Sunday, October 6, 2013

I Know What You Did 12 Years Ago

On my scheduled day off Wednesday, I ran by my mom's house to take her my used tabloids. It's my way of saving the environment. No Russell Dalrymple and Greenpeace antics for me. I read them, pass them to Mom, who gives them to her neighbor across the way, who gives them to an old lady down the road, who gives them to an elderly friend, who donates them to the local ministerial alliance, and so on. I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin Bacon ended up with them.

After our brief visit, I stepped out on the porch to walk through Mom's mole-tunneled yard to T-Hoe. Mom really needs to get some of those spinning metal sunflower thingies before I pull up lame. Of course I could have walked down the concrete porch to the steps by the garage, but my knees would rather do battle with molehills all the live-long day than descend a mountain.

Looking up from my sinking feet at the edge of the driveway, I glanced across the road. There's a house that was vacant for quite some time, and an older couple moved in several months back. Their first contact with Mom was to ask if their relatives could park along the edge of her side of the road for a family reunion. Mom agreed. Not knowing that the entire population of Rhode Island was showing up. She has had little to no contact with them since. People are private like that around here.

On the porch of that house sat a white-haired man. He was well over 75 yards away, but to me he looked like that man you might have seen on the internet who got in trouble for slapping a baby on a plane. It was SO creepy. He was simply sitting there. Watching. No wave. No, "Howdy, neighbor." Silently watching. From an Adirondack chair. Or maybe a woven-strip lawn chair. My brain was focused on his face. I climbed into T-Hoe. Then whispered to Mom, who had followed to the porch, but not the mole-swiss-cheesed yard. "Hey. There's a man staring at us."

"Oh, I know. He does that all the time. It's gotten to the point that I won't come out to work in my yard if I see him over there. And when I come out, and he comes out later, I go back in. I figure I can trim my tree or water my flowers later, when he's not there. It kind of bothers me."

I know what she means. I went about my merry dead-mouse-smelling-post-office way, and waved from the road. I used to toot my horn for her, but that didn't feel right with The Observer.

Last night, I called Mom to tell her of Genius's visit with his college buddies. After soaking in all things Genius, Mom asked, "When you left my house the other day, was there anything on the porch?"

"No. I didn't see anything. This is not like that time you came home a couple years ago and found a cinnamon roll wrapped in foil with one bite gone, and thought that your friend left it and a dog got into it, is it? Because I told you then that a dog wouldn't take one bite and wrap it back up, and something fishy was going on."

"No. But I looked out a couple hours after you left, and there were three bags sitting there on the edge of the porch, right across from the door."

"You mean under your seasons flag? You really need to change that. It's fall, you know. What's on there now?"

"That's where it was. I have a "Celebration" flag up. For the 4th of July. It's not a flag, but it has red stripes and stars. The bags were full of hedgeapples. I don't know who put them there. It might have been that man down the road. You know, where Lang and Shirl used to live? He brought me some one time. They keep bugs out of the basement. I took one bag and scattered them out in the basement that evening, and I was down there today, and didn't see one bug. But I don't need THREE bags. Just the one. I don't know what to do with the other two. And I'd kind of like to find out who brought them. I know it wasn't my friend. She always calls after she gets home, and tells me to look on the porch. And if it was my neighbors, they would have called, too. So I guess it must have been that man from down the road, but he didn't give me any last year. So it seems conly funny."

"Mom. When was the last time that guy gave you hedgeapples?"

"Well, it wasn't very long after your dad died. So I guess it was...about 12 years ago."

"MOM! Nobody is going to give you hedgeapples for your basement one year, and then bring them again 12 years later, without once talking to you! Something is weird here."

"I really wish I knew who left them. Maybe they meant to leave them somewhere else, and stopped at the wrong house. And I've already used one bag!"

"This is creeping me out. Remember that girl I used to teach with, whose husband was in college at Rolla? They had an apartment, and the guy next door kept taking their morning paper. She said something to him about it, and the next morning her paper was on her doormat. With a dead bird looking over it at her, its wings outstretched. This is LIKE THAT!"

"Ooh! That's terrible. But I'm sure there's an explanation."

"What if it was The Observer, Mom? Maybe he saw me leave, then ran over here with some hedgeapples?"

"Oh, I don't think he would do that. They stay to themselves. When his wife is working in the yard, and I go out, SHE GOES INSIDE!"

"You mean like you do when HE comes out?"

"Well...hahaha...yes. But that's different."

"I don't know, Mom. This porch stuff is weird. But thank goodness you've given me something to look forward to after sewing up that hole in the knee of your pants. I'll talk to you tomorrow to see what you find out."

"Oh, I can't wait to get to church and ask about the dog nose in the hole in Noah's Ark."

"Yeah. Because you'll have to tell the whole story about why you're asking."

"I can't help it. I laugh every time I think about Juno putting his nose in your mouth."

That's my mom. Still can't remember that Juno is a girl. I can't wait to hear about her adventures when I call her tonight. We need to take our show on the road.


  1. Now I have to go Google Hedgeapple.

  2. Like Joe, I've never heard of hedgeapples.

  3. Val--When you do your book signings, the bonus "attraction" could be your mom...

    (I'm still waiting for my invitation to your book signing...and I can't wait forever...)

  4. I've seen hedgeapples before but didn't know what they were called or that they were an insect repellant. Always learning something here.

  5. I just blew fifteen minutes learning about Maclura pomifera. Time well spent because I now know the difference between horse apples and road apples--very important. As for the spooky guy on the porch I'd say your mom is most likely the parent who shared the weird magnet genes with you. Yes, and I agree you need to bring Mom along on your book signings.

  6. I had hedeapples in my yard and had no idea what they were.... and now I have a reason to snatch them up... maybe bag them and leave them on someone's porch! Ha.

  7. joeh,
    Say, "Hey!" to my BFF Google!

    It must be a regional thing. Or we just call them by our Backroads names.

    Oh, she would LOVE that! She never met a stranger. Be careful, she might try to give away a puppy after starving it for two days. As puppies are available after being dumped in her yard. DISCLAIMER: Not everybody will get a puppy.

    Patience is a virtue, Madam. Two words you don't often see side by side. Virtue. Madam.

    I am a teacher at heart. I strive to provide vital knowledge for people with basements and/or bugs. It's a natural pesticide blog, mainly. This Mom/Genius/Juno/writing/complainy stuff is an anomaly.

    Thank goodness you won't be putting road apples in your basement! Indeed, this weirdo-magnet apple didn't fall far from the tree. I'll tell Mom to take those stitches out of the knee of her going-to-town pants.

    You got me! I was sure you were going to put them in your basement. Fished in! Excellent!