Thursday, July 10, 2008
The Racket on the Farm
There is no getting any rest on the farm for the city girl. My niece Erin, who has come to visit, has dark circles under her eyes and yawns more than any normal American sixteen-year-old kid has a right to. And it’s not because she’s used to the clamor of the city—horns honking, bottles breaking, laughter and tinny music coming from the alley, and this is dead quiet. Too quiet. That’s not it at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite. She claims Spot the Donkey hee-haws in the middle of the night and wakes her up. I hear nothing. She said a wild animal of some sort, something very big and ferocious, perhaps a grizzly bear, or even Bigfoot himself, woke her up after Spot was done with his shenanigans. Then The Big Stupid, who recently found his voice and whose bark is deep and full-bodied like what would come from a very large breed such as a St. Bernard (we don’t know what he is, adopted from the pound, he’s like a potluck supper), spotted deer encroaching on my garden on the side of the garage and he ran from window to window barking at them. I imagine he was thinking, “Hmm, this bark comes in handy,” amazed at himself. I went down to pee and let him out. He can’t catch the deer but he’s good at scaring them away.
After that commotion was over, Erin said the cows were mooing. I didn’t hear that either. I’m not saying the girl is lying. But she’s got one set of ears on her.
After the cows, when she finally drifted back to sleep, she had a dream her cell phone was ringing and it was on vibrate. She jumped up and nearly hit her head on the shutter next to the bed. Turns out it wasn’t the phone at all but the rare king bee buzzing against the screen, dive-bombing it, trying to bust through. (In truth, there is no such thing as a rare king bee, as far as I know, but there’s a humongous bee around here, about as big as a man’s big toe, that we felt we were within our rights renaming, considering no one will know and we have no idea what kind of bee he really is. But he’s a monster.)
Throughout the night, the frogs croaked like this was the bayou and the resident whippoorwill called from somewhere in the black trees on the edge of the horses’ field. These noises I know were happening because I hear them myself all the time. Not only the frogs and the whippoorwill, but crickets and an owl. Erin said it’s worse than living over a tavern that does karaoke on Friday nights and has brawls in the gravel parking lot when last call is over—all the noises around here. I’m pooh-poohing that. You can’t compare the lonely sound of the whippoorwill! whippoorwill! whippoorwill! to a drunk guy singing “Taking Care of Business.”
When the first light came and I was on the porch having my morning coffee, I heard the neighbor’s rooster. That’s my favorite farm sound, a rooster cockadoodledooing. In the background, there was a cacophony of assorted bird songs, tweeting and twittering and whistling, starting their day, looking for worms and rotten cherries that dropped from the trees—easy pickin’s. Apparently, some of these birds hang out by Erin’s window and flutter against the glass up top. Flap. Flap. Flap. Maybe they’re building a nest up there, in the eaves or on the sill, I don’t know.
Included in the morning songs of the birds was a hummingbird, about the size of the rare king bee. He was like a miniature engine zooming around the purple flowers on my hostas. Not long after, Eldon came around on his tractor. He tipped his straw hat when he went by. Then Kurt’s alarm went off. That’s a whole racket in itself. That clock rings incessantly and shatters all peace and quiet within a two-acre radius for a good half hour every morning. I have to go up there myself and hit the snooze button at least twice and shake him and lie and say it’s later than it is and we’re all getting a headache from the ringing so please get up, before he will finally struggle out of the sheets and shut it off. Sometimes he curses. He’s been known to stomp. There have been occasions where I was outside with some service provider, the blacksmith for instance, and he’d look up and ask, “What’s that ringing?”
“Oh, that’s Kurt’s alarm clock. He’ll get it sooner or later.” Then I pretend I don’t hear it. And the blacksmith goes along with it and keeps right on nailing like he doesn’t hear it either.
But if you’re sleeping in the room right next door, or trying to, it’s no use.
Right around that time, MoJo the Siamese cat, known for being vocal, starts meowing. He wants in. He wants out. He wants in. I think he meows mainly to hear his own voice because it doesn’t matter what you give him; he’ll find something else to meow about. Sometimes he rubs up against the dog who innocently leans down and sniffs him. Then all hell breaks loose. “Don’t touch me!” He hisses and whacks the dog. The Big Stupid yelps and runs around in circles, skids across the floor, tail clamped to his butt, while MoJo screams at him, occasionally reaches out for another swat, and the dog goes faster, his nails clicking on the floor, until he crashes into the sink or rolls under the table knocking a chair over. In other words, the fur is flying and the sun is barely up.
Add to that the physical labor this city girl has been doing, chores she’s not used to—picking up manure, weeding the garden, sweeping the barn, carrying buckets of water…and this kid is pooped. Therefore she has been partaking in the afternoon nap, of which I myself am an aficionado of. She gets in maybe an hour on the couch before the afternoon thunderstorms start and it sounds like we are being bombed.