Of Rogues and Gypsies

My wife opted to sleep in cooler temperatures, so she spent the night at her sister’s house. I stayed at home, AKA the oven, which was reasonably comfortable after 11 PM and with the fan on high-speed, aimed at my face and bare upper body, not constricted by sheets. When I awoke around 5 this morning, I was reasonably comfortable except for a chigger bite at the belt line. Apparently, the beast latched on to me during our travels yesterday, probably while we were visiting estate sales, and crawled north where it spent the evening dining on my flesh. If this chigger bite is like the others I’ve had since moving to Arkansas, it will leave a permanent scar (after weeks of painful itching). The oils sold by local pharmaceutical compounders may have an effect, but it’s not enough to eliminate the itching.

The sky outside is an odd pinkish-blue, casting a strange tint on the neighbor’s driveway. The appearance is a little like a poorly done science fiction film. That’s the best I can do to describe the light and its impact on the world outside my window. The open windows allow the sounds of birds to flood the house. Normally, I enjoy bird songs, but there’s one bird call this morning that calls for silence by shotgun. There, it’s gone. I just knew the little bastards were reading my computer screen; they peer in the screen door behind me and read every word. When I write about eliminating their noise-making by resorting to buckshot, they fly away like airborne cowards. Then again, if I read over someone’s shoulder that the writer wished to stop me from annoying them by using a shotgun, I’d probably flee, too. That’s not cowardice, that’s self-preservation. Smart birds. Annoying birds, but smart enough to get out of Dodge. Ach! Now it’s the damn crows I hear. Laughing at me! Give me a shotgun and a box of shells!

I showered immediately after I awoke this morning, a rarity for me. Normally, I get up and putter around the house for a few hours, but the chigger bite and the sensation of stickiness that arises when the air conditioner is on the fritz compelled me to stand under a shower head. I used to shower immediately on arising, but that was back in the day when I’d get up to go to work. The habit of taking an early morning shower has its positive attributes. I feel much better after showering. It stands to reason I’d feel better, longer, if I showered earlier. Why have I abandoned the habit? I suppose it’s because I don’t want to wake my wife with the noise in the bathroom. I bet she wouldn’t even notice, though. This morning, since she wasn’t here to hear, it wasn’t an issue.  Hmm. I may return to that age-old habit.

Yesterday, during our time away from the sweltering house, we went out seeking herbs and flowering plants and other such greenery. Today is the day to plant them. My wife bought herbs, I bought flowering plants and a single tomato plant. My hope is that the tomato will grown into a monstrous tomato generator. I should have bought more than one plant; maybe I’ll go out today to get another. I envision becoming a tomato rancher, tending to an enormous tomato orchard, plucking vine ripened tomatoes at the precise moment that the fruit achieves perfection. Because my tomato plants will be tall and extraordinarily productive, I will need to ride a horse outfitted with enormous saddle-bags. The height of the horse will allow me to reach up into the highest branches of the tomato trees (you’ll notice the plants became vines and the vines became trees) to pluck the fruit. Once the saddle bags are full, I’ll ride back indoors and will empty the tomatoes on the counter. I’ll select some for slicing, some for canning, some for making tomato sauce, and some for pickling. That’s right, I’ll pickle some tomatoes. That reminds me, I should buy okra seeds, because pickled okra is among the most delightful foods anyone has ever eaten. The okra I don’t pickle will either be used in okra and tomatoes (another dish delivered to humankind by the gods of gastronomy) or fried. Fried okra, though bad for the heart, is good for the soul. My soul needs a little cleansing or whatever it is that fried okra does for it. And what’s an okra and tomato orchard without a field of cilantro, I ask? I suppose I should allow my wife to grow the cilantro in her herb garden. So, instead of cilantro, I’ll plant cucumbers and squash and eggplant. That’s it! An okra, tomato, cucumber, squash, and eggplant orchard. The problems with this scenario, and there are many, is that the deck is not large enough and, even if it were, I don’t think it would withstand the weight of the soil needed for may enormous orchard and the horse I would ride while picking the fruit. If I tried to till the mountainside beneath and behind my house, I would need to first blast the rock into dust, then add enormous volumes of organic matter. I am relatively sure the property owners association would object. Plus, I do not know where I would get the money for the undertaking. That’s the problem with moving to a rocky mountainside. Large-scale fruit and vegetable production is damn near impossible in such an environment. I suppose I could, instead, visit the farmers’ market on a regular basis, spending my money on food instead of the means by which to produce it.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll no doubt have realized that I have essentially nothing to say this morning. So, instead of communicating, I’m simply stringing words together in a way that forms sentences but does not necessarily make any sense. The term for this is gibberish. According to a British dictionary I found online, the word originated in the 1550s as a means of describing incomprehensible chatter. The same dictionary suggests the word was used in the early seventeenth century to describe the language of rogues and gypsies. I cannot confirm what any of the suggestions about the word’s origins have a root in fact, inasmuch as I was not present in the 1550s or the early seventeenth century. If I could travel to that time, though, I would. I would want to be able to return to this time or a few days later, when we learn of the existence of functioning air conditioning in this house.

Next on the agenda: a decision on whether to go to church this morning. On the pro side, the building has air conditioning and there will be pre-service treats. On the con side, I will have to dress in clothes I find more than mildly constricting. And, going to church would delay the planting of my tomato ranch and my dazzlingly colorful flower garden.  I suppose I’ll have to wait for my wife’s return to learn of my decision.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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