Night Chores

She hears the creek,
It’s voice burbling
In the darkness
Just as it does this time
Every year,
The heavy snows
To run down the mountain sides
Promise flowing,
Within cold water,

And she wonders
If it will wash away
The bleakness
That has been the winter too
Or if that will persist
Even through the sprouting
Of green grasses,
The blooming of jonquils
Of tulips.

And she cradles the cold pans,
Metal clanking on metal
As her head lamp casts
Its beam
Back and forth,
Back and forth,
While she calls,
She calls,
She calls…

And she waits,
The stars not shining,
Through heavy clouds
That she knows
No longer hold white flakes.
From the smell on the air
She can tell they hold nothing at all,
Not for her,
Not on this night,
Their purpose only
To block the celestial light
To emphasize the suspense,
To keep her guessing,

And then there’s the rumbling whicker,
The two pairs of glowing lights
That reflect her searching beam,
Pinpricks of life from out of shadows,
Jewels in velvet,

And, with the soft thudding
Of enormous feet
Dark shapes
Hulk out of the gloom,

And she touches each one
As they nose into the pans,
Their shaggy coats coming away
By the handsful,
Covering her fingers with hair
That is no longer needed
In this warming season.

And she pats,
Though she really shouldn’t,
Giving them her best whicker back,

And the creaking of the gate latch
Says to her once again
That they are well,
They are safe,

And running water
In the background of night
Declares the spring.

©2019 Annette Meserve

Morning Egg

morning egg

I’m no stranger to nightly forays through my house in the dark.  Often times, there are two or three of these errands from bedtime to dawn and years ago I just stopped turning on the lights. Though the bathroom is as far from my bed as it can be, I have a small house and I know the way, surely.

No, getting lost has never been the problem (I’ll wait for my elder years for that!), the problem has more been the landmines that the other residents of my house have laid for me from time to time.

For the most part, the trips are uneventful and I find myself re-snuggling up to my dear husband even before I’m fully awake, my sleep barely interrupted.  This, I think is part of the strategy: make the mark comfortable and unsuspecting.

In years past (quite a few years, truth be told), the culprits were my very own children.  Maybe it was retribution for all of those math assignments, grammar lessons, and p.e. classes I gave them during their homeschool education but, whatever their motivation, inadvertent or not, once in a while there were surprises in my nightly way.

Now, most parents who became parents after 1949 can attest to the disproportionate degree of pain that can be inflicted on an adult foot by a tiny plastic block with little nubbies on the top.  According to Wikipedia, 560 billion Legos have been produced in the last 65 years and I’m pretty sure that, for a time, most of them resided at my house.

Another odd reality that all those parents have certainly witnessed is that Legos cannot be contained regardless of the receptacle you choose.  We tried yoghurt containers, shoe boxes, special plastic tubs made just for the purpose, and even an old Styrofoam cooler that had once contained lobsters destined for my husband’s restaurant kitchen (this was an attempt at subterfuge, maybe we could fool the little buggers into staying put!).

Try as we might and regardless of how many times I’d been reassured by my little angels that they had picked up all of the devilish little blocks, there was frequently one (and sometimes a whole carpet-ful) waiting to way-lay me on my midnight trek.

Ah! But those years are gone and so are the Legos.  Before my children trundled off to University, I was successful in convincing them to let the delightful things go.  They generously gave the entire Styrofoam cooler to the much younger cousins, you know, my little sister’s kids (Ha! Revenge is sweet!).

What my son and daughter didn’t give away before they left were their cats (one each) and I think it was less leaving their beloved pets in our tender care as it was handing off the baton.

Of course, I agreed to keep them, not because I’m a particular cat lover (I am not) but because I have a soft spot for any living thing and these things had been living with us long enough I couldn’t see my way clear to making them live somewhere else.

gordon and starlight

Now, I really shouldn’t complain, their special brand of late-night landmine was actually a demonstration of the service they were doing.  You see, in their younger years, Starlight and Tiger (yes, definitely monikers borne of letting the kids name the animals) were able hunters and did their bit to make sure our house was kept mouse-free.  Bully for them!  Now that they’re older (and are suffering a marked lack of teeth) I’m fully aware of how much work they used to do for us.

But it goes without saying just how unsettling it is to be tromping through the house, still half in a dream, only to step into cold squishiness and find a mousey digestive system curling around my toes, nothing else, just a tiny stomach and its accoutrements.  EWWWWW!!!!!!!!!

With the dream vanished, I would find myself doing an unplanned flying half-lotus to get my foot into the sink for vigorous cleansing (yay, yoga in the middle of the night) then retrieve a paper towel, use it to collect the offending organs, throw them in the trash, retrieve more paper towels, wet them, scrub the bloody spot on the rug, dispose of them too, wash my hands thoroughly, dry and then wash them again just to make sure… wait, didn’t I get up for something?

But it’s a rare night that has only one trip to the bathroom so, a few hours later, off I would go again only to find that the mouse the cat had eaten was a ‘bad mouse’ and it had come back up in much the same spot where it had met its demise.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

All of this is enough to make one try to hold it until morning (or a smart person might turn the lights on) but, alas, I’m a middle-aged woman and holding it is just not an option.

So, at this juncture, you might ask where the ‘egg’ of the title comes in and you would be right to do so.

Well… it really is Molly’s fault.


The cats are aging, as I said before and aren’t really in the hunting business anymore, so I guess my young Labrador feels like the late-night sabotage is her job now.  Molly is the youngest of our critters (she doesn’t even remember the Lego years) and the goofiest; she gives us a good laugh on a daily basis.

Molly is also a diligent collector of eggs (not her most popular skill).  Ours, though, are geriatric chickens, living out their retirement on our dime, and we’ve pretty much given up on their being egg-layers.  They wander around the yard, eating bugs and taking dirt baths in the freshly turned and planted gardens (yes, a better place for them might be the pressure cooker but we just don’t get around to it) and, we’ve assumed, not laying eggs.

Turns out, we were wrong and here’s where Molly is beginning to show a degree of maturity.  In her youth, she was known for stealing into the chicken house for a little egg snack when no one was looking.  In those days (keep in mind this was only last summer), if she found an unattended egg, she’d crack it and slurp it down faster than you could say, “No! Molly!”

But she’s all grown up now!  Now, when she finds an egg, she’ll stash it for later, we’ve found eggs in the strangest places… and I bet you can guess where this is headed.

It was easily the most startling sensation I’ve ever had at two in the morning; sort of a crunch but more like a crackle… but more delicate… a crinkle maybe… but that’s not it either.  Oh, it doesn’t really matter, the end result was a weird, viscous squishing through my bedsocks and a strangled, disgusted sound that I can neither duplicate now nor could stifle then.

It woke Gordon who immediately turned on the bedside light (he is, after all, the sensible one of the two of us).  There was nothing for it, we called Molly and let her clean the floor (thankfully it was on the adobe, not the rug), while I gingerly pulled off my sock and crawled back into bed.

Okay, enough is enough.  After twenty-three years being the victim of guerilla tactics on my way to the bathroom, I’ll turn on the lights, you happy now?  And maybe we’ll have oatmeal for breakfast; I think I’ve had enough of eggs.

white chicken