Saturday Afternoon at Shady Acres

The wind was blowing straight out on Saturday.

I wrestled the sheets and towels as I doubled pinned them into place.  A chance gust of wind snapped the double pins and a fitted sheet flew wild against my frantic fingers.  I laughed at the sheer joy of the unpredictable energy, and grabbed it before it trailed into the damp lawn.  A thin, long strand of white hair stood soft against the red sheet.  It stopped my laughter mid-chuckle as I looked at it curiously.  Where would such a strand of hair –?   Oh.  Never mind.  I realized with a sudden pang that it had to be mine.  There was no one else’s for it to be.  It was so, well, silver.  

I went back to struggling with the sheets.  Find the middle, pin it tight, find the other side’s middle, tuck the elasticized end of one sheet into the other.   And then I suddenly had to smile again.  Several years ago, a favorite writer of mine was writing about laundry and the proper way to do hang it on the line.  Dorcas Smucker, raised Amish and certainly knowing a whole lot more about the right way to do things, happened to mention that the right way to hang sheets on the line was to hang them longways.  (At least that was what I understood her to say.)  So, for months and months, whenever I was hanging sheets on the line, I hung them long ways.  It didn’t matter that it wasn’t the way I folded them once they were dry.  It didn’t matter that it took up a whole lot more wash line space and clothes pins.  No, no.  If Dorcas Smucker said it was better to hang them long ways, for crying out loud, I was going to do it that way.  But then, after being inconvenienced and never really discovering why it was better that way, I got really, really tired of it.  So I went back to folding them in half and hanging them up the way I was used to.  And the way that made it easiest for me.  

On this day, there would have been no use in hanging them any special way, they were going to come loose!

Our Girl Nettie was antsy to be out.  She had cleaned her room and got antsy to be outside with Torreanna and me, so she decided to clean the birdbath– which she pretty much does every day, anyhow!

Certain Man was busy fixing his fence:

This fence is dear to Mr. Yutzy’s heart.  When we moved here almost 24 years ago, the neighbor next to us was wary of us, and from the very beginning, Daniel sought to make peace.  The fence between the properties was barbed wire, and in poor repair.  However, it was a reference point for this neighbor, because he would sit beside it at the road end while chickens were going out and woe betide any trespasser upon his property. There was more than one occasion when he would call the police on the catching crew.  The very first time chickens went out after we owned the farm, his wife called and asked to speak to Mr. Yutzy.

“I’m sorry, he isn’t in right now,” I told her.  “May I ask who is calling?”  (We hadn’t met this neighbor yet)

“This is Mrs. —,” she said in a most assertive voice.  “We live  at the corner.”

“Is there a problem?”  I asked, with my heart sinking.  I knew there probably was.  A chicken truck had backed into their fence.  Daniel had told me about it earlier in the morning, but I hadn’t personally assessed the damages.  

“Yes, there is.  When they were catching chickens this morning, someone damaged our fence!”

“Mrs. —,” I said as kindly as my quavering heart could muster, “we are so sorry.  Daniel saw that the fence was damaged and he intends to fix it as soon as possible.  He needs to get into town to get some stuff, but he does not intend to have our chicken catchers damage your fence and do nothing about it.  That wouldn’t be for the making of good feelings in the neighborhood.  We would like to be on good terms with our neighbors!”

“Oh,” she said in a very quiet voice.  “Okay, then.”

“Can I have Mr. Yutzy call you?”  I asked.  “He should be in the house shortly.”

“No, that’s alright,” she said pleasantly.  “If you are going to take care of it, that’s all we wanted.”

So, Daniel fixed the barbed wire fence, made an arrangement with the chicken company to catch chickens out of the other end of the chicken house where there was a little more room, and life in the neighborhood took on a less hostile air.  But Certain Man just didn’t like that barbed wire fence.  It was usually in disrepair, it was hard to mow around, and he has Standards of Fencing by which he lives.  This barbed wire fence was so substandard, that it barely rated.  So, as time went on, and he learned to know our neighbor a little better, he began to ask about replacing the fence with a better one.  For a long time, he got nowhere,  “No, Siree! Not a happening thing!  Nope, ain’t a’gonna do it, just not interested.”  

Then Daniel found out that the real reason that Mr. — didn’t want a new fence was that he thought that he would have to pay “halfies” for any fence that went down the property line.  When Daniel reassured him that we would cover the total cost of a new fence, he was finally granted permission to do it.  Sometime.  So the time came when our neighbors went on an extended vacation, and Daniel, with the help of his friend. Allen Beachy, tore out the old fence and put in a new, three wire high tensile fence with proper posts and just as straight as an arrow.  Ir was just a few feet inside our property line so that Mr. — wouldn’t have to even worry about cost, maintenance or anything.  It was finished before Mr. — returned home.  And all was peaceful in the neighborhood.

