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Another Day in the Country

Illustrated gossip

© Another Day in the Country

Maybe you are lucky enough to have your children and grandchildren close enough that you see them often. I’m not! Mine live half a continent away.

My daughter is very faithful to call, to check in, to keep in touch. I’m not as good at that as she is.

There are a host of excuses. When I think of calling them, they are either still sleeping or off to work. So I text.

It’s not intrusive, I tell myself. At least they know what I’m doing. I comfort myself, but this isn’t really communicating.

Once in a while, I write letters, but most of the mail these days consists of either bills or junk.

Would she even see the letter? How long would it take before it was opened, let alone how long it would take to get there. Old news.

I do write to my grandson, however. He often picks up the mail from the mailbox by the road. He’ll be the first to see that a letter is addressed to him. I want him to know what letters are and the magical joy of getting one.

It is magical. Have you forgotten? A letter, addressed to you. Is the handwriting familiar? Is there a return address? What’s the occasion? It’s a mystery.

So, there you have it — the excitement of a letter received, mysteriously appearing like magic. Letters are about to become extinct — an endangered species of communication. So, I write to the next generation. I send him all kinds of stuff through the mail: books, clippings, gifts, money, stories, even my column once in a while, and also drawings. The illustrations keep him reading.

This week, I sent a letter complete with an illustration. The letter part came from my computer because, you may remember, the poor boy can’t read cursive. The envelope also contained a drawing, and here’s the story.

I was sitting on my front porch, having breakfast and going over some Spanish words that I was going to make flash cards for so I could review them easily.

You may remember that I am doing a class online — it’s called Duolingo — where you can learn another language. I chose Spanish because my grandson is taking Spanish in high school. It would be another thing to have in common with him, giving us something to talk about in those letters I’ve been writing.

Nouns and pronouns are one thing in a new language. I got those down pretty quickly, but conjugating verbs is quite another thing. I’m not sure that even flash cards will do the trick. 

So, I’m drinking my coffee, going over verbs, when I see my neighbors out and about. They are bringing things like an ice chest outside and taking things out of a truck back into the house.

They have made quite a few trips — so many that I got amused and thought to myself, I’ve got to tell Dagfinnr about this. I think they are going fishing. 

Dagfinnr sat on the porch with me this summer and watched them getting ready to go fishing.

I’m going to write to him and tell him they are going fishing again. It’s news from Ramona.

Then, I decided to draw a picture of what was happening so I flipped over the paper of Spanish verbs and started drawing an outline of the house across the street.

This is what happens when a person of a certain age has way too much time on her hands.

I drew the house, the yard, the chickens, the ducks, and their dog peering over the fence, barking. I had to get a new piece of card stock so that I could draw my neighbors and their truck.

This little project was starting to take on a life of its own. This was fun. It was a way to enliven the day — a silly project — for this artist who was just going to write her grandson a letter and was looking for subject matter.

Then, I got out the watercolor paints. This whole thing needed some color. I cut out the truck and added a door that opened so you could see the interior. I made little drawings of things that were carried from the house and to the truck: bags, boxes, fishing poles, and an ice chest. I even made a pocket behind the truck that all those things fit into.

This was becoming quite the project. An hour went by quickly as my neighbors materialized on paper, got tucked into an oversized envelope, and sent on their way to California, along with a letter.

I took a picture of the little setup before I mailed it and sent it with a text to Dagfinnr.

“This is coming to you in the mail,” I said, “Watch for it!”

“Great,” he texted back, “It’s illustrated gossip.”

When my Aunt Naomi had time on her hands or felt lonely in her later years, she used to get in her car and drive around Ramona, just to see what might be going on.

Surely, somewhere in town, something interesting was happening, and she didn’t want to miss it.

And, here I am, many years later, looking for something interesting to write about, on another day in the country.

Last modified Oct. 5, 2022

 

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