Welcome to story hour, kids.
Today I have three short stories to share with you, accompanied by three photographs depicting the True nature of these north woods tales.
The first story shall be: The day Baby and I went in the ditch. (This is not a new story. You’ve heard this one before on this recent blog. However, I have dug out a photo from the archives to show you. Thus, the story is not yet finished.)
The second story: The day it rained inside our house. Yes, it’s true. I would not fabricate. One fine day, many many years ago, it rained inside our house. Stay tuned for further elaboration of this true event.
The third story: The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake. An eastern diamond back rattlesnake, even though the Upper Peninsula is not home to rattlesnakes.
Settle back in your chairs, make popcorn, pour yourself another cup of tea.
Story hour is about to commence!
The day Baby and I went in the ditch.
In last Friday’s blog I wrote as poetically as memory would allow:
Your blogger crooned to her fair-headed first-born, “Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long…” driving swiftly around that curve—far too swiftly, in retrospect–when suddenly, unexpectedly, the blue Fiesta careened out of control and ended up in an undignified heap in the deep white, a ditched creature of unplumbed snowbanks.
You hugged your first-born tight, sweating nervously in the freeze of January, crying, lamenting life’s unfairness, wrapped him tight in your arms which wanted to love him endlessly and never-ever-ever give him one moment of transgression or sadness or pain or grief–and walked home, sniffling, to request a husband and father to pull the stuck vehicle from its new unfair and undignified position in probably two feet of deep snow.
On Sunday I discovered the actual photo of what really happened. Here it is:
It appears my Memory was a slight bit inaccurate. #1 It certainly wasn’t a blue Ford Fiesta. Even though we owned blue Ford Fiestas for a hundred years in our early marriage, it appears we also owned a tan Datsun. #2 The alleged ditch-bound vehicle did not careen off the road after too quickly rounding a curve. It actually (husband’s excellent memory recalled exact event) hit a deep river of slush and threw itself off the dirt road. #3 My memory also proves inaccurate because I omitted an important detail. The errant Datsun ran over a small tree! Can you see the poor baby tree? Doesn’t it look pathetic?
All other facts are 100% accurate. In fact, you can trust my memory to remember feelings. Facts, not-so-much. Therefore, in the following two stories, allow the facts some spaciousness, please. The feelings of memory are what counts, after all.
The day it rained inside our house.
Come to think about it, it probably wasn’t only a day. It probably rained in our house several days. Maybe even a week. Maybe even a month. I am 100% certain it did not rain for an entire season.
We built our own Little House in the Big Woods, you know. OK, this blogger really can’t take credit for it. Mostly, said husband built the house. He did a darn good job, too! There are even curves on walls and around doorways. A circular stairway. Windows high up in the sky. He did a fine job, didn’t he, a young buck in his 20’s pounding hammers and running electrical wire and plumbing toilets.
In those early days we lived in an Incomplete House. Show of hands, please! How many of you have lived in Incomplete Houses? Houses that are not yet finished. No fancy ceilings–only blue styrofoam with square headed-nails that look like stars gleaming down on your wooden plywood floor. No circular stairway yet–only a ladder beneath a hole, in which one descended to stoke the wood-burning fire.
What fun we had as pioneers! Back-to-nature folks munching our granola and eating half-inch tall whole wheat bread sandwiches which refused to rise into normal sized slices. (Barry’s friend, Jeff, who sometimes helped build the house raised his eyebrows askance and refused to eat the tiny sandwiches, shame on him, the hummus or tuna fish was really yummy.)
Some days in the building process, we noticed a strange phenomenon. It would sometimes rain inside the half-finished house. Once, entertaining guests, two love-struck birds who later divorced sitting on the couch with eyes only for each other, we heard one of them suddenly exclaim, “It’s raining!” And, alas, it was. On our guests.
Here is the photo to prove it. Please do not call Child Protective Services. The child in question grew into a fine young man, even though it rained in his house one fine summer.
The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake.
We’re finally getting ’round the story you’ve all been waiting for.
Once upon a time, twenty years ago perhaps, Daddy drove home from his job at the L’Anse Sentinel in his blue Ford Fiesta. (Do you believe me that it was a Ford Fiesta?)
Suddenly, lying in the middle of Skanee Road–What IS that?–What is that strange creature, is it a SNAKE?
He pulled off the road and tentatively approached the creature.
It was a Rattlesnake.
An Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake.
Without a head.
With three rattles in its tail.
He carefully picked it up and placed it in the hatchback of the Fiesta.
He drove home.
As he turned the car to the right and then left, the rattles would bounce over plastic bumps in the hatchback and sound like the Spirit of the Rattlesnake was alive, ready to slither through the backseat and toward the unsuspecting driver, rattle rattle, why did you think I was dead?
“Kids!” Daddy called as he drove into the driveway. Kids came running. Kathy appeared, bemused, wondering what–WHAT? WHAT WAS DADDY BRINGING HOME?
“Would you like to hold the rattlesnake?” Daddy asked his precious children.
Son said Yes. Oh, yes, Dad! Daughter said No. No, Daddy! Please, no, Daddy!
Daddy said, “Gosh, this would make a good column for me to write in the newspaper. Are you sure you don’t want to get in the picture, Kiah?”
Christopher eagerly picked up the headless snake. Kiah crossed her arms and stared in utter dismay and disapproval.
Daddy snapped photo.
Since rattlesnakes are not found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we wondered about the appearance of this fella. How did it get here? Barry wrote the world’s funniest and most interesting column about it–much more interesting than my story here–filled with 100% true facts–and we attempted to have it skinned so we could display it on our wall. Alas, that never happened. Some taxidermist here in the backwoods is probably proudly wearing his rattlesnake belt.
Years later we discovered that a local guy visited southern climes that winter. Killed or discovered a rattlesnake and brought it home to the Upper Peninsula. Thought it would be a fine joke to stretch the rattlesnake across the road, to scare or shock a few little old ladies or hardened loggers.
Little did he know that the newspaper editor would spy it first!
Thank you, dear readers, for coming to story hour. I love when we meet like this.