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Mychal Wilmes: Rut-filled driveway adds to the adventure

You have without a doubt the dirtiest car in the parking lot, he said.

It's easy to explain that the mud, which is splattered like millions of Mayflies on the side windows and doors, is due to failed attempts to dodge puddles and ruts. The dead-end driveway resembles a moonscape. Which puddle to avoid and which to dive into full-throttle adds excitement to a dull, cloudy morning.

May is supposed to be about flowers, and June a time to delight in daylight. The dandelions have done well, their strong stalks able to withstand the battering much better than the hostas. Thistles — tall and spindly — tower over the flower bed and compete for space with the volunteer wild raspberries.

The picture of three little kids sitting in a blossoming dandelion ocean reminds yet again that the much-hated weed has a place in the lawn.

The ash, planted to mark a second-grader's Arbor Day, has grown to 30 feet beside the squat evergreen. The fact that they have laid down roots that now threaten the septic system is my fault; not theirs. Growth doesn't come without the certainty of pain — be it a root-ruined septic or a child's dreams hardened by reality.


Forest Gump famously said, "My momma always said, life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'' A far more weighty seer — Nostradamus — claimed to see centuries ahead to wars, disasters and great rulers. He must have had a great press agent because more than 600 years after his death, his predictions are still scrutinized for clues.

I can, with limited certainty, say that the sun will rise and set tomorrow with or without me. Prepare each day as if it is the last is wise advice if taken with an optimistic mindset.

Tomorrows quickly add up to a thousand yesterdays, which explains why the children who delighted in seeing the wonders the homestead had to offer — the pheasant chicks moving through the tall grass, the angry barn swallows that swooped close to their heads, the fawns carefully hidden by their mothers in the tall grass and baby bunny nests disturbed by a child's busy hands — are exploring far bigger worlds.

Their dad might well have sent them off in different directions, but it is wise that he lacks the power to do so. He has instead rediscovered the old wonders and appreciates them even more than before.

Kathy said that it might be time, now that we are older, to sell the place and move to town where blizzards, ruts and septic tanks don't exist. A move would mean adjustments to next-door neighbors a few feet away and not a mile distant. Neighbors are good, but isolation is comfortably familiar.

I have nary a clue to what this place is worth, but be assured that it is worth much more to us than it would be to you. That is as it should be. After all, dreams were built inside its walls and on the lawn, where kids blew bubbles and watched the wind carry them away.

Together, we learned to throw and catch and run from imaginary monsters on full-moon nights. We played in the sandbox, ate smores scorched by the fire and thought that life couldn't get any better.

It's still pretty good.


Dodging mud puddles and ruts in the car amounts is a thrill, and battling the thistles in the flower bed and the quack grass in the garden is a noble cause.

One doesn't need to be a modern-day Nostradamus to predict who is going to win that fight.

Mychal Wilmes is managing editor of Agri News, a weekly agriculture newspaper published by the Post-Bulletin Co.

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