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Another Day in the Country

Spring into summer

© Another Day in the Country

It’s that time of year — spring! Movement is in the air — growth, expansion, new life. Right along with that comes spring cleaning, garage sales and auctions. Out with the old! In with the new!

The Ramona volunteer fire department is working on something new — an improvement to their services. They’ve acquired a long, dark, tanker car from the railroad and they are planting it in the ground next to the building housing their fire trucks.

This will be emergency water storage in the backyard of what used to be the old barbershop in town — “used to be” as in 50 years ago.

We had this dream of making the barbershop into a gift shop — which worked for a short while until suddenly the only restaurant in town abruptly closed. No more traffic. No more sales. The barbershop building became a storage building for all the things we might need or couldn’t quite get rid of while downsizing.

The fire department said we could have a couple of years to get our stuff out of the building — “no rush.” However, a couple of years go by in a hurry these days, and my sister started shopping around for a group auction.

“Now’s the time,” she said emphatically.

And she’s right!

Getting things ready for a sale is Work with a capital letter. It’s Work sorting and boxing it for removal. It’s Work loading it up and carting it to the auction site. It’s psychological Work as we mull over the dream we had and the sadness of letting it go.

It’s grieving, in a strange way, the loss of the people in our lives who some of these things represent.

“We’ve done it before,” I said to my sister as we began the big haul.

She retorts that she’s not doing it again, but she probably will. We still have houses and roots that tie us to Ramona — useful roots that allow us to live a pretty tranquil life in the country, most of the time.

While I was unloading a car load of goodies at the old schoolhouse in Pilsen, a bus load of kids from St. Mary’s Academy pulled into the parking lot of St. John Nepomucene Church.

It was a day between storms. Boys piled out of the bus, laughing and playful. What a joy to see a bunch of clean-cut kids in school uniforms having fun on an outing. 

There’s something about school uniforms that I really like. Dressing alike is a bonding mechanism. That’s why ball teams have uniforms. You know they’re a group, what they stand for, who they represent. It’s camaraderie! 

In the school where I’m lucky enough to teach kids art once a week, they don’t have uniforms. I sometimes wish they did. Kids come to school in some pretty strange getups, wearing shorts and flip-flops when there’s snow on the ground, minus their coats in cold weather.

I’m thinking, “Where are their parents when they send them out the door like this?” 

I’m guessing these grade school lads were coming to see the birthplace of Father Kapaun.

“Boy could I tell you about him,” I wanted to call across to them.

Years ago, I put together a book, “A Saint Among Us,” in remembrance of Father Kapaun and got to know him so well as I listened to stories and interviewed people who knew him that I feel as if I knew him myself even though I never laid eyes on the man. I could give tours.

These children are the future, and I’m dealing with the past. They are just starting out, and I’m closing some things down. 

I was sorting through a box of cow figurines — knicknacks, salt shakers, crumb-catchers, and bowls. Cows, cows, cows. Already I’d called Kristina and said, “Remember all the cow stuff we had in the kitchen at Cousins’ Corner? Do you want any of it?”

I sent her pictures. She took one, but there were lots and lots more.

The cow craze had become a sly joke at Cousins’ Corner. Every time cousins came to stay in the house, another cow would appear. Sometimes it took a while to discover another cow on a shelf, until one day, cleaning, my sister would say, “Where did that cow come from?”

We’d laugh. They’d done it again.

My favorite was the crumb cleaner-upper for the table — battery operated.

I called my daughter.

“Jana, there’s a lace tablecloth here that I think came from your great-grandma. Do you want it?” I asked.

I didn’t think she would but I thought I should at least ask. She doesn’t have a regular table. Her family has only a Korean floor model. What would she do with a lace tablecloth?

It’s another day in the country, and you know what we’re doing. There’s more to haul over to Pilsen for the sale. We have time. The auction isn’t until June. My phone vibrates. I look at the text from my daughter. “Yes!” She’s a woman of few words!

Last modified June 2, 2021

 

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