Another Day in the Country
© Another Day in the Country
Yes, I let you down. I’m sorry. I goofed up. You probably noticed because I wasn’t here in my usual spot last week talking about another day in the country as I’d promised. I’ll try not to do it again.
That said, you may want to know why because, obviously, you’re a regular reader of this newspaper — and aren’t we lucky to still have one? — but that’s getting off subject. It’s easy to do — change the subject, bring up some other topic — when you are apologizing to someone.
Often, people want to know, Why? Why did you do this? or How could you let us down so profoundly? What the heck? What were you thinking, sending us a column we’d already used? That’s what happened.
There were reasons it happened, of course. It’s a long string of happenings that you easily could call excuses and maybe you don’t want to hear them, but here goes.
The simplest reason is, I made a mistake. Over the years, I’ve established a routine on my computer. This is rather an amazing thing for me to do — out of character because I’m not a person who likes doing the same thing over and over. I get bored. I’ve always been like this, since my earliest memory, so I doubt that’s going to change at this late state.
However, there are some routines in life that are absolutely vital — like brushing your teeth. I’ve written this column for 20 plus years and, by necessity, there has been established a routine, which is that sometime within the week, I write something on a particular subject, which has something to do about life — life in general, which I assume is similar to your life — living in a rural environment. That’s my bargain — my agreement.
That column then sets on my desktop computer and in the back of my mind. Sometimes, it sets there for weeks. Sometimes it remains for days, hours. Every once in a while it’s only there a few minutes — in its particular spot on the left side of my computer screen, exposed, out there in the open as a little white document under a file marked, “2022 Another Day…”
It’s there until I send it in to my editor — at which time I move it (now this is a crucial movement) up BESIDE the file marked “2022…” and not into it. Being beside the file means it’s been sent. Being under means it’s waiting to be sent — an important differentiation. It only goes into the file after I’ve transferred it into a Shutterfly book I compile every year of the columns I’ve written. Then, it’s stored out of sight.
So we come to the week that was. I’m about to fly to California — in fact, I’m already checked into my flight out of Wichita on Southwest Airlines — and I had to admit to myself, You’re not feeling well. You might be getting sick. (I hate admitting that to myself but eventually you have to be honest.) I still had some things to do — like pack my suitcase — but I stopped and did all the natural remedies that I knew how to do and went to bed on Friday night — hoping I’d be better in the morning. I did text my daughter, “Be warned — I’m not feeling well tonight,” with the implication that there might be a change in plans.
Sure enough, I had no business traveling, exposing people to whatever I was coming down with, so early on Saturday morning, I canceled the flight and went back to bed. I felt awful. My throat was scratchy. You know the symptoms. What was I coming down with? Did I have COVID for Pete’s sake, after all this time trying to be careful? How disappointing! Now, of all times. I spent a lousy day in bed, trying to drink lots of fluids, taking antihistamine, and using a whole box of Kleenex.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, it hit me. Pat, you haven’t sent in your column this week.
So, I climbed out of bed — feeling my way through the dark house, stumbling over the cat who wanted attention — to the computer in my office. I remember thinking, as I sat down at the desk, “Thank goodness I have a column in the bank.” That’s what I call it when there’s an extra document just setting there, waiting to be sent.
Blink, blink — tappity, tap, tap, little whooshing sound, and I sent the column out into the air toward the editor’s desk at the Marion County Record, and went back to bed.
Throughout that day and the next, I did everything possible to allow my body to heal. My sister switched into caretaker mode — even brought me breakfast in bed, on a lovely tray complete with a little bouquet of spring daffodils that were blooming away in her yard. I took hot baths, took meds, drank loads of liquids, kept warm, ate very little.
My daughter called and said, “Do you have a COVID test kit? (I did.) You should take it, just so you know what you’re dealing with.”
I obeyed, even though I had no fever and didn’t have COVID, just a miserable cold, bronchitis.
On Tuesday morning, feeling better, I was in Abilene, exercising, slowly, with a mask on, when my sister’s phone rang. It was for me. I’d sent in a column that had been submitted already several weeks ago. I goofed, and it was too late to meet press deadline on yet another day in the country.