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Millie Noe | November 18, 2017

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Last Summer Fling

labor day tent view with millie
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.

But you know what I’m talking about.
The sudden sense of urgency that comes over you.
That feeling of a need to accomplish a task.
ANYTHING.
Get something done.
You consider for a moment, going for a jog. You reject that thought. You think about throwing together a pot of chili. You make toast for a B.L.T instead. You find yourself wanting to clean the shit out of your closets as you dig for a pair of shoes. You just put them on and mow the grass.
But most of all you are overcome with that irresistable desire to go out and buy paint.
It happens to all of us.
“Sven, I want those drawers from your old work van.”
“Why?”
“So I can to fix them up.”
“Why?” he says. “What are you going to put in all those old drawers?”
Did he really just ask me that?
I suppose this question makes sense coming from a guy who still has an empty dresser drawer except for that lonely golf ball rolling around in it, because he put his summer clothes into that plastic bin I bought for him last year and then he never replaced his T-shirts with his sweaters or the empty drawer with his T-shirts when Spring came around. He truly doesn’t know what goes into drawers. And life up in our bedroom has been amiss ever since I gave him that plastic bin.
As far as I can tell, a person doesn’t always know what is going to end up in her drawers until it is too late anyway.
So there is no sense in worrying about it ahead of time.
Once you have drawers, unless you are Sven, you will put stuff in them.
He is right on one level. I don’t need those little drawers anymore than I need a bikini made out of dental floss. But that’s not the point. The point is, those little drawers are where I could keep a bikini made out of dental floss.
“They are cute. They have potential. They need to be painted. Sheez, Sven. I have all kinds of things to put in those drawers,” I said.
“Fine,” he says. “You can have the drawers.”
“Thanks. And will you make a cabinet for me to slide them into?”
A bee bounced off my arm just the other day. He burped and said rather embarrassedly, “Shcoooze me.”
You see, it is September, my second favorite month after March, June and October.
Having lived through fifty-nine Labor Day Weekends in this state of Wisconsin, that I like to call home, I know the drill.
It all starts out rather abruptly. You are minding your own business, sipping your coffee and surfing the internet, when your co-worker next door to you says, “Holy shit, August is already over!” And then she flips her calendar picture of fluffy white kittens over to two English Bulldogs sleeping in a hammock.
“Oh, they are adorable,” we all say, gathering around.
And then we go back to our desks and we all flip our calendars over to see what lies in store for us.
“What happened to the summer? How did this happen?” says a voice on the other side of the gray cubicle wall.
“Oh. Look at these mountain lions.”
Next, you hear those exact words come out of your own mouth. They fly past your parted lips and they flutter around in the air, mixing in with all the rest of the same phrases.
You watch your sister, Louisa, nod her sun bleached hair.
“I know! Can you believe it?” she says.
And then Louisa says to the neighbor, “Where did the summer go?”
And then, panic begins to set in.
And this is when one decides that one must have one last summer fling, before the summer is over, which is silly because summer is not over. It is only the very beginning of the end. And the very beginning of the end is a lot different than the very end of the end.
It’s like a football game on Thanksgiving. The the table is set. The two minute warning goes off.
“What?” my mother would scream. “You said there were two minutes left a half an hour ago!”
“They are reviewing the play,” the living room would holler back.
“For the Love of God!”
And then you would hear potatoes being shoved back into the oven.
Because there is a lot of time left.
Labor Day Weekend of 2016, was no different than any other.
After the calendar flip we all hopped onto email. We all pulled out our cell phones. And we all sent out hasty invites that went something like this, “Labor Day Weekend Party. Bring your own everything. Be there or be square.”
labor day drink
One must stay at a cottage, when it is Labor Day Weekend.
If one doesn’t have a cottage, one must find someone who does.
Because there is still time for one last summer fling.
Even if it is a false alarm.
“Millie, let’s sleep in our tent,” said Sven.
“The cottage has beds.”
“I know, but I want to sleep in the tent down by the campfire. We haven’t done that all summer.”
“But?’
“We can put the air mattress in it.”
“Doesn’t it have a leak?” I said.
“I don’t know. Does it?”
“I don’t know.”
Sven had used the oldest trick in the book. The old, “summer is gonna get away from you,” psychology.
“Oh no you don’t, you sneaky little summer. You will not disappear before Millie and Sven sleep in that tent down by that campfire! How dare you?!”
And so, I stripped the sheets, pillows and the comforter right off the bed.
Sven tossed the air mattress and the pump into the back seat.
When we pulled up to the cottage, there was an adorable little drink sitting under the tree all by itself.
“I am just sitting here looking pretty. It is just what I do. Hey, have seen my mama?” said the drink without saying a word.
“Well, if your mama doesn’t claim you within the hour, I am going to keep you,” said Louisa walking up to help unload our car.
“Where did it come from?” I said, glancing it’s way.
“We don’t know. It’s Labor Day Weekend. It could belong to anybody.”
Angelique picked up that precious, watered down drink from under that tree a few hours later as we made our way over to listen to the band a few doors down, leaving behind our men standing around a smoking grill, a counter covered in salads, a pot of chili simmering on the burner and a sheet of seasoned potatoes baking in the oven.
“That was your drink?” I said to Angelique.
“Yeah, I set it there when I went home to walk the dogs.”
We returned to the cottage and ate everything in our path.
And then it was dark.
My sweet Sven likes to get to bed early. He likes to fall asleep to the sounds of the campfire.
“Hey, Millie will you blow me up?” came Sven’s muffled words from behind the zippered tent screen.
After a thirty seconds of listening to what sounded like a vacuum sucking the stars out of the sky, Sven and his mattress were be happy.
And then again.
And then again.
And then Sven drifted off to sleep and he was sucked up by that very mattress.
Around two A.M. Sven woke up to hear the last two campfire stragglers. One would be his very own beloved Millie and the other her buddy from next door, Alvin.
Did you know that it is much more difficult to fall asleep trying to tune out a conversation between two idiots in the wee hours of the morning than it is to doze off listening to the cacophony of a crowded campfire?
I didn’t either.
I didn’t even know the word cacophony.
But that is what Sven told me.
And Sven is factual.
“What do you and Alvin talk about all night?” asked Louisa.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“No idea?” she says handing me a cup of hot coffee and crawling into the tent.
“Well, I remember something about Barney Fife and Pipi Longstocking.”
“Until four in the morning?”
“If you really want to know, you can ask Sven.”
“Hey there he is,” Louisa says pointing out the door.
labor day millie in tent
“Hey, Sven! Will you blow us up?”