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Vanilla Summer

Published: Monday, June 9, 2014 11:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 9, 2014 12:05 p.m. CDT
Canada Geese and goslings along the Skunk River.

Can you believe the gnats and black flies this spring? I don’t know where they’re coming from, it hasn’t been that wet. Walking Buddy Boy has become an exercise in irritation. The people in cars think I’m waving at them. I got bit so bad, my cheek swelled up.

A friend told me to dab on vanilla. I tried it. It works! And doesn’t stink like those sticky bug sprays. Mary tells me I smell like a chocolate-chip cookie, and Buddy Boy likes to lick my leg.

This is supposed to be the year of the 17-year cicada. I don’t know where you’re from, but where I come from, we call’m locusts. What’s summer without the up-and-down, lazy-dazy buzz of locusts (sorta like the tinnitus in my ears), and hallow shells decorating tree bark and porch rails? True Iowa jewelry.

It’s also been a good (bad) year for those maple-seed whirligigs. I’ve never seen so many. My rain gutter has been stuffed full! I tenuously climbed the wobbly step ladder (Mary says I need Gutter Guard) several times to clean out the eave troughs, dumping gooey piles of seedlings, like slop, on my lawn. I hope they don’t germinate! Aye yi yi. When I walk Buddy, I’ve seen actual puddles and rivers of those dang things in the streets. MOUNT PLEASANT INFESTED WITH MAPLE SEEDLINGS!

Bugs, locusts, whirligigs — what’s next, a drought? Could be. This has been the first year my sump pump hasn’t run it’s head off. There is usually a period in the spring when the sump pump runs continuously — that ominous sound in the basement that I have to tell myself I want to hear, because if I don’t, it means trouble. The sump pump has hardly made a peep this spring. Good news or bad news?

I took my weed-eater into the John Deere dealer to be repaired and came out with a new tractor. (They saw me coming.) I couldn’t pass up the deal — sale price, fantastic trade-in, interest-free loan. They were like giving it away. It has a front-end loader (for moving heavy sculptures), rear snow blade (for cleaning my neighbor’s and my driveway), and a 60-inch mower deck (for mowing the world). And, oh yes, auto-attach. My son said he was going to build an addition onto his house, so I added a backhoe. You can tell the age of the boys — you know the rest.

Speaking of toys. I joined the 21st century. My son has been on me to get a better cellphone. I finally caved. “All right, already,” I told him (like swatting flies from my face), and walked into the cellphone store. They too saw me coming. I now have something called an Android. I looked it up in the dictionary. “Robot resembling a human being.” OMG! Terminator IV! At the cellphone store they told me I would have instant access to Facebook and Twitter. I told them I don’t do Facebook and Twitter. They looked at me like I was either a fossil or from outer space. It’s the same look. Whenever people question me as to why I’m not on Facebook, I pull out my standard response: “I write a weekly newspaper column that’s in 20 newspapers. How many are you in?” That shuts’m right up.

Now here’s a novel idea: I read in a book where this lady, embarrassed by the small size of her flowerbed, set up a large mirror amongst the flowers to make the flowerbed look twice its size. So I did the same thing in my lonely flowerbed. Sure ‘nuff, it does make the flowerbed look bigger. The only problem: a poor little sparrow thought there was a foreign bird trespassing on its territory. The sparrow has, for days now, been battling it’s own image. Sort’ve human-like, don’t you think?

I snapped this picture of Canada Geese near the Skunk River, along with their spring goslings. Thank you God for the great picture and the makings of another vanilla summer.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at (319) 217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com. Curt also records his columns at www.lostlakeradio.com.

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