Walking about the woodland Saturday, I some noticed milkweeds along the driveway ditch which brought to mind a story. It’s a story that gives a little idea of what Dad was like.
Dad was sitting out with Mom and me in the side yard late one summer. He had a Falls City beer in hand and his green work uniform on; that’s all I ever saw him wear. I believe he left the matching green cap inside that hot day, but the Vitalis kept his hair neatly in place.
Finishing his Kool Mild, he looked over to me with a grin. “Hootenanny (yes, really), go in there and get a bag and bring it out, a big bag.”
I raced in, eager to participate in whatever he had planned. I reached behind the Warm Morning coal stove in the kitchen and selected a folded grocery sack. They were made from nice, heavy brown paper with a flat rectangular bottom and straight sides for those of you unfamiliar with the pre-plastic trash days. I ran back out and presented it to him with a conspiratorial grin.
He didn’t take it. “Go over across the road and fill that about half full with milkweed pods.”
I said, “They ain’t ripe yet!”
He said, “Just go get ’em.”
I did as bade, harvesting the plump green pods with dexterous 9 year old fingers. We lived on a white gravel road, had a white gravel driveway that segued into our white gravel sitting area under a tall poplar tree. Inured to the sharp edges, I ran back, barefooted as always. You only wear shoes to church and school, right? Dying to see that he would do with them, I passed them over and stood waiting.
“Go put ’em in the car and bring me another beer.”
Oh dern it! Would I ever know what they were for?
Fast forward a couple months. We were all in the living room watching Hee-Haw. In a commercial break, he laughed and told Mom the rest of the tale. For it to make sense, you must know he stopped by Ron and Herm’s beer joint after work every day and came home in time for supper. We pick up the story after supper, TV time. Well, here it is:
“Remember I took that milkweed up with me a while back? I emptied the bag in the heat pipes when George wasn’t looking. They set in there all this time! I got there just in time today to see white snow flying all over the damned place! He was cussin’ and havin’ a fit and it was in his hair and everything!” He laughed and nearly spilled his beer, then added, “It looked like it was snowin’ up a storm!” He looked so satisfied.
I was so proud to have done my part! Then Buck Owens sang ‘The Race Is On” or something and the event became the past. Maybe sometime I’ll write about what I did with the ant-covered dead roof rat…