Uppermost House: Sucking up the ladybugs

CANNING IN THE DARK — Karen Lewis continues to work on canning despite a power outage. To add illumination, husband and BN columnist Peter Lewis went out into the front garden and yanked out three solar-powered path lights and brought them into the kitchen, where, after being gently scolded for getting dirt on the counter, he brightened things up considerably.

CANNING IN THE DARK — Karen Lewis continues to work on canning despite a power outage. To add illumination, husband and BN columnist Peter Lewis went out into the front garden and yanked out three solar-powered path lights and brought them into the kitchen, where, after being gently scolded for getting dirt on the counter, he brightened things up considerably.

By S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

I could never be single.

My wife Karen and I do lots of stuff together. Have for over three decades. We don’t live extravagantly. Can’t afford it. Wouldn’t do it anyway. And so our days are simple and straightforward, ordinary; some might even think them lackluster and pedestrian.

We recently cleaned out our shed, for instance. Nasty building, that old shed. In the not-so-distant past when our daughter was in her “personal zoo” stage, it housed chickens and rabbits, and is currently catch-all place for old farm and garden junk of all kinds, dead snow blowers, broken tools, empty fuel containers, old bikes, a big pile of old doors with paint-a-peeling, and such like detritus of country living.

Karen, with the hope of providing a clean port in the storm for any passing cyclists during downpours, got into one of her unrestrained cleaning fits, and so we spent a pleasant afternoon schlepping out some of the past refuse of our lives, making piles for yard sale and dump, and finishing with a pair of brooms that sent dust everywhere.

On most summer weekends, we pass each other constantly in the house and in the yard. Mowing the lawn and carting stuff out to the barn, neatening up the garage, fussing about in the gardens, taking trips into the village for small things forgotten at the grocery or hardware store.

And, like the aforementioned shed expedition, we often gang up on tasks that take more than one person. We go on berry-picking adventures after church or on a pleasant evening, fold laundry together, make meals side-by-side in the kitchen, and fall asleep holding hands.

This time of year, due to the combination of manure, rain, and sunshine, rampant fecundity out in the garden means that we are canning on an almost daily basis. It’s funny how a passing comment on a frigid February evening about having “a few more beans next summer” can cause an inundation of green slivers of such magnitude that your wife peers at you over the pressure cooker with the kind of stare that calls your judgment and prudence into question: “reckless” is a word usually associated with bad driving, not to overzealous vegetable gardening.

One day last week, just as dusk was settling in for the evening, the power went out unexpectedly in the middle of a pressure-cooker load of beans. But since we cook with gas, we just lit candles and carried on. To add illumination, I went out into the front garden and yanked out three of those little solar-powered path lights and brought them into the kitchen, where, after being gently scolded for getting dirt on the counter, I brightened things up considerably.

And so our quiet little life goes on.

We had to swoop our box spring recently because Karen had run over it with the Toyota (don’t ask). And so we maneuvered big and awkward things around the bedroom for a few minutes, and just before dropping the new box spring into place Karen suggested that we clean under and behind the bed first — one of those little jobs that no one ever gets to because, let’s face it, it’s not like you run over a box spring with your car every day.

After what Karen calls “dejunking” under the bed, we noticed that there were dead ladybugs all over the place, so I stayed inside the vacant bed frame while Karen went and got the vacuum cleaner.

“I’ll hold up all the electrical cords,” I said, kneeling and reaching awkwardly. “While you suck the little critters up.”

When we were done, after the vacuum had whined down to silence and I had replaced the cords, I looked up at Karen and said, “This is marriage, isn’t it?”

“I was just thinking the same thing,” she said. And then she smiled at me so sweetly.

I could never be single.

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