My dear hound received the raking of a lifetime last week. I’m sure of it, though the only thing that I really saw was a tricolor blur of Beagle out of my peripheral vision. She was trying to take cover underneath the picnic table and then bolted away from the birds entirely to hide behind the garden shed. The rooster was standing tall, doing his best MacArthur impression when I returned from the spigot. Tiny MacArthur was like a heat seeking missile after that. Anytime that he got sight of that poor dog he lit after her. In the end, it was easiest to just physically separate the two. Tiny will always lose (if being cornered and gathered up by a sweaty, panting woman with a stick in hand can be considered losing) though he will never concede defeat. I penned him up again under the trees to think about what he’d done.
It’s Monday and I have finally turned the page from July to August on my office calendar. It is the first Monday that I don’t have to extricate the pullets from their dog kennel so that they can run amok and do their best to annihilate my meager summer’s end garden.
It’s impressive that the garden has survived at all. I’ve been chasing the birds out of the beds daily with a broom or rake or bamboo stake, whatever was handy. I wish I could shoo the sun away as well, or at least the heat. The Queen Anne cowpeas are the only things that I’ve ever grown that seem to want to climb a sunbeam. They can’t get enough of these long warm days and they are beginning to form blossoms.
The cucumbers, on the other hand, start out each morning like newly minted career girls. They look fresh and perky but by the afternoon their spines have curved and their leaves have drooped. They look exhausted and I pity them. We were all allotted approximately ten minutes of rain by the powers that be yesterday evening. A heavy cloud burst open and drenched everything much to our delight and surprise.
I was on the phone with a friend when the rain came. I was telling her that the coop was finally done and that, yes, my marriage had endured the stress of construction. I was explaining that I had gained the wisdom that only a bottle of rye can provide in trying times. Why I didn’t pry the top off that bottle last weekend I’ll never know. But this weekend, as I came in for my third pitcher of ice water, the rye practically screamed my name from the counter top. DRINK ME! So I did. Just a little. Just enough to loosen my shoulders from their upright position so that my arms could swing in a carefree manner as I brought out an assortment of hinges and screws and “s” hooks that might work to attach this or that. The beer chaser helped a little too, and by the time we were done building the little-bit-larger coop, we were very happy with the work we’d done and we sat under the trees to watch the birds – he on a folding chair and me on an overturned bucket.
It was a lot of work for something that they will only occupy for another month or two but for what it’s worth we got a lot of satisfaction out of putting that thing together. We daydreamed at the hardware store and shared little secrets – like the woodworking projects that we would do if only, and we shared bigger dreams – like eventually owning a place with a garage or permanent workshop. How many acres do we want? What state would we move to? We talk easy between ourselves while looking at the wall full of rasps and nail-setting tools. We remove items to inspect them more carefully. We turn tools over in our hands and look at them as if we are looking through a window into our perfect future.