“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” — A.A. Milne
By JACKIE MOAD
Company’s coming. Special company. VERY special company. And the place was SO not ready.
Because of an uber-frisky kitten and a sheer lack of space, we had the family Christmas tree here in the farmhouse’s big living room, moving the antique furniture out of the way upstairs, and festooned all ledges, sills, railings, tables and even the couch with festive garlands and decades-worth of holiday trinkets and trimmings. It was an awesome sight.
As much as I had struggled (physically and emotionally) to bring out those memory-laden boxes, it was even more difficult to pack everything away again. Laurie and I always made it a point to leave all the lights and decor up until his mother’s birthday, February 13th. Back then it was a pleasant task, when it’s you and your sweetie doing it, nestling away everything into their perfect spot, ready for unveiling next Christmas. Not anymore. And that demon Procrastination, my middle name, had taken hold of me. Now it was just me racing around, no time to spare, because Laurie’s old girlfriend, Martha, was on her way, snowstorm or not!
I flitted frantically from one room to the next — dust, vacuum, wash — as I went, sort of like a gigantic spring cleaning marathon. My last room was the office, Laurie’s office. After more than a year, I could still not bring myself to move his files, his books, his writings.
And then it happened. I was clearing off the computer desk and opened the filing cabinet to perhaps hide some of my loose papers, and there it was, a neat paper pile clipped together and his handwriting: Take5?
Although time was of the essence, I couldn’t help but start to read, and it shook me to the core. He was talking about cleaning frenzies, mine in particular! So here it is, written August 7, 2017:
Out here on the farm, we don’t see no dust. Part & parcel it’s coming from everywhere, and truth be told, the eyesight’s not paying a lot of attention to city-type thoughts these hot summer days.
The more you pay it attention, the more there is … ipsofacto, ignore it and it’ll go away.
J doesn’t fully agree with my theory on this, but I hold to it. Even when she’s racing about, friends coming over, tsking and tatting, swooshing away at the shelves and knick-knacks.
Makes me nervous, so I go outside, maybe throw some hay down or dig around the door and windows — where folks arrive and see. I love the way the wind picks up the bits and pieces, carrying it in circles and all over the place. Lovely.
Sometimes you see the same thing in the house, when the sun strikes just right and the mad dog whirling dervish Jackie’s in a cleaning frenzy. That usually picks up the closer to when the guests are arriving.
I like to stay out of the fray, maybe get the lawn tractor or leaf blower going outside the place.
Or take the dogs for a walk in the weedy woods where they like to race through the mud for a slurp or two of creek water. Sure, they collect a few seeds, and the mud’s hanging off their fur by the time we’re back, but it’s all worth it when the six, no seven of us, tromp into the kitchen for a big surprise bark and roustabout — scattering the kibble over the floor for a good healthy snack. Joyous and loud we run around, out and in the front door till J usually throws us out for good.
Smell went long ago, ʼcept for morning coffee. A blessing when I’m out shovelling up the horse manure or discovering those tiny little mice-kies the cat brought in the night before.
Other than that the senses are working fine … still cry at John Wayne movies and can feel each and every bite of those pesky mozzies. J even says I’m a little touched at times, mostly when me and the dogs are playing in the kitchen … just before the friends arrive!
Nothing wrong with my 6th sense though — when J’s a-coming with that broom in her hand. I know it’s time to get a move on … Duck & cover, roll & run … a sensible way …
I was still holding the broom when Martha arrived.
Jackie Moad was life partner of Laurie Gourlay, Take5’s “Another Beautiful Day” columnist. He’s still surprising her while she continues farming their 20-acre organic farm, actively seeking local solutions to global challenges.