All is quiet now.
by Charlie Leck
It is a rainy, bleak and chilly day. God didn’t give us an October in Minnesota this year. Perhaps we were being punished for something or other. We jumped right from September into Minnesota miserable and I missed out on my favorite month. There are not a lot of Octobers left for me, so it is painful to have let pass this one.
I generally live for October to roll around. In a normal October the days are pleasantly warm here, but not too warm. It is a time to roll out sweaters and chord slacks. The evenings are chilly, but not cold. The air is exceptionally different and a pleasure to breathe in. It’s perfect weather for walking, golf and yard-work.
This year there wasn’t a single round of golf in October. The leaves, wet and mushy, still cover the yard. It was way too rainy for much walking (the most rain of any Minnesota October on record). Hopefully, November will bring some dry days that will allow raking and tidying up around the house.
It is the last day of October as I write this – Halloween Day. I think back to this day in 1991, when we were moving into our newly constructed house. My wife was in New York, at a horse show, and missing all the fun. My sister had flown up from Dallas to help me set up the furniture and unpack the things for the kitchen. The moving company showed up with a large semi. I had told them to arrive in two smaller trucks because the driveway was not suitable for turning a semi around. The unloading started about mid-morning, just about the same time the snow began to fall. By noon, the snow was falling in amazing abundance. It was difficult for the movers to get stuff into the house without gathering a lot of moisture and we had to call off the unloading. There was already a foot of snow on the ground and the truck driver faced the daunting task of backing his rig down a winding, quarter-mile long driveway that went up and down charming little hillocks. Fellow-workers walked along side the trailer, indicating the edge of the road where there were a few serious drop-offs. They just made it to the gravel road that leads down to our house from the highway. Fortunately, the city had made its first pass down the road with a snow plow. The big truck managed to climb the hill that leads out of Sheepy Hollow.
With little work to do, my sister stood at the kitchen window and looked out into the heart and soul of a Minnesota barn-burner of a snow storm. It wouldn’t let up. Little kids would not be out trick or treating on this night. Our little seven-year-old was disappointed, but even she understood reality as the afternoon wore on and the snow wouldn’t cease. My sister excitedly worked the phone while it functioned. She called friends in Dallas and tried to describe the wonder of what she was watching. Eventually, the power lines and telephone lines fell under the weight of the snow. We trudged down to the farm to spend the night in the tiny apartment we kept in one of the farm buildings. It wasn’t awfully cold, so I didn’t worry about the water lines in the new house freezing. I wondered, though, how long it would be before that truck could return with our furniture. My dearest one would not miss out on the unloading adventure after all. It was sometime in the night when it finally stopped snowing. The official announcement from the airport was that thirty-one inches had fallen. At our farm we were sure it was a few more inches than that.
It had been a remarkable October up until that final day of the month. The carpenters and painters had been able to get full days of work in on the house. We were even able to begin some semblance of a yard and the driveway was fully groomed. I must have golfed a dozen times that October.
Remarkably, in a week the snow was gone and mild weather returned. Some final touch-up work on the house recommenced and the moving company returned with two small trucks and the remainder of our furniture.
That was nearly twenty years ago. The little one is grown up now and living on her own in the big city. My sister has gone to the stars. Mom and I now spend our Octobers here, in the same house, alone and anxious for Thanksgiving when children will return with children of their own.
Tonight, as always, no kids will venture down our long and winding driveway to trick or treat us. Nevertheless, we bought plenty of candy, as we always do, just in case – just in case this one time they decide to pay us a visit.