True story, eh?
At Easter Sunday dinner Pearl and I decided to have a yard sale. My closets were cluttered and the basement was stuffed. Pearl had equal excess. We had things we had not seen in years. We figured the middle of July would be a great time to hold the sale. We chose Wednesday, July 21. We decided to hold it at my house, situated as it is on a main street, with a wide concrete driveway.
Pearl tacked up flyers around town. We checked the weather oracle. Sunny with a few clouds. Temperatures in the high seventies. Precipitation zero. Utter perfection! A delightful forecast.
On Tuesday, the day before the sale, Ted and Pearl and their grandson Justin arrived with a pick-up load and a tent. The tent was a welcome surprise. It would expand our sale area, provide shade, and protect things overnight from the elements, should there be any elements raining down.
Setting up a tent is always great fun. I remember one family outing at a campground on the Elwha River in Washington . My husband and I laid the tent and all its parts out on the ground. I stood with the directions insisting that part A could not possibly interface with part D. I noticed our eight year old son Ben had disappeared. I figured he went scouting down to the river. After several failed attempts to raise the tent we were glaring at each other, sweaty with frustration. At that point a couple carrying camp chairs showed up and sat down to watch. That seemed strange, but we were consumed with trying to unravel the puzzle of tent construction. The next time I looked, at least a dozen people were circled around our little campsite. One family was passing out popcorn. Ben had gone from campsite to campsite and sold admission tickets to our comedy. He clutched a fistful of dollars. When it looked like we were destined for failure, a kind man with a similar tent stepped forward to save the day. In minutes our tent was erected. Everybody applauded.
In contrast, Ted and Pearl ’s tent was a wonder of engineering. Some genius had color coded all the parts. Blue fit into blue and red into red and so on. In no time at all Ted and Justin raised the tent. Pearl and I looked it over and saw that it was good. Ted noticed he had forgotten the tent stakes so he and Justin went back to get the pegs and another load of stuff for the sale. Pearl and I went down to my basement to find my large coffee urn. We planned to make coffee for the hordes of people who would come swarming through in the morning.
We stepped outside just as Ted and Justin drove in. We all stood stunned. The tent was gone. Gone. Really gone. Not there. Not where it was. Not where we had left it. The spot where we had put it was empty. A breeze had come up so I looked east to see if the tent was flying toward Dodson. I scanned the sky for an unidentified flying object. Then Justin yelled from the neighbor’s yard, “Here it is!” A gust of wind had swooped up the tent, sent it somersaulting over a twelve-foot high caragana hedge and landed it sitting perfectly upright in the neighbor’s yard. We each grabbed a corner post and walked it back into my yard. Justin immediately pegged it into the ground.
Sale day arrived. At seven o’clock Pearl and I were making final preparations when a dozen state highway department trucks rumbled around the corner. One man parked in front of my house. He jumped out of his rig and set up cones to block off my street. We ran over to him. “What are you doing?”
“We’re paving your street today.” Who would believe this? Pearl and I could only laugh. We’d picked the perfect day, picked the perfect street, and look. Soon dump trucks full of hot mix and machines to spread and tamp it thumped and clanged in front of my house. The noise was intense. Pearl and I sat out front watching the road show and drinking coffee from our sixty-cup urn. Finally a few people parked on the side streets and walked over to the sale. We urged each of them to have a cup of coffee. We offered seconds. They left full of coffee with arm loads of treasures. The highway crew wandered over at break time. They picked through our stuff. I poured them coffee.
In minutes clouds swooped in and chased away the sun. Rain pounded the ground. We hastily shoved the remainder of our goods under the wide overhang of my roof and into the tent. The highway men milled around and then quit for the day. Soaked to the skin, we drank more coffee and watched the rain. It rained hard. It rained steadily. It rained for hours. At noon, as the rain continued, I suggested, “ Pearl , go on home. Tomorrow is bound to be better.”
The next day the highway crew returned. The rain followed. Pearl and I shrugged and called Ted to come take down the tent. We’ll try again next year, on another perfect day.
HDN: Looking out my back door
July 29, 2010