Daily Journey Journal #246: fences

From January 28, 2015

Piece by piece, my grandfather used to say. That’s the way to patch a hole, fill the gaps.

His thick fingers moved deftly, twisting together frayed wires, tacking in pieces of wood. Bit by bit, we moved down the miles of fences.

With the hot sun overhead and the dust blowing off the dirt road, all I could wonder is that he spent so much time talking about those damn fences. I didn’t see the point. At seven I’d made it clear that there was no way I was going to be a rancher and live my life by fences and cattle, dirt roads and manual labor. I didn’t want to have to worry about the state of the fences or put so much importance on the way to fix them.

All those summers and I never realized that those lessons weren’t about the fences.

They were about life.

Each post a person. Each wire, each slat of wood the events and ties that hold us together.

In these last years, whenever I stopped in to visit, he talked about the fences and I realized that one by one my posts were falling to the ground, uprooted from the earth. The wires binding them stretched and snapped. He was telling me what I didn’t want to see. The snow and wind had taken their toll. I let them batter my fence and tear it down. He was telling me this in the kindest way possible: by talking about those fences we’d repaired when I was a child.

You were my last standing post, Grandpa, and the wire between us was so strong, so steady until the end. So many of us here were lucky to be your posts. So many of us are at a loss of how to keep going without your constant wisdom, your gentle kindness, but Grandpa, I know what to do. You said it yourself.

It’s time to repair the fence.

30 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 3: Secret Plans

Alice was good at many things, but keeping secrets wasn’t one of them, particularly if they were her own. Honesty being one of her numerous virtues, concocting stories didn’t come naturally and that is how she came to ruin nearly every surprise anything she had ever planned.

But, not this year, she vowed. This year would be different. This year she would surprise her husband, Bren, for real and he wouldn’t have to pretend. This would be the year to beat all others.

And so, Alice set about her plans for his birthday, making reservations, scheming and concocting a plan that even she couldn’t destroy with her need to tell the truth.

A month before his birthday, Ben asked ever so slyly, “So, what’s my birthday present?” He’d done this every year, teasing and knowing she would be so excited she’d blurt it right out.

“Not telling!”

“Come on,” he said. “Just a tiny hint?”

“Nope.”

“Is it a car?”

Alice laughed. “It’s better than a car. It’s an elephant!”

Bren just shook his head. “You are such a bad liar.”

A week later he asked again.

“Is it a new bike?”

Alice shook her head. “It’s for eating, not riding. Though, bikes may be involved.”

“What is it?”

Alice smiled. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Bren couldn’t help but let the excitement build. She was being clever, he thought. But just exactly what she was planning, he couldn’t decide.

Two days from his birthday, he pried again.

“Is it big? Is it small?”

“It can fit in an envelope,” Alice said.

“Then it isn’t an elephant,” Bren said.

“Wait and find out.”

The evening of Bren’s birthday, Alice took him to his favorite restaurant, a Thai place downtown. Outside the restaurant was a huge stone elephant. Bren smiled, pleased at having been so simply duped. Alice was nearly giddy with having kept her secret so well. They sat down at a corner table and ordered their favorite curry dishes.

As Bren sat back happily, having stuffed himself as full as he could, he sighed, “Some day babe, we’re going to go to Thailand. And, we’re going to eat so much curry we’ll never want to eat it again. And we’ll see elephants and climb mountains. Some day.”

“I know,” said Alice, digging in her purse.

She handed Bren the envelope. “Your birthday gift.”

“You weren’t kidding,” he said, fully expecting a gift certificate to the restaurant.

What he pulled out instead were five neatly folded pieces of paper. He smoothed them out on the table.

 

Itinerary for Chiang Mai, Thailand

December 20-30, 2015