It's a great new bike path, suitable for walking too, and it runs through an open field that, in just a few years, will resemble what was here, tall grass prairie, 150 years ago, sans bison and Yankton Sioux. The path lies just behind the college, where it runs around the soccer fields, then snakes through all that open space. At supper time, when we walk, it's usually empty.
Not so a couple days ago, when a bunch of banshees, little kids on little bikes, came zooming down the path behind us, chattering and rollicking along as if bikes were the greatest invention ever and getting loose on those bikes and that path was an answer to bedtime prayers. Seven or eight kids and one of their moms were coming up behind us, setting the red-wing blackbirds all a'flutter.
When, finally, they came up behind us, one of them forgot to adjust the volume. No, that's likely wrong--they weren't thinking volume at all. They're kids, after all.
"Watch out for the old people," one of the more motherly warned the other banshees.
My wife and I were the only others on the entire track. Nonetheless, it took maybe ten seconds for the GPS in my soul to zero in on us: we were--are--"the old people."
Who cares? It was cute, stung only a little, and I've been carrying it like a three-day-old mosquito bite ever since, just a comforting itch now and then.
But I used it yesterday. A six-minute storm came through two nights ago. My wife got up and shut windows, then came back to bed and told me she knew what I would be doing for the next couple of days. "There are branches down," she said.
"Branches" understates massively. We have three huge lindens on the north side, the kind of trees Joyce Kilmer would was looking at when she wrote the poem. Anyway, that straight-line wind--must have been over 60 mph--just took out a huge branch, two feet across and not hollow, dropped it like a Bunyan-sized chain saw might have from high in that linden.
Once the light came up yesterday morning, I went out to see what had happened, I couldn't believe the size of that "branch." My wife was right, and then some. It was huge, the mess spread over the back lawn like a tent of leaves. It would have taken me two days if I cleaned it up myself, at least. I know I could have done it, and I told myself I would have, and that I'd be less than a man if I didn't; but I wasn't going to spend the next two days sawing wood and carting away branches.
I fought massive infestations of guilt for awhile (the legacy of Calvinism that never stops giving), suffered some serious testosterone deprivation, and then picked up the phone and called in the pros. They did it.
All day long, I was embarrassed for not doing the blasted job myself, but, after all, when they came--early afternoon--they had the job finished in a just a couple of hours, not days.
I did the right thing. Besides, I told myself, itching a little, I'm old people.