“You look rough,” George Mackenzie said to Dave Winston the other morning as they sat at the picnic table that’s been moved to the parking lot at Mabel’s Grill and has the company of four others now that Mabel’s allowed to have patio service. “Did you have a good night that just went on too late or a bad night from something like a sow with a tough farrowing?”
“Definitely not a night out!” said Dave. “The smoke detector started beeping at three in the morning – not the smoke alarm but the one that warns you that the battery’s low.”
“Why is it that those things only run out of power in the middle of the night?” wondered Molly Whiteside as she delivered their coffees. Molly’s back at work now that Mabel can serve more customers.
“I tried to ignore it but that thing’s more persistent than those people who call you to tell you there’s a security problem with a credit card that you don’t even have. And then my wife kept jabbing me with an elbow to get up and fix the thing. The problem with having a slim, fit wife is that she’s got power in her jabs and the point of her elbow is sharp enough to get right between your ribs and really hurt.”
“Did you not change the battery when the clocks changed, like they’re always saying to do?” Molly asked.
“I forgot to buy batteries ahead of time and, of course, by the end of the next week, they’d closed everything down for the pandemic and it was easier to plan a moon mission than to go to a hardware store and buy a couple of batteries. I kept thinking I could wait for ‘tomorrow’ and first thing you know tomorrow became yesterday – or rather, last night.”
“The middle of the night is never the best time to have to do something like that,” said Cliff Murray.
“Tell me about it,” Dave said. “I had to go to the garage to get the stepladder which was behind the car, the trim mower and a rake – that I stepped on in my bare feet and which promptly smacked me in the chops.”
“I’ll bet you remember to buy batteries before it’s time to change them come fall,” laughed Molly.
“If I don’t, my wife will,” said Dave. “I got revenge by making her steady the ladder while I climbed up and took out the dead battery. Neither of us got back to sleep.”
You could tell George had something on his mind even before he’d seen Dave’s condition. He finally got to it. “What’s with all the milkweed I see growing in your fencerow?” he asked Cliff.
“I figure its not doing any harm there and you don’t get beautiful butterflies without milkweed for their caterpillars to eat.”
“Ha!” grunted George. “Butter-flies are just worms with wings.”
“Oh come on, Monarch butterflies are beautiful,” said Cliff.
“All that milkweed doesn’t look neat,” grumbled George. “I was brought up to have a neat farm. It took me years to get used to no-till planting because it looks so messy. My Dad used to work the soil so fine you could write your name in it with your finger. Of course that’s when diesel was cheap. Now, with the carbon tax, you’ve almost have to no-till to cut fuel costs.”
“That might be the reason for the carbon tax,” Cliff said slyly.
“Well I like butterflies so thanks, Cliff, for giving them a home,” said Molly. “In fact I think people are prejudiced against bugs in general,” she said as she collected the cream and sugar and took them back inside before they attracted flies, wasps and beer bugs.
“You sound like my granddaughter,” grumbled George. “You should hear her if she sees me get out the sprayer for my apple trees. I swear, she’d complain if I swatted a mosquito.”
“That’ll be next,” chuckled Dave. “PETB – People for the Ethical Treatment of Bugs.”
“Or how about PETV?” smiled Cliff. “People for the Ethical Treatment of Viruses. I mean all this soap and water and hand sanitizers. Isn’t sombody going to make an argument that viruses have a right to live too?”◊