Monday, March 8, 2010

Winter Visiting

The temperature has been above freezing for about a week, and although there's still snow on the ground, everyone is acting like it's spring. You would think it was planting time. Steve is getting calls about landscaping jobs he bid last fall, and today at Home Depot they were rolling out the rider mowers. We know it is still winter. We know that there will be more snow.

Last night we had the neighbors, Rita and Maurice Palmersheim, over for dessert. Last winter we went to their house, and I can't believe it's been a whole year, though we see them from time to time and stop to chat. Winter is the time for visiting, however, for soup dinners, and so it was time. Last year they entertained us with a wonderful concert on their concertinas, and Maurice (pronounced Morris) played accordion for us as well. They are in their mid-80s. Last week Steve said he had an epiphany, that everyone was going to die. "Everyone, I mean even Maurice and Rita, are going to die," he said. Living where we do, with all the longevity around us, it is sometimes easy to forget this fact.

Rita had a hysterectomy a month ago. She said she is a little tired, but not really sleeping more. She sometimes puts her head down on her hands at hte table after lunch to rest, but, she said, soon there is a knock at the door and a visitor comes by. Maurice is up at 5 a.m. and into his coveralls all winter long, in his shop with a wood stove burning, fixing lawn mowers and cars and other things. He'll be fixing Steve's 3-wheeler next week when his load lightens up a little.

On this Sunday, less than a month after her surgery, Rita and Maurice got up and went to 8 a.m. Mass. Then they went to the church breakfast, and then to the grocery store in East St. Cloud. In the early afternoon they went to visit Rita's brother. When they came home, an old friend unexpectedly dropped by and brought his concertina, so they played together. He didn't leave until 6, when they had dinner, and then they came to our house at 7 p.m. They drink strong, black coffee even at night. We had coffee and apple crisp and they told us a bit about their childhoods. Rita was her father's favorite, the second daughter. She worked with him on the farm until her brothers were old enough, running the 2-wheeled cultivator drawn by horses, the tractor, and feeding the hogs and milking the cow. Maurice's father lost his job during the Depression, but was offered a position with the same company for nine months in Cincinnati. He went there and sent money home to the family, and when he came back they were able to move to a small farm.

Rita is, needless to say, healing well. She said Dr. Newton was very pleased at her last check-up. And as for her, she is amazed by the scar. "It is so straight, I told Dr. Newton, I never could draw a line that straight with a pencil." To say they are upbeat and positive people is an understatement.

What I really need to do is capture them on video. I will take my Flip camera over and have them play the concertina some evening-- before next year to be sure. They said they'd like to do that, but they want to invite their friend who they played with that afternoon. He knows songs they hadn't heard for years, and it would be good to get him on the film as well.

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