The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

The thing one doesn’t know about retirement is that, when combined with a winter with snowfall close to record depths, you spend a lot of time in your house. Winter, it turns out, isn’t so bad when you don’t absolutely have to be someplace at some time. Yet one tries to establish some kind of pattern.

Which breaks down to some well defined categories, the first of which is drinking coffee every morning and watching the bird feeder.

  “Say, isn’t that a finch?”

A sip of coffee. Then the reply: “Uh, huh.” 

“Look, there’s a red-bellied woodpecker and a grosbeak.”

“Uh, huh.” Then we both take a sip of coffee. Life is good. Two birds we’ve never seen here before. A great day. Then of course the squirrels, the blue jays, the pair of pileated woodpeckers, and the bright red cardinal.

When he comes–the cardinal–the white sterility of snow as far as one can see makes the bright red cardinal stand out like a house afire. 

Okay, there’s the bird watching and coffee drinking part of our day. Time to pay some bills.

“Have you seen the checkbook?” I ask S. I’d swear it was right beside my place at the kitchen table mere hours ago, but I go check the car in the garage, become absorbed in changing a mouse trap, sweeping up some dirt, discovering a tool that has arisen from the flotsam on the work bench out there that I haven’t seen for years, and go back in the house.

Where I cannot remember why I went out to the garage, so some time goes by when I drink more coffee, look out the window, sit down at the table, and see a bill to pay.

Ah! The missing checkbook. I get S. involved, and we spend some time kicking back and forth the information that yes, it was right there, she remembers it too. Right there. On the table.

We mill about aimlessly in the kitchen, picking up this and that for several minutes, during which time I look at the clock and say: “Look! It’s lunch time.” 

And after lunch time it’s nap time. And then it’s look for the check book time again. “It was right here,” says S., pointing at the kitchen table. “Yes,” I reply, “right here by the book I was reading.” 

“Well, what happened to it,” we both say at the same time. About now, I tell the story of finding the key fob for a car I had several years ago. I looked and looked all winter. Finally, spring came and I went out and dumped the compost bin, which I’d been adding to all winter. I pawed around in it to shovel some into a bucket for the garden and voila! There was that stupid key fob I’d been looking for all winter. It apparently fell into the pail, off the kitchen counter, somehow. (It still worked!)

About now, S. says: “Well, I know it was here at supper time last night, because I used it to prop open the lid of the spinach leaf container.” We look at each other, and at the same time say “Oooooohhhh, noooo, that couldn’t happen.”

S. looks in the refrigerator, and my check book is in this largish clear plastic spinach leaf container.

This is retirement. We’re pretty healthy, really. But mentally??

But given any projected outcome as we age, we’re apparently going to spend most of our day looking for something.

“Hey, S., have you seen my cell phone?” (I already looked in the refrigerator.)