Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Memories

Most houses around here are quite old and most have one thing in common. Whether you live in an apartment in town like these

a regular house like these

a historic place such as

a fancy old Bed & Breakfast like

a farm, such as I grew up on, something like these

or perhaps something a bit more rustic like

They tend to have windows similar to these

and need fall installation & spring removal. This generally looks something like this

Which is what this post is about.

The farms where I spent the bigger part of my youth were a two farm family operation. Usually this worked out to the benefit of all involved. We always had help doing the chores, projects, and farming in general. One area of responsibility somehow fell to me alone during the third spring I lived there. That particular spring Uncle F took a bad tumble in the apple barn which resulted in a broken leg. Since it was spring and time for storm windows to come down for repairs, cleaning, and storage, and since Uncle F usually did all of that particular chore, it somehow was decided in my absence (tending the horses) that from then on it would be my duty to complete this task as I was big enough to tote said windows up & down a tall ladder safely.
Having helped Uncle F by holding the ladder and observing him do it, it took little extra instruction for me to step into his shoes as far as the windows were concerned. Not knowing this would turn out to my advantage, I did my usual grumbling and muttering under my breath about child labor laws and a definite lack of fairness in deciding who did what. Then, I dragged my butt outside, gathered up the 'window cart', a short & tall ladder, some rope, and assorted tools such as were needed to persuade the windows to give up their winter-induced grip on the house.
It was only on the third day when the last window was removed in the late afternoon that I started to see how some good, in my view anyway, could come from being saddled with this seemingly horrible task. As I unloaded the last of the windows into the small shed we used to repair & store them in during summer I suddenly realized how far from the rest of the farm buildings this shed was. I'd always known of course, just had never really 'noticed' before. The shed was the old snow fence shed which had become too small to hold the ever-growing amount of fence rolls. When the rolls were moved to a newer and larger shed, this one had seemed the perfect place to store the windows that had been, until then, stacked in various locations where space could be found.
That evening after dinner & feeding the horses, I told my Uncle I was going to try to make use of the last daylight to start sorting windows. While I was patiently moving the windows to the door to see them better, I noticed a number of small birds flitting around the edge of the forest behind the shed. Seeing that this activity required young boy monitoring, I promptly crept quietly as close to them as I could manage and sat on the damp pasture grass. I stayed and watched them peacefully going about constructing homes in the trees to house their expected family additions until it was too dark to see them any longer.
The next day I surprised and pleased my Uncle R to no end when I wolfed down breakfast saying I needed to do the horses so I could get an early start on the window repairs. Soon I was where I'd spend the next two weeks, alone and observing the activity in the trees as I worked quietly on getting the windows ready for fall use. To this end, I'd moved the workbench around back of the shed and would use the cart to move a few windows at a time out to be tended to.
And so it was that today, while sitting in my living room with the windows open to the fresh spring breezes, I heard the chirping of a multitude of tiny voices as the birds outside went about constructing homes for the coming summer in the trees next to our building. That sound, and the spring breeze, resulted in my being transported mentally back to that happy time every spring on the farms when I'd 'grudgingly' tackle the 'horrible' task of repairing the storm windows, at least everyone thought I disliked it, and keeping it that way ensured I'd be left on my own. After all, who wants to listen to a whiny, crabby, ill-tempered young boy gripe about unfairness and hard work when they don't need to. Another lesson that's served me well over the years. Let'em think you'll explode if bothered and need to 'calm down'. Then spend quiet time just daydreaming in the spring breezes listening to the birds, or at any other time. It's a great way to spend all or part of the day. Until next time, take care.


sandy's notes said...

You were up very early today, or went to bed very early this morning. What a wonderful memory and story to be told.

Hope you're feeling a little better each day.

Capn Dyke said...

A Low Bow t'ye for th'fine etchin', Me Mike S. It made its way t'Me Self just fine.

Midlife Mom said...

Hi Mike, Thanks for stopping by! Love the pictures of the old homes, especially the yellow one with the snow, just gorgeous! I hail from the Pine Tree State myself so those homes looked familiar. And the snow!! Raining cats and dogs here today, going to have some flooding I'm afraid.

Midlife Mom said... it hail or hale!? lol!

Deanna said...

I love this windowy tale. Glad you're back to blogging.

Natalie said...

mike this post was perfect. just perfect. your words painted a wonderful picture for us. thanks for sharing!

Mies said...

Yes, quiet alone time is always good... Spring is time for change and renewing ones soul...or windows, which ever comes first:)


G.S. said...

Hi Mike, I was recently "tagged" and have in turn tagged you. I don't know if this is your thing, but if you'd like to participate, please check out my latest post. Loved the tender windows/birds story, thanks.

FENICLE said...

Those first homes were beautiful and very historic looking. And big!!! But I love the woods :)

Brother Tim said...

Great story, Mike.

I frequently use the same strategy when working on boats. It keeps the owners and others away, as I secretly enjoy the serenity and solitude of being on the water.

Midlife Mom said...

Yes they sure are getting hit up in the county. My niece lives up there so I will be posting some pictures she sent me this weekend when I get a minute. Know the Jay area well, my sister lives in Livermore. Small world. Love how hilly it is in that area. It's cold here this morning, will have to bundle up to go riding.

Mike S said...

Sandy, I prefer to not awaken to the sunrise. I'm more comfortable approaching it from the midnight side and taking a nap in the morning after the sun's fully up.

Cap'n, glad to hear that. Thought it right comical.

Midlife Mom, nice to see you over here too. I think you'll find it's 'hail'. hehehe Chilly here today also. Big hills is one thing we got plenty of, even got the odd mountain or two in the 'backyard'.

Deanna, now I just need to think of stuff to write about.

Natalie, high praise from one of my favorite bloggers! Very nice of you, thanks.

Mies, the older I get, the quieter I like it.

GS, might be awhile, but I may give it a go again. Did a similar thing some time ago I think. Not sure, I'll have to check.

Fenicle, another thing we got loads of here is old homes. Emphasis on 'old'. I prefer the woods too.

Tim, think they'd miss their boat if you sailed it up here and we spent the summer island hopping along our coast.

Cherie said...

Ah, you never disappoint, Mike. From the pictures of human homes - such variety - to your tale of window chores as a boy.

Nicely done!

tshsmom said...

What a great memory!

The reverse is true at our house. The only way I'm NOT alone doing chores, is if I whine, cajole, yell, and carry on. ;)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful word painter you are... thanks for sharing your stories with us!