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Sunday, July 10, 2016

A man on a galloping horse would never notice

“You realize your tablecloth is a little wrinkly. Want me to run the iron over it quickly for you?”
“Nah. A man on a galloping horse…”
Perhaps it means something that my family uses that expression so often, we don’t even bother to finish it. A man on a galloping horse would be travelling past so quickly, he would not notice that my tablecloth has not been ironed. Besides, the plates and platters will soon cover the wrinkles after dinner is served.
I do not aspire to be the type of farmwife who has everything just so. I am comfortable with a bit of untidiness. I know the foundation is cleaned. I cleaned it myself. I enjoy cleaning the house – it is my stress relief. I tend to do more of a quick pass-over than a thorough scrubbing, however. I tell myself it will do for now. Eventually the Farmer waits until I’m gone away on a girls’ night or something and he cleans the floors the way his mother taught him. He moves the furniture and uses an entire bottle of floor wax. The mop is stiff like a brick when he is finished, and the floors gleam so that you can see your smile reflected back at you. Bless him.
If you happen to notice me scrubbing floors at odd hours of the day, i.e. 2am, stand back. Give me plenty of room. Chances are I am extremely ticked off about something and that is why I am scouring so fervently.
My garden is doing very well this year. That is one area where I am not slacking off. I’m staying on top of the weeds, so they don’t get a chance to choke anything out or to take over the garden altogether. Deep cleaning of the house can wait til winter – I have to keep tabs on the veggies and perennial beds.
Usually while I am outside weeding I take a moment to check on our old sheepdog, Chelsea. I make sure she has clean, dry hay in her house and her water bucket is freshly filled. This morning I stepped around the stable to her yard, out of habit. She is no longer there to greet me. At the age of fifteen, she lay down for the last time. Fifteen is a good, ripe age for a border collie. They don’t typically live past ten or twelve years of age, I am told. Like our old Gordon Setter Cody, who lived to seventeen, I think there is a lot to be said for having a dog spend most of his time outside.
When it was minus thirty or plus thirty we would make sure the dogs were comfortable, either bringing Cody into the house or Chelsea into the stable, but for the most part they preferred to be outside. Their doghouses were well insulated with hay and placed out of the wind and rain or snow. They grew thick coats in the winter and in summer they dug cool holes in the soil under a shady tree.
“We are now dogless,” the Farmer said. I know that bothers him. Especially when he sees a three-foot-long fisher slinking across the road towards our property. We have dozens of turkey chicks happily roaming around the inside of the stable. We would like them to make it all the way to Thanksgiving. A dog would notify us of an intruder. For now we are relying on the cats. Fat lot of help they are.
When we get back from the cottage the next thing I want to do (or to focus my semi-retired Farmer on) is repair our screen doors. Sammy the big male cat has discovered that if he runs full-throttle into the sliding patio door, the screen will rip from its frame, the plexiglass scratch-guard will flip up and – presto! – instant cat door.
The screen doors on our dining porch also need repair – or replacing. They have bubbled and broken in the frost, so that it appears a large clawed animal ripped a hole in them. I pointed them out to the Farmer and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s a superficial wound. And a man on a galloping horse would never notice.”

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