Now here was a Mom for the great outdoors
JOHN HARRIGAN | May 10. 2014 9:56PM
I wish I had my Mom to thank for such affable shifting of gears. "No problem," she'd say, slimy fish in the sink, "we'll eat them tonight," and we did.
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I guess the above would be doggerel, and I could keep at it until the wee hours, savoring the flow of thoughts and words from cranium down to keyboard. True poets would throw up.
What a mother we had, defying convention at every turn. On a warm, rainy morning in May, she'd throw us out - rain slickers, boots and all - with the command, "Go play in the mud."
Neighboring children watched from inside, their noses pressed to the glass. Somehow, we survived until supper.
"Fifty dollars," I replied, quite a sum for the times.
"No way," said Dad, or something loftier that meant the same thing.
A quiet settled over the table, and then Mom voiced her soft sentence that could not be defied, and off to the Far North I went.
This was a mother who helped me shellac my great-grandmother's snowshoes so I could hunt rabbits in the swamp, snowshoes that now hang on my wall. This was a mother who helped my brother, Pete, and me get ready for a mid-winter cookout far up on Hicks Hill, our stove consisting of a strip of cardboard coiled in paraffin in a tin can. Kids alone, in the woods, with a fire? Clap hand to forehead, and faint.
Mrs. Wiswell, our seventh-grade teacher, gave us an art assignment, the theme being wildlife.
I have somewhat of an art talent that I've never developed, but an earlier drawing, of a redwing blackbird atop a cattail, had come out fairly well, I thought, so I begged a big sheet of newsprint from the News and Sentinel and set to work on a rendition of a spotted fawn asleep in the woods, lady's slippers and all.
Mrs. Wiswell gave it an A, and it then disappeared in the back of some closet at home.
Years and years later, when I was a supposed grand lord pooh-bah in the newspaper business, there occurred a bare space on a wall in the News and Sentinel's front office, and there suddenly appeared, as if overnight, and it probably was, my beautifully framed drawing of the fawn and the flowers, a gift from my Mom to me.