© Another Day in the Country
On the fifth day of Christmas, we put five goldfish, in my bathtub, concluding five days of extravagant fun. On the day my grandson arrived from California for Christmas vacation, we began the 12 Days of Christmas song with something unusual planned for every single day. This was my bright idea and I’m worn out already.
The five gold fish worked themselves neatly into the song in place of “five gold rings.” (You can supply the tune. I know you know it!) What I had in mind as we drove to Salina was buying five 29-cent goldfish, which we could triumphantly bring home, singing all the way, of course, and deposit in my bathtub along with the plants I’m trying to “winter over” with their resident, very small, local goldfish which had hidden in the roots of the plants. It didn’t quite work out that way.
We ended up at another shop because my daughter and her child love looking at all the exotic pets offered to unsuspecting parents — especially at this time of year. The animals that called forth the most “oooohs” and “aaaahs” were the cute little ferrets asleep in their tailor-made hammock. Immediately, I coaxed my kin toward the back of the store — away from the darling mice and the plump little hamsters, toward the fish department.
It was probably my fault that I ended up with 29 dollars worth of fish rather than the 29 cent models because I headed toward the tank with “a little bigger fish” and found the koi. Whereupon, Dagfinnr saw what he deemed “the cutest little fish of all” which was something called a “loach.”
They were disgusting looking, snakey things and I kept suggesting other water creatures to fill out our five gold fish song but we ended up getting a loach, which, “is actually gold, Baba,” as my grandchild said. And when I got to the check-out stand, that silly bottom-feeder, “beautiful,” (according to Dagfinnr) loach cost $8.98.
It’s in the tub. Everyone is thrilled, including me, and the cat now has something really big enough to watch as she sits on the edge of the bathtub scanning what she thinks is her own private pond. We’re all happy! It’s Christmas, after all, and secretly I’m wondering how I’m going to get that loach out of the bathtub and into the pond come spring. “He’ll get to be a foot long, Baba,” my grandchild crows and I shiver.
Well, it’s almost Christmas. My sister is still trying to write her Christmas newsletter. “Does anyone do these anymore?” I wondered as I composed my own. Newsletters are the adult version of “show and tell” in kindergarten. Only now most of the adults I know are on Facebook with “show and tell” going on 24 hours a day.
So, what is there left to tell? Logic then says to me that newsletters are another one of those things from the past — a relic from the olden days. I’m wondering if Christmas cards have become a thing of the past, too?
My friend Norma called last week and said, “Patwick, why aren’t you on Facebook? I could keep track of you so much easier.”
She knows why I don’t do social media stuff. She just had to chide me and I quickly assured her that a phone call from Idaho to Kansas was such a wonderful thing and then she admitted, with a laugh, that her other friends and relatives were so much easier to check in on because she didn’t have to talk to them, really!
She could just pull up their computer page and see what was happening and feel like she’d interacted with them, only I quickly assured her that she really hadn’t — she was more like a peeping tom than a conversationalist. Thirty minutes later, we said “goodbye.” I’m not sure if I’ll ever get with the program. Maybe I’m hopelessly old fashioned but I still just love getting letters.
Yesterday I got a letter from my friend DeWitt in Georgia. He’s an artist with clay and recently he’s turned his talent to making small castles and bridges for miniature gardens. His letter was handwritten, two pages long and included pictures of his latest creations, along with pictures of his former creations (his kids who I’d known as children).
I haven’t actually seen this friend in more than 20 years, and it is a stretch for me to fit the people I knew as neighbors into the people I see in these pictures; but I’m working on it as I reread the letter and show the pictures to my family.
“The days are going by so fast,” my little grandson reminds me. He’s right! These days we have together with loaches and letters are flying by in a flurry of merriment. I wonder what today will bring on another day in the country?