2011.11.02 The Snake Died Smiling

Written by David Green.

The wastebaskets are being placed back on the floor. The wooden spoons and pot and pans are coming off the floor and returning to their proper locations. Books and magazines are again safe from the mouth of an always-exploring eight-month-old child.

And best yet, our floors are all dusted from a self-propelled dust mop that visited every nook and cranny.

Yes, we had a short visit from granddaughter Caroline (and her mother) and now things are getting back to normal. It’s a lot of work; I played hard.

The strangest part of their visit was realizing how normal it seemed to have an infant crawling around. Well over 20 years have passed since Caroline’s mother was dusting our floors, but I was taken right back to that era. I suppose it helped that she was wearing some her mother’s winter clothes up here in the chilly north country.

You know where this is leading. No time to write a column. Here’s something from 20 years ago.

By DAVID GREEN

I just finished up Mother-In-Law Week, 1991. Colleen’s mother was in from New York City for an exciting visit in the country. From the Big Apple to the Little Corncob.

What do you do with a visitor from the Bronx? They went to Sauder Village, Shipshewanna, the Blissfield Home Tour, the big city of Toledo and, of course, Bean Creek.

Flo (that’s short for Florence) makes her own entertainment, anyway. When she was changing planes in Chicago, she fell and broke her nose and sprained her thumb. If any of you saw a woman in town last week with a pair of black eyes and a bandaged nose, that was my mother-in-law.

She received a pretty good ribbing from her colleagues back home at the famous Steuben Glass Company in Manhattan. “You’ll do anything for attention.” “Too many cocktails between Kennedy and O’Hare.” Flo isn’t really sure how she managed to fall, but she probably would have been safer back home in the Bronx.

I missed most of those trips around the area that she was taken on, but I did make the Bean Creek excursion Sunday afternoon. I figured it would be like a walk through Central Park—but without the muggers.

We let her walk first along most of the path by the creek. That way she was the one to break through the spider webs and locate the nettles. It was good for her.

The kids loaded her pockets with all kinds of souvenirs such as hickory nuts, walnuts, acorns, two kinds of fossils, bladder nuts and honey locust pods. We were sure to give her plenty of buckeyes, because those things sell for 10 cents each at the airport. Maybe she could pick up a little cash on the way home.

We couldn’t get her to cross the log over the creek—probably images of a broken leg filled her head—and she refused to take home the dead snake that had apparently been run over by a car. Ben wanted it anyway.

Actually, there was some question about the state of consciousness of that snake. Ben claims the tail was still wiggling when he found it, but it certainly appeared dead by the time we got it home. Rosanna told us it was still smiling.

For me, Flo’s visit was even better than her previous trip last year. I ate far too many beans that time. It seems as though every time I came home from work, the others were off traveling somewhere.

I’d find a note on the counter that would read something like: “We’ll be back later. There are beans in the refrigerator.” The next night: “We went to Tecumseh. There are beans in the crockpot.” Always the same thing. Always the same feeling.

This year there was always leftover oatmeal at lunch plus a variety of items at dinner. I don’t think I ever ate beans the whole week. Now that’s a relief.

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