The wind outside is howling, and tearing at the house like a pack of wolves. Jeepers what a storm. Even the Indomitable Moxie and Maggie the Wonderdog won’t go out in it. Instead they are curled up beside me on the couch, sleeping. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a cold rainy evening.
I forgot to mention, but last Saturday night we hosted the 5th grade Girls soccer team from Our Lady of the Subdural Hematoma, along with their parents and siblings, for a campfire and S’mores party. The prior week was one long preparation for a two hour campfire. So on Friday evening, 20 Prospect Jr. and I got out the shovels and dug up the old annual garden to make a fire pit. We’ve been meaning to re-purpose the garden for some time.
We aren’t really the gardening type, but when we moved in the previous occupants had built a three tiered garden over an old tree stump. We considered taking it out, but the ground around it was raised from the roots of the old tree, and we already had 10 other stumps, plus bushes to grind up. So the garden has made it for 15 years, hosting an assortment of annuals and weeds. Lately though, Maggie the Wonderdog has decided that it is a great place to dig, and the old wooden beams had rotted out and begun to crumble.
So our project was to turn the old garden into a firepit for the party. Our old retired neighbor across the street gave us the drum from an old washing machine to use as the fire ring. Why he had an old drum from a washing machine behind his shed, I didn’t ask. He comes from my parent’s generation, so I’m sure that as a child of the depression he learned to save everything, because you never know when you might need it. I can hear him now explaining to his wife how fortunate it was that he stored that old washing machine behind the shed for the last 20 years.
So 20 Prospect Jr. and I dug a three foot deep hole in the dirt, as the dogs sat on the back porch thinking,
“What the hell!? How come when we dig holes there you smack us on the ass? Flippin’ humans!”
We buried the drum until just the top 4 inches protruded above the ground. The firewood was delivered on Saturday morning, and the afternoon was spent cleaning the house. (because you never know where the party guests might go snooping when they come inside to use the bathroom.)
By 6:30 the fire was roaring, and by 7pm the guests began arriving, 16 kids and 10 adults. (Damn Catholics, we breed like rabbits) Then for the next two hours the adults stood around the fire exchanging parenting notes about illnesses, after school activities, and which kids at school were most likely to end up in juvenile detention by age 14. Meanwhile, the kids, age 4 to 12, spent the evening playing some sort of game that involved them running around the back yard, screaming at the top of their lungs, and taking turns tackling each other and dragging each other off to the jail under the swing set. Apparently they have a future in law enforcement. Or a religious order. Don’t let it be said that they no longer instill discipline at parochial schools.
By 9:30 pm, the party was over, and we were left with a lifetime supply of hot cider, marshmallow, and graham crackers. How or when we learned that being a good host means setting out 3 times as much food and drink as necessary, I have no idea. But whenever we have a party, or go to someone else’s, it seems to be the norm. Maybe it was those trips to Grandma’s as a kid when she served three kinds of meat, and four kinds of potato for Christmas dinner.
So we put the kids to bed, and as the fire burned low, Mrs. 20 Prospect and I collapsed into the lawn chairs, and watched the embers glow in the darkness. Even the dogs were exhausted.
And so another week came to a close on the front porch, and another one dawned. This one holds the promise of more school, piano lessons, hockey practices, and finishing Halloween costumes. And if the weather itself hadn’t clued us in to the change of seasons, this is the week of hockey tryouts for 20 Prospect Jr. For five nights this week the kids will play and scrimmage to determine which ones make the “A” team, and which ones are relegated to the “B” team. Why they need five nights to figure this out is beyond me. Popes have been elected with less deliberation.