November 2014

3 articles in November 2014

Ii always try and put my garden to bed before the shortened autumn days fall too deep into November. This year I beat the darkness by a few minutes by placing my last clump of leaves and grass cuttings in their rightful place just before the sun was about to depart the clear autumn sky.

With a few quiet minutes left in the day I leaned on my trusty old rake to enjoy the moment. Looking down the worn shaft of the rake I noticed it was missing a few of its spindly fingers. Originally it had been painted a bright green color but after years of pushing leaves and rocks, the green had been replaced almost completely by rust. My wife bought me a new rake a few years back that still hung proudly on a bent nail in the garage.

Retiring my old rake would have made the job of moving dead things off my lawn one hell of a lot easier. The new one had a slick shiny handle that made the wood look like plastic. At least I think it is wood. The blades on this rake were bigger and more flexible because they were made of some bright new plastic that promised never to lose its color. Looking around my yard and home I thought about other parts of my life that had become worn and rusty with time and should have been thrown out years ago but, because they had become such an integral part of my life, I dared not let them go.

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Tthere I stood. In the midst of a labyrinth of highly decorated halls lined with stores offering everything from 30% off to doubling shoppers money if they would only go in their store to buy the perfect Christmas gift.

I had wandered up and down those hallowed halls for about an hour and a half. All I had accomplished in my travels was a half-eaten ice-cream cone and a soon to be discarded ice-cream-stained sweater. In other words, I was lost in a place where no man should pass. I was also panic-stricken because it was getting close to the time of year when my wife and daughter would meet before our perfectly-decorated plastic Christmas tree to find out how much we really meant to each other. This was the culmination of weeks, if not months, of shopping for presents that would be opened in seconds and talked about until the next Christmas shopping season.

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Eevery morning it is my job to make the coffee before my wife joins me for some breakfast and conversation. This has been a tradition in our marriage ever since it began over thirty-one years ago. While I was getting the coffee pot ready I noticed a large jar next to the coffee machine.

It must have had a gallon capacity but was only a quarter filled by some kind of yellowish liquid. The liquid was brewing because its surface was covered with tiny bubbles. When my wife came downstairs to join me for breakfast I asked what this newest of inhabitants of our kitchen counter was. She told me that it was a starter cake.

Not having a clue as to what a ‘starter cake’ is supposed to be, I asked for an explanation. She told me that she got the starter liquid from her sister. She explained that every time one made the cake mix they would have enough left to give the extra mix to two other people who wanted to make their own Christmas cake. Then these people would make their cakes and have a couple of starter liquids to give to other people, so the same cake starter would spread around our known universe.

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