I watched thunderheads build in the northern sky from a lawn chair cooled by a soft maple’s shade. Mourning doves, which can imitate other birds’ voices, whispered in the distance. Bogie, who works the woods all night, barking and chasing animals he is incapable of catching, was sprawled and asleep nearby.
The day before, National Public Radio reported that it’s no longer an insult to call someone a bird brain because the notion that brain size equates to intelligence is false. That’s particularly good news for dinosaurs — despite weighing 3 tons or more, their brains weighed less than 5 ounces.
A lawn chair respite ideally clears a cluttered mind and is an opportunity for thoughts to settle like chaff in the wind. The time was also used to avoid vacuuming the carpet that had been stripped of its furniture. The shag had been laid in the late 1970s and had gone well past its best-if-used-by date.
Professional decorators generally agree that '70s-era homeowners wanted to outfit their homes in brash colors. Avocado green toilets, olive green refrigerators and mustard brown ovens were cool and not cringe-worthy. Natural wood floors were covered in brick red, rust orange and grass green shag.
Loudness fit a decade that included out-of-control inflation and economic troubles, hostages taken in Iran, gasoline shortages and a bellicose Soviet Union.
Olive green and rust orange moved out in the 1980s, which Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan helped define as the “morning again in America’’ decade. Minnesota's own Walter Mondale couldn’t muster a popular response — he lost the Electoral College vote in every state except Minnesota in one of the biggest landslides ever.
Mondale made much better history by picking Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in 1984 — the first and last female to appear on the presidential ballot until John McCain chose Sarah Palin in 2008.
Our '70s shag is an extremely dull brown and morbid blue. We once had the notion to pull it up to expose the wood, but sheets of glued plywood wouldn’t produce a natural look or an improvement.
The wind switched to the east, gained speed and ended the daydream. The storm that followed caused the creek to again escape its banks and flood the field.
When the storm ended, I retrieved the lawn chair that had been blown into the evergreens. Bogie, shaken by nearby lightning and rolling thunder, followed close behind.
The calm after the storm was interrupted by a horrible shriek coming from the machine shed.
Two large and mean-to-the-bone tomcats, one orange and the other black, were locked in mortal combat in a bid to claim the food in the dog’s dish as their own. Both felines skedaddled through a hole in the tin to escape the menacing man wielding a baseball bat.
There is an upside to carpet cleaning that goes beyond slaying dust bunnies. Coins minted during Bill Clinton’s presidency were found in the children’s former bedrooms, along with baseball and birthday cards hidden in mostly empty closets.
Mother’s Singer sewing machine, which despite its neglected state remains a shrine, dominates a closet. Broken needles aside, she was most happy with a thimble on her index finger, a needle clenched in her lips and a purchased pattern to follow.
A question arose whether it should be moved to the new house in town. It remains, along with the oak desk that held important letters and documents, a treasure. Certain things must not be let go of — perhaps out of fear that once they are gone, memories too will be lost.
It’s a baseless concern because the bond that links us will never break. Love, we know, endures and is unbreakable.
The remainder of the day is spent picking up branches tossed to the ground in the storm. The sun has broken through the clouds and the mourning doves’ melody returns.
The day ended as it began — in a lawn chair with thoughts floating through like dandelion seeds seeking a home.