Then one day, while Daniel was out doing chores he heard hammering.  Upon investigation, he discovered Mr. — making fence on the neighboring side of the property line.  

“Mr. —, what in the world are you doing?”

“I’m making a fence.  I want to run an electric fence down through here so I can run some steers through the woods and along this side.”

“You don’t have to dig in post holes for that,” Daniel told him.  “Just hang those insulators on my fence and run your wire.  I don’t mind at all!”

“You sure?” asked a very contrite Mr. —.

“I’m sure,” Daniel reassured him.  “I don’t mind at all.  It’s a whole lot easier to just run that electric fence along these posts that are already here than it is to dig in new post holes.  Besides, it will be a whole lot easier mowing.”

And so, for a long number of years, that is how it went.  Daniel maintained the fence on the property line, and Mr. — maintained the electric wire that he had run along the inside of it.  I watched my husband cultivate a friendship with this man that was warm and rewarding. Mr.— a war veteran, and Mr. Yutzy, a Mennonite Deacon found lots of common ground in farming, trees, and life in general.  When Mr. — passed away a few years back, we all felt like we had truly lost a valuable friend.

Friday night, around Midnight, just when we were almost asleep, there was a great squealing of tires and a sickening thud.  I said, “Daniel!  There has been a wreck!”

“It sounds serious, too!”  He said, as we both leaped out of bed and scrambled for some day wear.  We clambered down the stairs and out into the cold, dark night.  From the deck, we could see that someone was into the woods just beyond the fence.  Daniel wanted to just get into the van and run down there.  I thought we should call 911.  Finally, I called 911 while he waited to hear what they would say.  They wanted to know if anyone was hurt.  (I don’t know.)  Is it serious?  (It sounded really serious!)  Could someone go down there and check to see if anyone is hurt? (Well, we aren’t sure of how deeply they are in the woods, but my husband is going down there and we can call you back.)  They finally decided to send someone out and Daniel got into the van and started down the road.  When he got up there and shone his headlights into the woods, a young man came out.  

“Is everything alright?”  Daniel asked.  “Is anybody hurt?”

“Yeah, we’re alright.  My girlfriend and I were fighting and she grabbed the wheel and I lost control and ended up in the woods.”

“Where’s your girlfriend?”

“She’s back there in the woods.”

Daniel didn’t argue with him, but he was pretty sure that judging from how there was some pretty sturdy brush up against the passenger door, that the girlfriend was still inside the car.

“We’re alright,” he repeated.  “We are just going to pull the car out.  We are okay.”  Daniel didn’t say anything but he thought that it would be good for the police and the EMT’s to come.  He called me and said that he was going to sit at the end of the lane because the car was so far into the woods that he was sure anyone passing on the road would never see the card.

And he was right.  It wasn’t too long before an emergency squad came barreling down the road, past the place where the car had entered the woods and pulled up to our driveway.  When Daniel told them they had passed it, they were not sure he was telling the truth, but once they headed back and met the young man coming in their direction, they were convinced.  Coming in their direction.  Yes.  I guess he decided that he needed some help after all.  And things really got moving then:

The next morning, I went out to see what I could see, and there was not all that much:

But the problem was that he had taken out Daniel’s fence at the very end, and everything was dangling in great disarray.

So the very next morning, Daniel got busy and repaired that fence as good as new.

And the wind blew straight all day Saturday and most of the day on Sunday.

One of my favorite young families decided to fly kite on Sunday night:

It dipped and soared like a great flying bird, gorgeous against the sunny sky:

And then they reeled it it, from 200 feet up, and brought it safely down.

What a busy, happy weekend!  (except for that car accident business!)

My heart gives grateful praise!


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5 responses to “Saturday Afternoon at Shady Acres

  1. Oh I do love a windy day and hanging out wash as my mother taught me but my dear, let it never be said that anything I wrote guilted someone into doing something that just did not work for them! Blessings on you. This made my day.

  2. Oh Mary Ann what a delightful read. I put your writing right up there with Dorcus Smuckers.

  3. I loved reading this, too. My sister has been hanging out her laundry for 34 years now, and I’m sure she has her own special way. And she does love a windy day!I also enjoyed reading how Certain Man built a friendship with your neighbor. I believe that is as much a witness for Christ as going out with at tract – maybe more so!

  4. I hung my sheets out today, and I hung them the long way. If I would have done another load of sheets, I would have hung them the other way, so I could get them all on my one line. I love to hang clothes out on a nice windy day. It was almost too windy today, because one end came loose and flopped up over the other line, (I have a pulley wash line), and somehow got dirty. I haven’t figured that out yet. It’s nice to have Audrey Girl to clean out your bird bath. I don’t believe I’ve met Torreanna yet. I loved your blog, today. Thanks for writing. Ruth

  5. I love to smell sheets after a windy day on the wash line.

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