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.


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.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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