Monday, September 20, 2010

Ye Old Wagon Trail

It has been a while since I wrote and my mind is filled with its many little commentaries on my little country life.
Better than all of my tidy idioms created in the crazy talk-to-myself mode I adopt for housecleaning purposes, is the tableau presented in our yard during the past weekend. I had nothing to do with it, honest.
I did say, "Go play outside, or you're going to help me clean house."
I wasn't just making a threat, I really meant it. During a month of harvesting and preserving the yield of Corey's garden, general homemaking procedures hit an all-time low. Then we had a birthday party for a 5 year old and her grandmother. Then we spent 4 days away for our anniversary. Then we came home... to sticky floors, crusty stove top, laundry mountains and cobwebs worthy of the spookiest Halloween display. The choice was obvious: either open up a roadside attraction (Come see the Filthiest House in Fulton County! Living conditions worthy of an asylum! Shock your system! Only a nickel gets you in the door! If we can open the door!) or clean before a concerned neighbor called social services.

My children are smart, and Friday afternoon was beautiful. They went outside without a backward glance. I cleaned to the themes of All Things Considered, stopping briefly to peek out at the offspring (Hey! Are you still watching your baby sister?) when I witnessed what could have been a rerun episode from my own childhood, without the sibling squabbles and an older sister who was too grown up to play.

Collectively, the Four Ruffer Children had dragged a wooden wagon, intended to be pulled behind the riding lawn mower, out of the barn and parked it in a sunny patch of grass. Draped around and over, no doubt also piled within, were various blankets and towels cleverly scavenged from the house while my back was turned. An expanding baby gate, never good at containing any of my babies, fenced in a semi-circle on one broad side of the tilted down and towel-festooned wagon. Within this partial enclosure sat four camping chairs, situated around a Coleman lantern which was blazing its battery-powered brightness in the full-light of 4:30 in the afternoon. Scattered around the encampment was a miscellany of books, water bottles, baskets and garden produce. (What?)

I thought this cluttered mess looked like a Gypsy camp, as politically un-correct as that is to say. But my beloved four (yes, even the baby sister) were so enthralled with their adventure they don't even notice me tromping past, hauling trash to the barrel in the barn. They even had the dog involved in their play.
Later I learned that they were playing "The Boxcar Children," (this makes sense since I don't think they've ever heard of Gypsies, or the more acceptable term, Romas. Is that where we get Roma Tomatoes?) They continued to play this particular storyline until supper time and throughout an overcast Saturday. By the time that rain broke up their harmonious little enclave, they had packed up the wagon and moved it to 4 locations around the yard. Even the rain didn't really end the game; I still have a trashy little camp on my porch, minus the wagon of course.

Most of the interior of our house has been pulled back from the brink of sideshow disaster, and I should move on to strightening up the outside too. But I am loathe to tamper with the evidence of happy children.

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