It is late, the child that is being babysat is sleeping soundly and the two teenagers (the respective aunt and uncle of the sleeping infant) are watching movies, a typical Friday night except they are actually WATCHING the movie.
On the old 26″ tube TV. there are two young men, leaving a pub and gingerly hot footing it across the fields, howling is heard as the werewolf (they do not know it is a werewolf yet) grows nearer and they rethink their life choices, deciding to head back for the pub. One bends down and the other is bowled over by a monster, the visuals and sounds of his being torn apart sends the friend running away in terror before he stops, wonders what he is doing and deciding to be a loyal (if foolish) pal, returns to help his friend only to become the entrée himself.
But wait…the hero (?) lives…friend is already dead and the rest of the movie presses on with gore, horror and screams aplenty.
When the movie finishes (An American Werewolf in London 1981 for anyone who does not recognize that infamous scene) and the teens retire to the dining room to play cards.
With each hand of gin rummy the story telling of spooky experiences gets richer, movies, nightmares and ghost stories go on for hours..and then mom arrives home. Of course mom is blithely unaware of the nights activities informs everyone that despite the fact that it is still dark out we are going to go out and pick up freshly cut grass off the side of the road (give the horses in the yard a treat rather than waiting for it to be bailed).
Situation changes as the baby is bundled sleepily into the cab of the half ton, mom is driving, Max and I get to ride in the back (oh the good old days right?).
It is a truly beautiful night, no lights around, no cars, just the stars in the black sky, a gloriously scented breeze, sounds of the frogs and us. The only blemishes on the divine predawn adventure is the Manitoban mosquito and the city slicker moaning.
Of course, Max being a city boy, begins to complain about the bending, the picking up, the carrying, the lifting to place into the back of the half ton and the mosquitoes.
Actually thinking on it, with the cool air, fresh pre-morning dew, there were not that many of the mini vampires about, but if you’re not use to Manitoba mosquitoes, they can seem like hordes. In fact when they do come out in force, you have to stay inside and animals need smudges to withstand the onslaught.
Complaining about the logic of the pioneers for settling in swampland does seem a bit redundant but I have often wondered this myself.
So on the scale of slap happiness (slapping yourself to kill the blood suckers) it was only about a 2.
You can see for miles on the prairie, but in the dark it is a long moonlit view of shadows, tapestries of black melding to blue and you can actually hear the silence of nature. The smell of the cut grass, feel of your clothes getting wetter with each bundle gathered and the occasional amused comment. At this point, Max is too busy panting to keep up his barrage of dissatisfaction with the environment and activities.
So we all got the chance to appreciate the beauty of the night, surroundings and enjoy the quiet companionship of shared labour.
Of course, par for the course in my life, something stupid has to happen, but we don’t mind really because it gifted us with this enduring memory.
I bend down to gather another armful of grass, and my foot tips into a gopher hole, I lose my balance and as I tumble downwards into the ditch (not a shallow one either)..I do the totally unthinkable, ever regrettable and oh so embarrassing.
Oh yes, the shame, the total abject self-disgust of a farm girl doing something do darn feminine.
As my fall halts, I land atop a jaw bone (just the white bone) of some poor animal and let out another squeak, scrambling away from said disgusting artefact. I stand up and of course the first thing I see is my mother, doubled over killing herself laughing but it was not directed at me. I am confused as she is pointing down the highway so I turn to see what is so much more funny than my toppling into the ditch (or screaming).
The sight that greeted me, was one I shall never forget because it was so unexpected that it took me a moment to actually understand what I was seeing.
Max, illuminated by moonlight, running full tilt, down the centre of the highway, away from us.
My embarrassment vanishes as I join my mother in laughing. Together we watch Max eventually stop his headlong dash from terror, and begin his saunter of shame back to the truck. Returning to face the two women laughing so hard that tears are streaming down our faces. As he reaches us, his only comment before resuming picking up grass was: “I am never going to live that down am I?”
Too true Max, oh too true.
However, he was upstaged in the most unexpected way, much to his relief. As we all clambered into the truck, the youngest among us decided to try to say “Truck”. His first attempt was greeted with silence, then laughter.
It is to be noted that he was discouraged from saying “Truck” or “Frog” for quite a while, but kids being kids, he did practice to get it right a lot.
Thus Max’s humorous sprint to freedom, was eclipsed with words out of the mouths of a babe, but as is proof by this post, he never did live it down.