Summin’ up summer
The kids are back at school. The purple asters, definitive evidence of approaching fall, bloom in roadside ditches … and the sight of the little shaggers turns my stomach. The autumnal equinox lurks a week or so up around the bend. Summer is done. Except for a couple of minor setbacks — one of which might bring Dearest Duck winter woes — summer was good at our house.
In June’s final days, while Dearest Duck coaxed bedding plants to flower, I played Robert Frost at the boundary lines with our neighbours. I built fences. I mended fences. I painted fences. I braced up fences in preparation for the onslaught of winter’s hurricane winds…
… and Dearest Duck said, “Harry, my honey, do we really need all those fences? There are no roaming animals to keep out like when you were a bay-boy.” Words to that effect anyway. “Not animals, my Duck,” said I, pulled The Great Big Book of Unforgettable Poems from a bookshelf and flopped it open on my palm like a preacher about to quote scripture.
“Listen here,” I said, pointing to Robert Frost’s Mending Wall — “Good fences make neighbours.”
“Pffffft,” said Dearest Duck, “as if a rowdy crowd surrounds us.”
The setback that might affect her adversely in the dead of winter had not yet happened.
The first setback was mine to bear alone, except when Dearest Duck stooped to sooking me, God love ‘er.
During the peak of summer when it was so hot that chickadees and juncos, overcome from heat exhaustion, tumbled from the trees, I made a bad decision.
After twenty-five years of shying away from my dentist’s advice, I foolishly chose midsummer to have an impacted wisdom tooth extracted.
“I’ve got my nerve up,” I said, as the dental chair tipped back.
My dentist smiled — grinned? — and selected a needle from among an array of pointed tools.
[By the way, do you know ‘twas a dentist — Alfred P. Southwick, 1826-1898 — that invented the electric chair? Just saying.]
The extraction didn’t go well. Much drilling and chiselling and prising was required before my shattered tooth was excavated good from my mandible, like ore from a wall of solid rock.
PBE — Post the Big Extraction — infection festered and my jaw swelled until the wattle under my chin puffed up the size of a lumpfish. Wanting only a kerchief slung underneath my chinny-chin-chin and knotted atop my noggin, I looked like an abscessed wretch from a Charlie Dickens novel.
“You poor old suffering soul,” said Dearest Duck, neither pecking nor patting my chubby chops…
… while — at the local branch of Eastern Health — concentrated antibiotics flowed into my body through loops of IV hose.
Before it suggested ominous possibilities for Dearest Duck, summer’s second setback was also mine.
Refusing to accept that my brute strength was no longer what it was when I was twentyfive — or even fifty-five, I s’pose, eh b’ys? — I pushed a wheelbarrow filled with soggy sods and clay to the rubbish pit where, with a mighty heave, I attempted to upend the wheelbarrow and dump the load.
My biceps baulked. Age-atrophied muscles whose names I do not know, clenched and wrenched and spasmed … and I fell down in a heap.
I’d hove out my back, for frig sake.
Using a couple of broken sticks, I managed to crawl and scuff into the house and coil my carcass in a knot at Dearest Duck’s slippered feet.
“What have you done?” said she.
“I hove out my back,” said I. “My bent and buckled love,” she said, helped me to the car, gently strapped me in and drove me to the site of earlier pain and misery — the local branch of Eastern Health — where…
… after spreading me on a slab, straightening me out and, following an in-depth assessment of my sacroiliac — or whatever — and spine, the medical staff provided me with this conclusive diagnosis:
“You’ve hove out your back,” they said.
And so I was laid up for weeks as summer passed.
Now here’s the thing that might lodge the load on Dearest Duck, so to speak.
My back still hurts. The slightest use of the injured muscles, like shovelling, say, produces darts of pain.
And winter will come. Snow will fall, winds will blow, and drifts will block our driveway.
Shoveling will be required. And I fear Dearest Duck — although broad of shoulder and strong of yew — will have to heave and ho.
Thank you for reading.
Anudder Bit of Foolishness and a Mug Up
At the Central United Church Hall, Bay Roberts, on Friday, September 15, 2017, beginning at 7:30 p.m. There will be traditional NL music, skits, local performers, toutons, and more. Tickets are $12.00 and are available at Bartlett’s Irving, Water Street Variety, or by calling the church office at 786-3178. There will be a limited number of tickets available at the door.
Sept. 17 Terry Fox Run
The 37th Terry Fox Walk/Run/Ride for Cancer Research takes place at St. Francis Field in Harbour Grace on Sunday, Septr 17. Registration is at 2:30 p.m., event starts at 3 p.m. There is no entry fee, and no minimum distance or minimum pledge amount. All are welcome. 84 per cent of funds raised go directly to cancer research, some of which is being done right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Pledge sheets are available online at terryfox.org and at many local council offices, as well as at the Carbonear Pool. If you are unable to attend the event or sponsor a participant, you can make an online donation to the Harbour Grace event online. This is a rain or shine event.
Carbonear story time registration
Story time registration at the Carbonear Public Library
Sept. 19-20, 22-23 for ages six years and under.
Red Shoe Walk
Red Shoe Walk for Families Sept. 23 in New Harbour, Trinity Bay. Walk will take place from the Community 5 Lion’s Club with registration at 10 a.m. and walk starting at 11 a.m. It will conclude with hot dogs, cake and treats for everyone. Contact Annette Bishop-Higdon to get your sponsor sheet and join in this fun event @ 582-3445(home) 683-4343 (cell) or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2017 Bartlett Lecture
The Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador is pleased to announce the 2017 Bartlett Lecture: “Arctic Exploration: Maritime Tradition vs Modern Technology.” The lecture will be held at St. George’s Heritage Church in Brigus. Lecturer Capt. Andrew C. McNeill will reflect upon his experiences in the Arctic with the Canadian Coast Guard and contrast them with the documented expeditions of famous arctic explorer Captain Bob Bartlett. The lecture starts at 7 p.m. and admission is open to the public. More information and dinner reservations can be found at http://www. historicsites.ca/bartlett-lecture/.