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.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.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.

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