ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Having a free day

© Another Day in the Country

Calling his Baba on the telephone is a new skill for my 6-year-old grandson. He can now do it all by himself. So, out of the blue yesterday I answered the phone to find this deep little, slightly unfamiliar voice saying, “Hello?” when I say “Hello.” There’s a too long pause. “Dagfinnr, is that you?” another long pause. “Yes!”

Our family history runs with fast talkers, people who have a lot to say without hesitation. Then there is my grandson who was in no great rush to talk. His accomplishment was getting me on the phone by himself. Like most children, he’s been going through a stage now where he talks non-stop; but talking on the telephone is something new and different — thus the hesitation. What was it he wanted to tell me?

We finally figured it out. He had four days off from school, “in a row,” he proclaimed triumphantly — even though he avows to like school.

His school has a long weekend every six weeks, getting Friday off. This time the long weekend coincided with a holiday, thus four days off.

“So, what are you doing today?” I asked as a conversation starter. “It’s a free day,” he said. “And then tomorrow, I have another one.”

The term free day came about because he has a really busy mother. She’s a stay-at-home mom who is rarely at home, working odd hours, in order to take care of her own child and not have babysitters, since she must have the income. I’ve mentioned that she is a fencing instructor, and since he was a little tot, Dagfinnr has accompanied her on these fencing excursions.

When the week of lessons and classes is complete, he’s often heard his mother exclaim to me on the phone, “Wow, today we have a free day.” That means a staying-at-home day with no plans. Free days have become like holidays!

My grandson isn’t the only one who looks forward to free days. His auntie Jess longs for a free day. “I just want a day,” she proclaims with great vehemence, “that’s free!”

She doesn’t want phone calls or breakfast appointments, alarm clocks or surprise visits. She wants it free! “In fact,” she continues, “I’d like a free week or maybe even a free month.”

I can remember when I longed for a free day, a day without obligation, from what I called “have-tos.” However, at this stage of my life, I don’t yearn for a free day like I used to when I was younger. I rather like having a visit, an unexpected call, an appointment or event to look forward to. “Not me,” Jess exclaims, “You’re the one who likes surprises, not me!”

Well, this week, a lot of us had a free day — a holiday. Earl Gray, our rooster from the big house, has another free day, which means he’s alive. Another un-neighborly neighbor’s dog out, chasing the chickens and poor Earl Gray (who has nothing to defend the flock with other than wings) was the sacrificial lamb. We thought he’d die.

We’ve doctored his poor ripped and featherless back as best we can and isolated him from the flock as he teeters between life and death. He’s had a week of free days, and he’s eating, so perhaps he will make it back to his regular job. Last night was cold, so we brought him into the house, in his crate, for warmth. We’re trying to give him every advantage to mend.

Right now he looks like a chicken oiled up and ready for the roaster, nary a feather on his body — only with wings and head still attached. He’s a sorry sight! Free days aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, according to Earl Gray. I’m sure he’d just as soon not have another one.

What I’m trying to learn is to enjoy whatever days come my way. Free days are great, even though my art students missed a day of class and there was no mail. Like the Bible quotes the Apostle Paul who wrote letters to his friends — even from jail — and said, “I have learned in all things to be content.” It’s one of my favorite quotes. (Even though I’m not a church-goer, don’t be surprised that I quote Scripture — remember, my daddy was a preacher.)

So, you just enjoy that free day when you get one. Meanwhile, I’m content just to spend another day in the country.

 

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