October 9, 2020

I got nothin’.

It’s Monday morning. In less than 24 hours, 600 words arranged in complete sentences need to be sent off to various editors. When I got up this morning, I did the math and figured I’ve been in this situation roughly 1362 times. I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with something, but, hey, at some point even Michael Jordan started missing jump shots.

I admit I’m a little distracted. We’re having a wedding here on the old homestead in less than a week.  The guest list has been trimmed by about 75% in hopes of keeping people safe, but I do want the place looking respectable for a few people who’ve never been here. Right now, I’m feeling good, because the falling leaves are hiding the fact that I’m not very good at lawn maintenance. A friend of mine - a guy with a great lawn - says I plant grass like a farmer, meaning I put the seed in the ground and expect it to take care of itself. That seems reasonable to me, and I’m usually reasonably satisfied with the results, but that may be because no one ever sees it but me. Depending on how hard the wind blows, I might have to move some leaf piles around, but right now things are looking good.

It’s easier to keep track of how the lawn looks now, because we spent Sunday washing windows. Most of 2020 has been spent on various renovation projects, because, you know, there was nothing else to do. It’s kind of fascinating how a half inch of sheet rock dust on a window can change the view. I talked to one of my sisters about that and she reminded me that before the first wedding we had here, she, too, spent the day washing windows. At that time, we had wide windowsills on the outside of the porch, just the right size for cats, many of whom appeared to have some sort of plague, to spend the winter huddled and sneezing, despite the fact there was a heated building at their disposal. That was well over a decade ago and the memory is still fresh. We put in new windows and I have to admit the choice of design was influenced more than a little by the memory of cat phlegm.

It’s October 5th, it’s a beautiful day, and I’m sitting inside. What a waste. Every day is great day to be alive, but there aren’t that many perfect days, and today, with sunny skies and seventy-degree temps the first week in October is a prime example. If the weather was like this all the time, I’d be a marvel of productivity. The crisp air and the knowledge of winter looming like a dark invader just beyond the horizon is a tremendous motivator. It’s an early harvest in our part of the world, which is a blessing. I have vivid memories of keeping the grease gun in a heated cabinet in order to make sure lubrication was a possibility, shining my way with a flashlight as I crunched through morning frost with a bad weather forecast on my mind and hopes of getting all the various bits of equipment started and functioning before daylight. But there haven’t been that many years like that, and they need to be balanced against heading down a long row with the combine door open to the fresh air just to hear the corn rattling into the hopper, watch deer scamper away, and pheasants burst from cover in flurries of feathers and frenzy.

I’m a fortunate guy. I’ve had chicory coffee and beignets at Café Du Monde, mussels and Guinness outside the Temple Bar, and brisket and barbecued chicken in the parking lot of a bait shop/liquor store/ gas station in Hannibal, Missouri. All great meals and memories, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a better meal than coffee out of a battered Stanley Thermos, leaning against a tractor tire in the lee of an October wind, and looking at the last few easy rounds to end the season.

As soon as I can think of something to write about, I’m going get out there and enjoy the day.

Copyright 2020 Brent Olson




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