WALKS IN THE WOODS Part Four
(Okay, so I lied. There are no woods in this installment either. Maybe I should retitle my unkept journal "Highlights of a Lowlife" - what do you think?)
I wanted to relate two more incidents from the summer of ‘71 that added to the frustration which convinced us to move. The weather that year ensured a profuse crop of ragweed, a plant to which I am highly allergic. We discovered a large patch growing directly behind our trailer, surrounding our kerosene tank (neither of us were avid yardkeepers, so the plants had managed to gain a good foothold.) Without stopping to think, I spent about 15 minutes uprooting the noxious growths, and, stepping to the edge of our backyard, flung them out into the cornfield (that cornfield came in handy for situations like that.)
Approximately 5 minutes later, I began to sneeze ... and sneeze ... and sneeze. I entered the trailer and proceeded down the hall into the bathroom, praying that the medicine chest held some remedy. Bonnie told me later that, standing outside, she was able to follow my progress through the trailer by the direction of the sneezes. The spasms continued for another 15 minutes or so, until the antihistamine took effect. For that period, I was unable to do a thing except lie on the couch and sneeze.
This last incident didn’t really figure into our decision to move, but it gave me a reputation among a certain segment of the park’s residents that I found it hard to live down.
(A brief digression.)
Life is odd sometimes. My mother was an avid cook, buying cookbooks at the drop of a dollop of cookie dough. When my father died in 2002 and my brother and I were conducting a runthrough of the contents of the house, we discovered, in the attic, four boxes filled to the brim with cookbooks of every sort, a massive collection, some of which Bonnie appropriated for our own. (One of my particular favorites was a book entitled simply "Meat".) My mother belonged to an organization called Home Bureau and took pride in testing new recipes on her unsuspecting family before presenting the recipes to her cohorts and fellow cooks. I must say that she became quite good at it, and she and my father were also enthusiastic gardeners, so our back yard was eternally filled with culinary goodies, and my brother and I were exceedingly lucky to be able to eat really well as we were maturing.
Bonnie’s mother, on the other hand, while a good cook, didn’t particularly enjoy the process, and was rather haphazard when it came to meal preparations. When we got married, Bonnie determined to become an excellent cook (an attainment which she has admirably achieved.)
My mother had often enlisted me to help with her cooking preparations (hey, that’s what children are for) so I was used to the process, and took pleasure in helping Bonnie whenever she embarked on a new adventure in cuisine. Upon this particular occasion, she wanted to make a batch of lemon cookies from a recipe obtained from her mother, because she wanted to be able to present them to our parents for Christmas, and this represented a test run to see how they would turn out. I was helping her make the dough when we heard a knock at the door. I swiped the dough from my left hand (yes, I’m a southpaw) with a dishtowel and went to answer the knock. Opening the door, I was confronted by a neighbor whom I had rarely seen and barely knew, smiling and holding out his right hand as he introduced himself and issued me an invitation to a neighborhood poker party. I extended my right hand, still coated with sticky dough, then, looking down, realized that I dare not shake his. The man followed my glance, observed the glutinous mess, slowly looked back up, first over my shoulder at Bonnie, who was standing just behind me, and then back at my face, as a fleeting look of consternation (and possibly disgust) passed swiftly across his countenance. He said, "I’m sorry ... you must be busy" and turned rapidly away. (Blush.)
It was probably just as well. Back then, my poker skills were grievously lacking, and I probably would have been sheared clean.