Too Many Frogs

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(Host) Commentator Willem Lange and his wife recently had the children and grandchildren at home for a few days, and discovered that, like old rubber bands, they’ve lost their snap.

(Lange) The alarm clock was set for 4:15; but I was awake. I lay there. Then a voice beside me said, “Before you ask what’s going on, I’ll tell you. I’m taking the kids to Hartford. And before you protest, let me just say, don’t.”

It’d been that kind of weekend – like trying to grab half a dozen frogs. A few minutes later Mother’s van rumbled down the driveway. The dog jumped up on the bed, sighed, and laid her muzzle on her paws.

Most days around here are pretty busy: phones ringing, fax stuttering; chain saw, splitting maul, washing machine, lawn mower. But they don’t all happen at once!

But this Sunday morning the house looked the way it used to when the kids were still home – magic markers, picture books, Lincoln logs, a doll’s shoe. How did we ever muster the energy to do every day back then what had exhausted us in only two days this time. There were eight of us in the house – two kids, their spouses, and two grandchildren, plus two extra dogs and a cat. There were figurative frogs hopping everywhere.

The two disoriented visiting dogs and cat were trying to find their way back to Ohio. When I heard crying under my window at four in the morning, I didn’t ask the cat how she got out. I was just grateful she wanted to come back in.

Our son, his wife, and two daughters came from Texas. They rented a car in Hartford and drove up for a weekend of hiking, crafts with Grandma, picnicking, and fishing. The house held everybody, and Mother and I still had a bathroom.

What could go wrong? Saturday morning we climbed a couple of local hills. I carried in some firewood. Our son tried to mow the lawn in shorts and discovered a ground hornets’ nest. Our daughter drove up in a U-Haul truck. We loaded it with her stuff, and she left for her new house, promising to return early Sunday to load it again before Mother and I had to go to church. The others would go to a reunion, get up early, and zip back to Hartford. Lots of moving parts, but under control.

That was before the rental truck died and the rental car got a flat tire. I’d gone to bed with the sole responsibilities of helping to reload the truck and reading the Old Testament lesson in church. Mother stayed awake until the rental car came home on three tires and a doughnut. Then she woke up in time to warn me: no questions.

By late Sunday afternoon we had phone calls from Dallas and Montpelier; all was well. We sat looking at each other in the fading light. D’you get the number of that truck?

This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, and I gotta get back to work.

Willem Lange is a contractor, writer, and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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