The Stewart Family
By Suzanne Mazer Stewart
They say that the pure and simple truth isn't always so simple. Well, I don't about that sort of philosophizing, but I'm beginning to think that the simple life ain't all it's cracked up to be, either. Six kids, 2 dogs, and a home in a place called Frogpond can complicate things to the point where even old Plato would be confused.
Take, for example, a conversation that took place with the youngest two tadpoles the other day. A new family in town has raised more than a few questions. The trouble with this family is that they are 100% Northerner. I'm talking Upper-New-York-State Yankees, here. And, well, that just makes them different from everybody else my two young'ns know.
We've gotten past the "Mama, why do they talk funny?" and the "Why do they wear shoes in the summer time to play in the yard?" The one they just can't quite seem to comprehend, and no amount of explanation of Mama and Daddy's can get them to understand, though, is why anyone would name a perfectly good dog "Reginald."
All the dogs they've ever known have had good, solid dog names, like Buck, Sam, Rufus, Blue, Molly or Petey. Why, we've even got one friend who just named his mutt "Dog." But a Reginald? It just goes against the grain somehow. The littlest tadpole is affected by this the most. He keeps saying "Poor doggy, stuck with a name like that" with a little shake of his little head. And that's just for starters, folks.
Then, there's the frog that just can't quite seem to leave the washing machine alone. He's a tree frog who apparently prefers the Whirlpool to the willow. I find him perched on the outside of the machine, on the inside if some one leaves the lid open, and once I had to retrieve him from the center of the control knob before I could turn it on. He is, apparently, small enough to squeeze under the outside basement door, and is, apparently, coming in on a regular basis.
I've asked several people their opinions on what to do with him and no one seems to be able to come up with anything. Oh, I've had plenty of suggestions on why he's behaving in this manner, but that doesn't really help, now does it? I don't care if he's trying to get away from the cats, the dogs, the kids or the rain. I'm just trying to do the laundry, frog-free.
Speaking of wildlife, our smooth-headed ol' hound, Sam, has been at it again, proving just how brainless his smooth head is. This time it's the chipmunks that have got him amazed and confused.
We've got an old stone wall up by the road that is home to at least four chipmunks. They run in and out between and under the stones, busily preparing for the colder conditions that will inevitably come. Now, Sam is just bound and determined that they are trespassing on his turf, and in grandest Watch Dog fashion, he is just as bound and determined to catch and remove them.
Problem is, no one has informed the chipmunks of this. Every time he sees one of them, sunning itself on the top of the wall or pausing to sniff the wind, he takes after it faster than a Nascar racer after a checkered flag.
Every time, the chipmunk sees him and darts back into its safe little home in the wall. And every time, without fail, Sam can't brake quick enough and smacks head-first into that very same, very hard stone wall. He usually just sits back, this dazed look on his sad face, while the chipmunks re-emerge on another part of the wall to laugh their little chipmunk chuckles.
Now, I don't know about you, but there is nothing like a dazed and confused hound being laughed at by a bunch of rodents to just make you wonder at the nature of God's sense of humor.
Here's another one for all of you who think frogs in washing machines and chipmunks and hound dogs aren't any big thing - teen age boys.
First of all, any mother of a male child will tell you that it's one of life's great mysteries how any of them survive to adulthood.
Secondly, it's another of Life's great mysteries how any mother of a male child allows him to survive to adulthood.
Several years ago, I planted a nice row of raspberry bushes on one side of the creek. Now, anyone who has ever cultivated berries knows that it takes a few seasons and a great deal of care to get the bushes to produce a decent amount of fruit. Mine had just gotten to the stage where several cobblers or a mess of jam were possible.
Notice I used the word "had" in that last statement. Sadly, my raspberries are no more. The boys were given the task of clearing the creek bank of brush, weeds and other unsightly flora. Keep in mind, please, these are the same two boys who ate nearly a cobbler's worth of berries one particularly warm day last Summer. These are the same two boys who couldn't wait until the berries came on this Summer, so they could have some more of those juicy red dandies.
And, they are the same two boys who proudly showed their Daddy and me at the end of the day just how well they had completed their task. Why, even those old prickly "thorn bushes" had been removed by their roots, so as not to catch anyone else's clothes, hair or fingers ever again.
When asked about the now-demised berry bushes, the horrified looks on their faces were only outdone, I'm sure, by the look on mine.
While the raspberry bushes' untimely end could be explained away by an over-zealous attention to task, nothing could explain the crawdad that somehow ended up in the fish tank in the living room, very conspicuous among the angel fish and tiger barbs. And don't even ask about the outcome when the same two geniuses, I mean gentlemen, decided to play chicken on their bicycles. Is there really a winner when both participants are nearly knocked unconscious? Try explaining that one to the emergency room doctor, please.
So, given the circumstances, I've been forced to come to the conclusion that while life in Frogpond may be slower and simpler than, say, life in New York City, it is anything but SIMPLE. In fact, I'm fairly certain that the only truly simple thing around here are the inhabitants.
If you can't laugh, why live?