Posts Tagged ‘Women’

My New Friend

July 29, 2013

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My drier has developed an awful squeak. It’s happened before, and my husband can fix it, but it’s not a high priority on his list of repairs, so I hang my clothes outside. I’ve threatened to get my own tool box.

My clothespin bag hangs on a hook on the back porch. It’s convenient to the washer and to the steps leading out to the yard and the clothesline. Two weeks ago, I grabbed the clothespin bag and threw it into the basket of wet laundry. I noticed a small clump of dried mud as it fell from the inside of the bag onto my clean blouse. A mud dauber’s nest.

I threw my now dirty blouse back into the washer and stomped out the door to the clothesline, throwing the infamous clump of mud into the yard.

After hanging the rest of my clean clothes, I returned to the porch, hung my clothespin bag back on its hook and turned to work on the rest of the laundry. That’s when I noticed her, the mud dauber, a thin, black and yellow wasp-like insect. She flew back and forth across the front of the clothespin bag. She didn’t land on it, just passed in front of it over and over again. Oh no, I thought. She’s searching for her nest.

My conscience got the better of me. I hurried back out to the yard in search of the clump of dried mud I’d thrown. It took me the better part of fifteen minutes to find it. I picked it up and examined it for cracks. It was intact, including a small round hole near the bottom. I hoped no eggs had rolled out when my anger got the better of me.

I marched myself back to the clothespin bag where I examined the damage I’d caused. The nest had been attached fairly high up in the bag. I wondered what might happen if I propped the nest close to where it had been. Maybe the mud dauber would come back to it and repair my insult, re-attach her creation. Of course, I’d used some of the clothes pins for the wash, so I needed to build up the mound in order to put “operation rebuild” back into place. Meanwhile, Ms. Mud Dauber kept her vigil of hovering, turning every once in a while to look at me, accusingly.

“I need to find some more clothespins,” I explained. “Don’t worry, I think I have some in the attic.”

I ran to the stash and opened the new bag. Piling the pins as close to the original placement of the nest as I could, I gingerly placed the bottom of the mud nest into the clothespins and propped its top against the back fabric of the bag.

I turned to Ms. Dauber. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “I promise not to bother it again, if you’ll see to the repair and rebuilding.”

She landed on the opening to the bag and surveyed the damage. I could imagine her shaking her tiny head as I went back into the house, closing the backdoor behind me.

I check on Muddy often now. We’re on a first name basis. My family members smirk as they ask me how my new friend is doing. I frown at them. They don’t understand my connection with Muddy.

The two of us meet on the back porch at least once a day. She works hard daubing new little round patches on the covering of her legacy, and she listens as I tell her my frustrations about my own nest building. She thinks it’s a good idea for me to get my own set of tools. Women are capable.

I wave as Muddy slips through the crack around the storm door frame, heading to the yard for more mud, or to capture a spider to feed her babies. “That door needs fixing,” I say, as I watch Muddy’s slim body hover for a second in the sunshine.

“Really?” she asks, then she flies off on her errand.

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One Tiny Woman

April 10, 2011

It’s Spring now, but with temperatures dipping into the thirties and forties at night, it’s still cold enough to use the wood burning boiler furnace. The stove sits in the backyard, looking like a small shed. Once a day Bruce fills it with large pieces of oak and locust. The wood is stacked on a trailer pulled up close to make hefting easier. Not having to sweat splitting the lengths into smaller pieces makes them heavier to lift.

The Wren sits on the edge of the blue tarp covering the trailer. She stands her ground even as Bruce walks within two feet of her on the way to the furnace. She bobs up and down on stick legs, chirping her disdain at him. He ignores her and uncovers the day’s allotment of fuel.

Now she’s in distress, flitting from the trailer to the clothesline, to the garden fence post, all the time rattling off a litany of curses at my husband. He’s oblivious, and hard of hearing it seems.

I open the kitchen window and call out. “Can’t you hear her?”

“Hear who?” he questions, looking around for a neighbor or visitor.

“The Wren,” I exclaim, pointing at the little brown bird, having a conniption in the Lilac bush now.

“Where?” Bruce asks.

“Right behind you. She’s been trying to get your attention since you left the house and started that way.”

“I didn’t see her,” he says.

“Well, look around. I’ll bet she has her nest somewhere close.”

Bruce turns around to the bird and says, “Alright, alright, stop fussing. Give me a minute. I’ll see what your problem is.”

He closes the door of the stove having not put one stick in it. He walks over to the far corner of the garden and stands watching until the Wren flits back to the woodpile and ducks under the blue tarp.

I pull the window down and watch Bruce as he leaves the backyard only to return a few minutes later with a wheelbarrow full of wood. He makes a wide berth around the trailer and parks the wood by the stove. He makes three trips to fill it.

I walk out the door to feed the chickens, and Bruce turns to me shaking his head.

“That whole trailer full of wood,” he says, “and I can’t use a stick of it. Women, they sure do make life difficult.”

I can’t help but giggle.