Heat of July 1972

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Tuesday, July 22nd: I didn’t do a laundry that morning so had some extra time. After breakfast I fixed some quick yeast rolls because we were out of bread, then went for a walk. The children and I got up as far at the bathtub settling tank, which they called Daddy’s Bathtub. I decided to stop and clean it out a bit. We had to rescue a lizard that got knocked in when I took the lid off. It was a big, fat thing and made me think of a picture in the Alice In Wonderland book where she cries up a flood and a lizard (I think) was struggling in it. We’d stopped at the place where the lower spring crossed the road so I could show them how we used to play cigarettes with the jointed horsetail stems (equisetum) when I was a child. Rebecca had been running around pretending to smoke Legos. My parents smoked but none of my brothers nor I did.

From there we went up into the woods to the flat where the gooseberries and raspberries grew. Fortunately there were some ripe raspberries—a treat for everyone even in small quantities. We went a little further to where the road forked up to the Upper Trailhead and then went home.

After lunch, when Clarke was down for his nap, I read some more from The Hobbit to Rebecca and Jeffrey. We started it the night before and then that night I read the 2nd chapter. I mowed the lawn, which took about an hour, while the two older children played in the pool. Woke up Clarke and enticed him into the water with boats to play with. He’d been complaining about it being cold.

My niece, Dana, was going to come and visit for a week. Peter and Angenett would bring her on their way down from Seattle. She was 13 and after a week would go home on the train.

Horace Jones called twice to discuss a protest letter concerning a timber sale west of Devil’s Backbone. That night I typed a letter for that.

“I really get nervous at night when Bob’s gone. Shouldn’t I suppose. I guess it’s that only a nut would come this far at night—not a reassuring idea.”

Clarke disappeared that morning only “we didn’t realize it until we heard a shriek and suddenly realized he was missing. I was weeding and the other two were playing on the porch. We found him at the gate to the barn area, hung up on a star thistle. Thank goodness for star
thistles! “

I didn’t sleep well that night. It was hot and Clarke was fussy. I took him up to the outhouse with me and talked about the stars and sky and the next day he kept running to the window, pointing up and saying “sky, sky”.

After breakfast, dishes, etc. and running some diapers through a cold rinse we headed for Big Bar. Down the road near the jeep road and the orange pelton wheel was a doe leaping up the bank with one fawn trying to follow her and the other still below. The one trying to go up the bank couldn’t make it and stopped, bleating. I stopped the car and we watched as the doe came back down onto the road. The nearest fawn nursed. Finally the other joined her and they went slowly up the jeep trail. We were all delighted at such a start to our ride. I thought the doe was the same one that was always in our yard. She was quite calm about everything.

In Big Bar I bought cat food, bread, and a few peaches and popsicles for the children as well as purchasing last Sunday’s paper. Mailed some letters at the post office.

Back at the house I finished the laundry, fixed lunch, put Clarke down and read from The Hobbit.

Called Bob who had just gotten to Florence and Leonard’s. His plane had been late. He was watching the Democratic Convention. “I didn’t even know it was being held.” The two older children talked to him and said goodnight. I’d gotten begged into reading two chapters of The Hobbit so bedtime was later than usual.

Jeffrey read two more pages from the little book of Get Off the Desk. “He’s really doing quite well. Sounds out words well and is picking up a small sight vocabulary.”

Eric and Marilee Woods, Steve and Ingrid arrived around noon on Saturday, wanting to hike to the Upper Ranch. It was very hot and I didn’t envy them that trek. Bob made two trips into town with the truck, first going in with his car. He brought back two loads of sand and then spent some time in the pool cooling off. I fixed cold tongue sandwiches and green salad for dinner and when the Woods came back fed them the same thing before they left. Jeffrey was really intrigued by Marilee’s Levis, which she had patched in many different designs.

Thursday we went into town and, after Rebecca’s piano lessons ate lunch at Varney’s and met Bob there, then went to the library. I washed all Bob’s shirts from his trip at Florence’s and then ironed them at our house.

Clarke had started having tantrums—that age. Flops down on the floor vertically and crying. So far no kicking and screaming.

Bob and I took the children to the pool from about 6:30 to 7:15, then went to Florence and Leonard’s for Aunt Nell’s 88th birthday. It was actually the 26th but she would be in Washington then and Florence and Leonard on vacation. Anna May, her daughter, was there as were Elsie and Vivian Tye; and Dick, Kay and Michael Morris. Rebecca was all dressed up and helped serve and seemed very dignified and old compared to all the boys.

We got a late start on Friday going to the ranch—too many errands first. It was kind of a miserable drive. Clarke cried a lot from fatigue and the heat; Rebecca and Jeff were pretty good thank goodness. Got everyone a popsicle in Junction City. Stopped at Prairie Creek to wet some dried wash cloths and Rebecca rubbed Clarke with this which helped. Got the groceries into the refrigerator and the children into the pool as fast as possible. Put Clarke down for his nap after he cooled off. Bob got home around 9:30.

Alice called to say that Peter and Angenett were delayed a couple of days so Dana would be later too. After dinner Bob was putting the rebar in the septic tank hole so he and Jim Fields could pour the next day. He was doing this in the dark with an extension cord out there and lots of mosquito repellent.

Saturday I was up early. Cleaned some spoiled food out of the refrigerator and tried cooking hamburger and pork chops at the same time to make sure they didn’t spoil. Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Bob took the boys with him on several short trips as he readied things for the pour. Jim kept the cement mixer going and full and Bob was in the hole tamping. They worked till 3:30. Candy and I had a relatively easy time supervising children. Carin reminded us of Rebecca at that age. Lots of questions. Talked constantly in sentences and asked, “What are you doing?” Rebecca used to say, “Whatcha donin?” They left around six.

Bob and I went in the pool just before bedtime to cool down. It was so hot upstairs.

On Tuesday when I was watering the cement in the septic tank to keep it damp –did this every few hours—‘I realized I was also watering a rattlesnake. It had apparently fallen in. So Rebecca and Jeffrey got to see a live rattlesnake in action—and also a mommy. I took a shovel and went down the ladder into the hole. Stood on the ladder first. The snake saw me and coiled up slowly—it had a black tongue. Its body had the usual brownish markings with a tinge of green, very much like dry grass. But back by its tail it had black and white rings around the body, more like a king snake. It seemed sluggish, just a wispy dry rattle came from its tail. After the first whack near it with the shovel it crawled to the south end of the hole and tried to crawl out. That’s where I killed it. It must have just eaten or just changed its skin. That would account for the slowness. ‘

“Rebecca turned away after the first encounter and wouldn’t watch (understandable). It was really sort of creepy being down in a pit with a rattlesnake. I decided that I’d better watch Clarke more closely. He’d be likely to try to pick one up.” I’d been concerned that if I didn’t kill it one of them might be looking and fall in.

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