ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Five o'clock and all is well

© Another Day in the Country

My favorite Disney cartoon is Robin Hood. I love the animal characters. Robin Hood and Maid Marion are foxes, the Prince John is, of course, a lion but a particularly cowardly lion who sucks his thumb. The poor people of the kingdom are mice and bunnies, of course. If you haven’t seen this adorable little movie, you really must!

My favorite characters are Clucky, a fat, game little hen who is the companion of Maid Marion, and this little turtle who is scared of his shadow and retreats into his shell in moments of stress.

One of the most unlikeable, but strangely memorable characters are a couple of buzzards who guard the jail where all the poor people are in prison. The one buzzard calls out the time when he is on night duty from the prison wall, “10 o’clock and all is well.”

Since I love the cartoon — and it is an old cartoon — I made sure that my grandson was introduced to its endearing characters. Much to my enjoyment, he loved them as much as I did and you can guess that after he got a toy crossbow for his birthday last year, we played “Robin Hood” regularly.

Anticipating Christmas stockings a month or so ago, I began looking for little inexpensive things to put into a stocking. Haunting all of our discount stores I found a host of wonderful surprises including a watch, small enough for Dagfinnr’s wrist (with a little alteration) that was a stop watch as well as a regular watch with a digital readout.

He really hasn’t learned to tell time efficiently so this digital clock was quite a boost to his sense of rightness. He wasn’t just guessing at the time, he knew the time right down to the second.

“5:43 and all is well!” rang out across the room (he could mimic those Disney buzzards perfectly) when he got the watch on his wrist. We all laughed and thus began our hourly updates on the time. You never knew when it was going to happen. It simply occurred whenever Dagfinnr remembered to look at his watch.

Sometimes several hours would go by without a pronouncement. We’d be in the middle of a conversation, “6:22 and all is well.” Then again, we might hear every few minutes if he had a lot of time on his hands, “6:23 and all is well.”

This watch was so fascinating to Dagfinnr — well worth the $5 I spent on it — but it had no instructions. So as all little curious boys would be inclined, Dagfinnr poked buttons and just experimented with his new acquisition.

The first night after receiving the watch, my daughter appeared at breakfast bleary-eyed.

“Did the trains going through town keep you from sleeping?” I wanted to know.

“No,” she said, “It was a three-alarm night!”

Dagfinnr had managed to set the alarm multiple times on his wrist watch and it took several days of experimenting before they were finally shut off.

My sister has a clock in her house that calls out the time — she originally got it for that reason. In fact, it calls out every fifteen minutes with its own sound of reassurance that all is well with the world. It didn’t take long before Jess began shutting down those chimes. Now, the clock just ticks. It’s like a whisper when you look up at it, “3:15 and all is well,” it proclaims shyly, the sound is almost inaudible.

There is something in us that wants to know about the passing of time. Ramona used to have a noon whistle but that stopped. On New Year’s Eve someone activated the siren at the fire house, briefly. Most of us on city council heard the siren start up, we wondered if it was information or mischief.

“Midnight…” came the wail, and we waited with baited breath to see if it would shut down instead of going on and on, which probably meant someone would need to investigate.

It was just that one blast, like the town criers of old or the little buzzard in the cartoon, “12 o’clock … and all is well.” Someone fired a shotgun and then it was quiet. Jan. 1 would be just another day in the country.

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