Sum­min’ up sum­mer

The Compass - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters My Im­per­fect Slant Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com.

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.

Truly.

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.

Sept. 19

Carbonear story time reg­is­tra­tion

Story time reg­is­tra­tion at the Carbonear Pub­lic Li­brary

Sept. 19-20, 22-23 for ages six years and un­der.

Sept. 23

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 ahig­don@nlh.nl.ca.

Sept. 23

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/.

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