Monday, August 19, 2013
A couple weeks ago, I needed a hole dug. Ordinarily, I am not the sort who decides willy-nilly “HEY, I think I am gonna dig a hole!” for no good reason. No sirree Bob. The event which caused the desire for a hole was the not-unexpected demise of our cat, Cera.
She was old, about18 as near as we could figure. Our Grandson was about 3 when our daughter got her as a kitten, and he just turned 21. Her health had been flagging, and one could see the mainspring unwinding. Still, she was our cat, and I miss her.
(PLEASE!!! Do not interpret the above as an impassioned plea for another cat! My Lovely Bride and I have run our course with kitties. We are perfectly content to pass our days with out the company of a cat. Besides, as my sister the school-teacher always said; it bugs her to have a pet with a more intelligent expression on it's face than she has.)
But, I digress.
As this was the weekend before my Big Adventure in Stent-land, my ability to dig a hole was greatly hampered. What I really needed was a couple of 9 year old boys with shovels.
See, when I was a kid, digging holes was not just a pastime; it was practically elevated to an art-form.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, it was nearly impossible for 2 or more boys to gaze upon a neatly manicured lawn, or well-tended flower garden and not be seized by the insatiable desire to see what lies underneath.
Kids today, from my observation, have some how lost this marker in their DNA. Rather than be outdoors, getting plenty of exercise excavating Mom's peony bed, practicing problem solving skills, and running like mad from Mom; they are content to spread out upon the sofa or recliner fixated with a glazed stare at some electronic device clutched in their trembling little hands as they save the galaxy Ommpah from total annihilation.
Having an insatiable desire to see what lies beneath the surface of Dad's creeping bent lawn can only be dealt with one way; rummage around the garage or tool shed locating every piece of equipment which can be employed to remove dirt.
The adventure was enhanced all the more as the contagious enthusiasm spread around the neighborhood and to nearby farms. Boys of all shapes and sizes would descend upon the excavation site in droves! Speculation as to what would be discovered ran wild!
Certainly, a pirate with poor map reading and geography skills tired of lugging his treasure chest around and decided to bury it in Ohio; fully intending on returning some day.
And, there was that bank robber who was on the lam back in the 30s! He probably hid the loot right here as the cops were closing in! It would not be at all surprising if there was 400 or 500 hundred dollars right beneath our feet!
Then, there were the really wild theories, such as ancient Viking explores were searching for the Northwest Passage, before there was supposed to be a Northwest Passage, but they got wiped out by the local Indians. However, not wishing to have a bunch of dead Norsemen cluttering up the forest and whatnot, the Indians buried the entire lot. We were certain to recover their swords, and axes, and hats with horns on them
One misguided lad actually was excited about possibly finding old rocks he called “fossils” and bits of arrowheads and stuff he called “artifacts” Poor kid... last I heard he was some kind of big shot at a museum.
Thus began the Big Dig, as it would be known. With shovels flailing, dirt clods flying, and high pitched voices barking orders, giving suggestions, and the occasional exclamation; work progressed rapidly.
Frequently, Archeology Boy would order a halt to all work as his practiced eye examined odd shaped stones, bits and pieces of semi-decayed wood, and the odd old 7-Up or Coke bottle cap. The uninformed work crew always pondered how a bottle cap could be in the same location as a genuine Mayan stone chipping tool, but we were assured such anomalies were not uncommon in the archeological world.
Eventually, due to either having to go home and wash up for supper, or giving in to the strident unending complaints of the excavation site's owner, or finding something all together more interesting to do; work would end for the day. Sometimes work would become stalled for an indeterminate period of time.
The reasons for such stoppages were varied; such as summer vacation plans depleting the work force, inclement weather, and the most common; the property owner issuing a cease and desist order. These pesky little things were virtually impossible to overcome.
At some point, a skeleton work force would be called back for the purpose of “back filling” the hole; which is a construction term meaning “put the dirt back in the hole you dug”. Back filling was no where nearly as enjoyable and rewarding as excavating. In fact, it bore an eerie resemblance to actual work!
My Dad, however, was an exception to the No Work mindset of the era. In fact, is was not unusual for him to suggest likely areas where pirate loot, stolen money, or skeletons may be buried. With a renewed vitality, the usual suspects would gather to undertake the quest. We thought it was pretty neat how my Dad would arrive home and eagerly inspect our work. He would look at the hole,
make some suggestions, such as a bit deeper here, or making it bigger around; all the while assuring us we were within mere inches of the Discovery of the Century. We envisioned our photo on the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer under the headline: “Junior Archeologists Discover Ancient Viking Bones! Prove existence of dinosaurs in pre-Columbian times!”
No one said our headline writing skills were the greatest.
Then, the strangest thing would occur. At the close of work, there would be a perfectly round, deep hole in the ground with a nice pile of excavated dirt beside it. Shovels, pick-axes, hoes would be lain neatly aside awaiting our grubby little hands in the morning.
Come the sunrise, I would venture out to find our dig now occupied by a rose bush, or a tree, or some other such intrusive vegetative form! The hole would be filled in, the ground around damp from a recent application of copious amounts of water, and the tools put away neatly in the garage!!
Not once, not twice... SEVERAL times this occurred!
We would all confer about this most puzzling of events. We narrowed the options down to the most obvious. One, the Russians were messing with us, and the plants were some kind of spying device; or Two, little green men from Mars were messing with us, just because they had nothing better to do. Come to think of it, none of my old group ever went on to become a detective.... odd....
The voice of my Lovely Bride asking about proper disposal of Cera brought me back from my visit to the past. Yes... the need was pressing, and becoming more urgent with the passing of time. Knowing I would not be able to dig a hole, and lacking a group of 9 year old boys we opted for the next best thing. A friend of ours in his late 20s would be the equivalent of approximately three 9 year old kids. In theory at least.
It struck me as strange he was not taken with the idea of finding hidden bank robber's loot. Nor did the prospect of digging up pirate treasure along the Chagrin ignite any bonfires of enthusiasm. Viking artifacts? Forget it. I could only account for this unusual lack of adventurous optimism to the fact that lawyers just don't get too wound up about stuff like digging in dirt. Particularly ones who are also Professors of Tax Law.
I must admit, our friend, while not as entertaining as a group of 9 year old boys would be, did a much more efficient and satisfactory job. The hole was sufficient to contain the earthly remains of our kitty.Had a bunch of 9 year old boys done the job, the hole would be about 4 inches deep, and 4 feet long. While sufficient if Cera had met her end beneath a steam roller; hardly adequate for her current state.
The job complete, the dirt tamped down firmly we walked away in silence.
I know I was saddened.
I was saddened over the loss of our cat, and saddened over the loss of romance which had once been part of digging a hole.