I recently fell into conversation with my old pal Sebastian Morningside and as usual we covered a wide range of topics including the Manitoba Uprising of 1961 and Whatever has happened to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Uprising is history of course and as for this city’s beleaguered hockey squad there is nothing wrong with them that a good clout can’t fix. As it happens I know just the girl for the job.
But then our chat took a serious turn when Sebastian raised the question of whatever happened to the first robin of spring, and who was the eagle-eyed citizen who spotted the winged visitor?
In the community where I spent my early years, this was an important occasion which received ample scrutiny in the local press. It was headline material as we say, and local merchants showered that lucky first spotter with gifts. The mayor officiated at an elaborate ceremony staged in the town centre and presented the honoree with a lovely dress, but only if that person was of the female type. The mayor was adamant on that point and there was no arguing with him about it.
A minor to-do flared up not long ago when a neighbor of ours named Beth Waller won the coveted trophy five years in a row and although her feat was generally applauded by the community at large it did not sit well with my mother. She was convinced that Mrs. Waller circumvented the rules in some fashion, and she went to elaborate pains to prove it.
The unhappy matter finally found its way to the courts where mother told the judge she thought something was not exactly according to Hoyle, because she used to sneak over to the Wallers’ backyard which is where that first robin spent all its time digging for worms and whatnot and fire a shotgun just over the robin’s head. That stupid bird never so much as flinched a feather, she told the judge and that is when she began to think that something was amiss.
The judge dismissed the claim on the grounds that he doubted the testimony of her only witness, a cigar store Indian in a Shirley Temple dress, and he also ruled that the bird could have been deaf.
To the rest of her days mother was convinced that something was wrong. Meanwhile father stayed above the fray, cowering in the upstairs closet and hoping that mother would get over her rage long enough to put dinner on the table. By ginger, ours was a lively household, let me tell you.
The running of the noses
The more I stumble along on this planet, the more I realize that life is as full of surprises as a magician’s pockets. One can only imagine my consternation when I discovered recently that we are already into that rite of spring known as The Running of the Noses. This annual event triggers heavy betting by the populace, and I believe that could be the origin of the old saying to put your money on the nose but I could be wrong, as I am so often. In fact you can bet on it, but I digress as is my wont.
What I really wanted to discuss was the meat of a chat I recently had with my old pal Consecutive Jones at the Mudslide, a popular gathering place not far from some of the finest homes in the Beach.
Consecutive is an enthusiastic fan of the ancient game of croquet and he is delighted to hear tentative plans are afoot to hold a croquet tournament some time this summer on the grounds around the Gardener’s Cottage. It should be made clear that Consecutive Jones is a creature of my imagination but plans for a tournament are very real indeed and a dedicated committee is working hard to bring those plans to fruition.
I am hoping to be appointed as general manager of the event’s Health and Safety division because I would bring a wealth of hands-on experience to the task. For many years I and The Wife staged croquet tournaments in our backyard and invitations to the big day were eagerly sought by members of Our Set.
Eventually interest began to wane because of injuries to shins and ankles caused by errant croquet balls so we switched to sponge balls but they tended to float out of the field of play resulting in lengthy delays while they were tracked down in nearby yards. Then one year the cat ate all seven of the sponge balls so we decided to cancel the games.