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Friday, December 24, 2010

From the Archives…A Christmas Card from the Valley…

This first day after the Winter solsticeTony in the Fall reminds me that the Valley Ripple has prevailed through two equinoxes and now two solstices. And thanks to you readers for suffering through my long-winded ramblings. (Perhaps the “Ripple” should have been more aptly named the “Ramble” because some of them do go on and on, don’t they?) I’ll try to keep this one brief. But sometimes a post takes on a life of its own. I make no promises. This from the Ripple’s archives:

In all the years I’ve lived in the Valley I’ve received only one Christmas card from Tony Broer. And it came about this way. Some years back Tony emigrated from his quaint 1894 homestead and moved a few hundred yards north up Tualco to a fashionable new homestead complete with an RV friendly garage.Tony's new House One glance at Tony B’s place is sufficient to show he is ultra fastidious in everything he does: his berry rows are laid out, I’m sure, with a surveyor’s stick and transit. His new home…well, there’s not a fleck of paint misplaced. And thus at Tony B.’s, you’d expect no less than golf course perfection from his yard and lawn. It’s been said that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory. For Tony, however, it was his yard that was the measure of a man.

While I can’t be certain, I suspect Tony’s first morning chore before he went out to do battle with the berries was to inspect the surrounding carpet of grass, make sure every blade was of equal height, every sprig of grass pointing in the right direction. I’m sure once a week without fail Tony lovingly edged the borders of his turf with a scalpel. I honestly believe he had erected some sort of psychic force field around his yard. Should some errant dandelion seed drift off course and wing its way toward the lawn, this invisible fence would deflect it or zap the seed altogether; the shoulder across the road could be dandelion gold, but no sunny little faces smiled from Tony’s immaculate green. They wouldn’t dare. I would walk by and whenever he was surveying his realm of grass, I would get Tony’s attention, stoop and snap off a seeded dandelion and threaten to blow its fuzzy head in the direction of his landscape. My efforts were always rewarded by a raised fist and a scowl.

The Tualco Valley is rich farmland and consequently is home to some impressive-sized annelids. In this land of worms a’plenty, I was puzzled by the lack of mole activity on Tony’s greensward. Moles are the bane of a landscaper’s existence here in the Valley. Apparently Mr. Broer’s force field worked subterraneanly as well. “Tony,” I’d asked whenever I’d see him out giving the morning’s directives to the lawn, “Why is it you don’t have any moles in your yard?” A broad smile and a shrug. “Do you want some?” The smile shrank to a scowl. Up came the fist.

Well, the inevitable happened. After all, the Valley ain’t Buchart Gardens, is it? You can’t have a mole-free lawn here. Tony should have known that. Best you can hope for is a country lawn which is pretty much the same as pasture. Tony let down his guard, took the RV on the road for a month or so, and forgot to put his force field on a timer. It was not an immaculate reception he returned to but a blemished yardscape, like pimples on a beautiful girl’s face, except some of these eruptions were more the size of boils—or carbuncles, even. Rampant molestation. I walked by one day to see Tony standing disconsolately on his porch staring out at the moonscape that was his lawn. Ah, and a sad sight it was, too; I nearly broke down myself.

The week of Christmas rolled around and the moles gifted Tony with some impressive new mounds. Christmas is a time for merriment and festivity. I hated to see Tony so dispirited over his heaped up lawn and decided he needed lightening up a bit, could use some comic relief. So in the spirit of the season I located a miniature Christmas tree, fully decorated and fine-tuned to deliver the Christmas Spirit wherever needed. Before light the next morning, tree in hand, I marched up the road to the Broer place. Even in the dark it was easy to locate a cluster of mounds. I chose the largest one and next to it I placed the tree and staked it firmly to the ground with a couple of wire stakes.

Two days later I found a Christmas card in the mailbox (Yes, the card has arrived! Finally! But you know how the mails are these days….) I opened it and read: “Merry Christmas! Looks like even the moles are celebrating the season! The Broers.” And for days afterward the little tree stood festively beside the mound. Later it disappeared, but the ornaments remained—Tony had hung them on the branches of the small oak tree near the mound where they stayed until spring.

If I didn’t thank you for that card, Tony, I thank you now. And a very Merry Christmas to you. And a very Merry Christmas to each and everyone in the Valley.

…except for the moles, that is. You troublesome little miners…I’d like to take each of your pesky moleskins and stuff it with coal. That’s my Merry Christmas to you--each and everyone!

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