landscape. The roads to his house are sylvan, canopied entirely by massive oaks and ashes and lined with the stone walls, left over from when stubborn yankee farmers still tried to subsistence farm during the three or four months a year when the weather wasn’t all-get-out around here. The houses are few and far between. The road is so little traveled that we felt safe walking right down the pavement, as there are no sidewalks, and no need for them. Poison Ivy and Fisher Cats are all you have to look out for.

My brother said he would accompany my wife and I and the tot. A pleasant stroll.

The eleven year old refused to come out of that dreadful dungeon. We left him. How did it turn out?

1. As far as I know, he never got a turn.

2. We walked down the street a little, and there was an elegant barn up a driveway, and my brother said: Let’s visit Dave and Penny. They’re nice, and interesting. Yes, they were, and are. So we:

  • Marveled at their garden, filled with brown eyed susans and rhodies and tall phlox and… oh my god every damn thing that was pleasant to look at.
  • Sat by their hidden koi pond and watched the bullfrogs watch us chat about nothing and everything, as long as it was pleasant.
  • Went in that barn, to marvel at its elegant and simple construction
  • Sat in a 1914 Ford Model T touring car until a toot on the Harpo Marx horn terrified the little guy into fleeing amusingly back to the garden again.
  • Laughed when he went right back in because that car was like a magnet and he was a pinball
  • Marveled that there was another half assembled Model T in the other dim corner of the barn.
  • Stood there agog when our host says: How about a ride?
  • Drove around for a half an hour down one green allee after another, my little son under my arm in the tufted leather back seat of that car; a car just seven years short of one hundred years old, with no roof but the trees and no care in the world. It was like robbing a museum.
  • Then we fed the chickens, and they gave us a dozen eggs from them
  • Then my brave little boy held his little hands cupped and trembling and full of little pellets, and giggled uncontrollably as their two llamas ate it with their crazy lips. Yes, that’s not a misprint. Llamas.
  • I made the beasts nervous somehow, as I looked them straight in the eye, perhaps, but the one with the sweet face walked up to my wife and kissed her. My wife has a sweet face too, so I understand the urge.
  • Then the little guy fed the fish in the little pond.
  • Dave showed me every little thing on that car and how it worked, and we talked about the thing and what it represents, which is very profound if you know the item. That was the first thing in the world that the people who made it could afford to buy and enjoy. I had ridden in the birth of the middle class.

Our little boy fell asleep in the car on the way home, and we carried him to his little bower of Spongebob pillows and Pooh bears. When he woke up this morning, we found hay in his bed.

So I ask you. Is there any hay in your bed today? Find a way to get some there. It’s right down the end of the driveway, if you’ll just go.

8 Responses

  1. I know a little of how you felt as we walked around a lake in Michigan where we have a cottage and one of the cottages had 9 bird feeders in her small yard and goldfinches were buzzing around everywhere. We just stood there amazed and then the hummingbirds came to the trumpet vines – no hay in our beds but visions of lovely birds, yes!

  2. Sand in the sheets is just about as good.

    We fight a losing battle to keep the kids shod in the summer. I think half the dirt of the neighborhood ends up on our carpet. Someday I will miss those stains.

  3. A few months ago, men were tearing up the street to tie into the storm drains for new houses. There was a 4′ deep pit 12′ long across from our house, cordoned off with yellow caution tape. It took our 8-year-old boy about 10 seconds to end up in the bottom of that trench — pinball to a magnet, indeed.

  4. Heh. Trench goblins in Missouri, too.

    I did not have a camera handy. I did not expect any of that. It was better in a way, as I was able to simply let it all happen, instead of being set aside to document it.

    I can not describe the look on my child’s face, riding in the back seat of that car, other than to call it beatific.

    I do believe I caught some of that from him. The little kids are always infecting you with something or other, ain’t they?

  5. This reminds me of an Spongebob episode where he and Patrick spent their entire day playing in a box filled with nothing but their imagination. It turned out to be a very exciting episode.

  6. Being an old Motowner myself, you are correct when you say that the Model T was historic. It helped create a large middle class, especially in Detroit that lasted for decades until automotive competition became global and union automotive jobs became scarcer.

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