Life started out briskly the other morning.
Dried poplar leaves twirled a foot above our driveway.
Silhouettes of dark clouds were on the horizon.
“LAST CALL,” read a handwritten sign at the sweet corn stand.
“What?” I thought. “They are flashing the lights on and off already?”
Instead of giving mouth to mouth to my once vibrant impatiens, I ripped them out of the dirt by their long legs and put away their pots.
My Sweet Sven’s calling in life is to gain knowledge. He likes facts.
And so this sentence came out of his perfectly formed lips.
“Hey Millie, did you know that we are going to lose two minutes of daylight every morning and every night this month?”
“It’s already Daylight Savings time?” I gasped.
“What? No. In September we will lose an hour and a half of daylight.”
Because of these harsh words, I, me, Millie Noe, now have a hankering to can my garden.
I don’t mean can it, like kick the can down the road.
I don’t mean can it, like doing the Can-Can.
I mean chop it all up. Put it in jars. Seal the lids shut in a double boiler. And stack them in the pantry.
Which is really weird, because I don’t have a garden. I don’t have a pantry. And I don’t can.
Last winter we went skiing in Minocqua.
It was on that trip that Sven discovered that my windshield wipers needed to be replaced.
Being the frugal Norwegian that he is, he got up early the next morning, drove to Walmart and picked up a new one.
“You only bought one?” I said.
“Well Millie, I wasn’t sure if I had the right kind,” he says as he snaps it into the driver’s side slot.
And life went on.
Just one week after my youngest son graduated from high school and just one day after his big party, Rene moved away from home.
He managed to sublease a beer stained apartment for the summer, near the campus of the college that he would be attending in the fall, rather than stay home, where he could eat free home cooked meals, get free advice, listen to frogs croaking by night and the golf channel’s soft clapping by day.
I know. I thought the same thing.
That kid must be nuts to leave all of that behind.
As Rene and I drove over the railroad tracks in our station wagon chucked full of clean laundry, bedding and grocery bags, he glanced back from behind the wheel at Lodi and said, “Wow, this feels weird.”
I did not cry.
I already did that in the grocery store.
“Oh my God,” I said, sitting on the seat of the city bus with my thirteen year old butt, reading the excuse my mother had written. Could life really get any worse?
That is when I learned the art of forgery.
My revised note was accepted, stamped, dropped on top of a pile of notes in the office and off to class I went for three and a half more years until I finally walked up and received my diploma. After a summer of table hopping and lounging around, I spent two semesters in college. That first college spring, with one more final to go, I married Jason. We jumped into a red TR-6 convertible with an Irish Setter in the space behind us and headed west. To our surprise we spent two years baking bread and decorating cakes in Gardiner, Montana. And then we landed back in Wisconsin, where I soon gave birth to our beautiful boys, Marques and Rene.
And then we had irreconcilalble differences that could not be reconciled. That is why they call it, irreconcilable differences.
So as not to cast any negative dispersions on Jason, I will admit, it was all my fault.
Three years later at twenty-nine, I was all grown up for the second time and about to be married again.
This time it was to my sweet Sven, who would bring along to or kitchen table, his daughter of nine years, Adrienne.