A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 036

Writes of Spring: A sure sign of spring, back in Glasgow, was not the arrival of the first swallow, but the first pungent whiff of a smoldering mattress, which, having been tossed out by someone during the winter, had now dried out sufficiently to be set alight by a roving band of urchins. The acrid and penetrating stench of one filthy palliasse or horsehair sofa was ever enough to bring tears of joy to an entire neighborhood.

"The rains have slackened at last," people would cry, gratefully.

Today, mild weather and Punky's pig brought back these memories and inspired a short verse.

The roar of a rust-box with holes in the tail-pipe,

The Charbonneaus' pig making Central Street smell ripe,

Melees and frost heaves and sandstorms each spring,

These are a few of my favorite things.

Dog Update: Smokey Lapanne, Farmingtonís talking dog with the one-word vocabulary of "Hullo!" inspired Marshall Colwell, Farmingtonís talking dog officer, to drive around town, last week with a fluttering flag bearing the profundity, "Hi, there!"

This friendly gesture, or ruse, was successful in luring 47 dogs out of their jungle bases for a rabies shot. Some dogs even went as far as to get licensed. But the armistice will expire, according to the marshall, at sundown on April 15 and normal hostilities will resume. And this time, with a completely modernized image, he means business, said a dapper marshall in a campaign Stetson, para-military jacket and shirt, U.S. cavalry trousers with stripe and polished boots. Packing a .357 Ruger pistol, he looked an efficient cross between General Patton and Dirty Harry. Make his day, punks! Get legal!

The Athens of New Hampshire: It's that time of year again when junior high thoughts turn to poetry. Last year, pupils read to those folks in a home for the elderly, who had not been spry enough to lock themselves in their rooms. These four senior citizens were fortunate to hear Christine Cardin's inspired Easter line "Let's all eat that turkey pie." Hard to follow!

This year Debbie Hussey was moved to verse after gazing out from the schoolroom onto Mrs. Mosher's yard.

"Leaves are flying everywhere,

Paper and other litter on the ground is blowing everywhere."

Dennis Smith took up the theme with:

The grass is slowly turning green

Soon it will be time to rake the leaves.

Still an uninspiring vernal scene, though, without the drifting grey smoke of a burning mattress up the nostrils.

Out of Africa: What with the Oscar winner and the Libyan Leader, not to mention fascinating scenarios in Ethiopia, Angola, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Liberia, Chad and Sudan, when I heard that sixth grade pupils were doing African skits, I felt I had a news story. Tim Woodward and class teacher Cheryl Chase were kind enough to allow me to watch the premiere performance.

(The kids, after some research had written their own scripts, constructed props and made excellent masks and costumes.) What followed may not have been an accurate depiction of African village, but the skits were brisk and illuminating.

Two kids, dressed as tribesmen, had obviously been reading up on drought.

"Gee, we need rain," said one.

"We haven't had it in a century," agreed the other.

"What about a rain dance," suggested the first.



This short play was succeeded by an African baby shower (does that count as rain?) which followed traditional Farmington lines, with gifts of a nightdress, diapers, cabbage patch dress and baby carriage. The final present, of bananas, made its exotic point, though.

Then two starving cannibals tried and failed to eat a missionary who escaped during a Dance Before Meals.

Lastly, two large warriors showed a small warrior how to use a spear. Frequent referral was made to notes. The skit culminated with the obligatory dance sequence and then they discovered that they had forgotten to take their tree on stage, the one they had made over two days with an electric drill. Aw shucks!

When the applause died away, Mr. Woodward and Miss Chase commended the students on their enthusiasm and noted that much work had gone into these mini-productions. They felt, however, that the quintessential African village had not yet been conjured up, and that a further week's library research might bear fruit.

Suggested reading: Mr. Johnston by Joyce Cary, A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd and Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.

6th Grade II: Last week's melee made Kevin Brown reminisce that he had shared a desk, at elementary school years before, with one of the currently accused Melee-nesians. His classmate had done something mischievous to a teacher, who had slapped him round the ears. This caused the young chap to panic, run over the desktops, and finally be carried like a log into the principal's office by five adults.

The day after Kevinís recollection, the police and accused were down in the station, awaiting the arrival of Judge Nute, before coming up into court. The Town Hall foyer was also bustling with relatives and spectators, but the courtroom itself, was, for the moment, deserted. That is, except for Kevin Brown. Poking behind the judge's desk, he had discovered a length of rope, which he had fashioned into a business-like hangman's noose, and flopped over Judge Nute's bench. Envisaging a 20-man log, this time, I persuaded Kevin to dismantle the joke before his buddy appeared and flipped.

Mudding News: Another sign of spring, is the replacement of plow frames on four-wheel vehicles with winches. This is a sure indication of mud, an essential ingredient for the minority sport of mudding. My mentor, in this field is Nut Brown Maiden, who described Pound Road and Field Road as "fair" at present, but withholds her endorsement from Teneriffe Mountain Road, which has a rut as deep as a jeep. Tumbledown Dick Road and Bluebeard Road, wherever they may be, are also expected to come into peak condition soon.

Nut Brown's Tip of the Month is, "In emergencies, when you have used up all your windscreen wiper fluid, pour a can of Budweiser into the wash container."

April 1, 1986

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