Original print date August 14, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press
Can you sense it? The hint of cooler evenings and pleasant days – fall is just around the corner and I’m so ready for it.
Fall is by far my favorite season and time of year. The months of September and October are more enjoyable than any other timeframe. The cooler evenings just put me in a better mood. I can work outside for a while after getting off of work. The crockpot can make its way back to the counter top and be used for warm soups and ready to eat dinners of an evening. Okay, so maybe I’m rushing it a little since it is still August but the start of school and football season always makes me wish I could slow the clock down and enjoy the beautiful fall weather for six months instead of just two or three.
I don’t tend to do a lot of decorating for the seasons around my house these days. Putting them all up is always a lot of fun but taking them down is a pain. I do occasionally build a creative scarecrow to wave at (or moon) the neighbors as they drive by but scarecrows always bring up “the” discussion I wish would just go away.
When Larry and I were first married, I decorated for every season and holiday. I would put my creative energy to use in trying to come up with the most unique holiday display in the neighborhood. That first fall, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Larry was working long hours at his job so one evening I went to work on my creative endeavor.
I actually had two goals in mind when I started building my friendly scarecrow. Not only was I decorating the front yard, I was also going to get rid of the most hideous shirt ever crafted by the fashion industry. Larry had this so called shirt that I could not stand to see him wear. The material looked like someone had picked up all the clippings off a sewing room floor and slapped them together to make one last shirt. I’m pretty sure the manufacturer wondered if anyone would even buy it off the rack. It was an atrocious combination of stripes, plaids, polka dots, flowers, and swirls. There was not one solid color patch anywhere on that shirt.
Much to my dismay, my husband was the one human on the face of the earth that thought that shirt was cool. Needless to say, since it was buried on the clearance/closeout rack, it was a cheap purchase. I tried to tell him there was a reason it remained on the rack and was dirt cheap but he bought it anyway. He proudly wore it, in public, even though I begged and pleaded with him on a daily basis to get rid of that atrocious, monster of a shirt.
As I started gathering the needed supplies for my fall scarecrow, I naturally dug in Larry’s clothes pile for materials. Jeans full of holes so the straw would pour out – check. Old cowboy hat well beyond good use – check. Gloves, old boots, and ratty leather belt – check. Shirt? My prayers were answered. I could finally get rid of that shirt once and for all. Surely after sitting in the beating sun, rain, and maybe even a snow flurry or two Larry would let it go!
I assembled my man, perched him atop several bales of hay and adorned his surroundings in appropriate fall décor. I was pretty proud of my first fall masterpiece when I was done. I made my way back into the trailer we called home and cooked up the perfect fall supper.
Larry didn’t come home until well after dark. I excitedly asked him if he noticed the work of art in the front yard. Of course not, it was dark and he was tired. He left before the crack of dawn the next morning so I still didn’t get a reaction to my handiwork.
I’m not exactly sure how many days went by before he actually noticed the seasonal arrangement but even before he made his way into the house, I knew. The screech of slamming brakes and the sound of Larry’s truck grinding into reverse echoed through the house.
He didn’t come in the house for a while. I didn’t venture outside to see what he was up to either. When he finally came in, he had the shirt in hand. My arrangement had been mangled. He put the shirt in the washing machine and gave me a look that dared me to try something like that ever again. I rarely back down from a dare!
His work schedule kept him away from home of an evening for several nights in a row. The challenge to not reassemble my friendly character was just too much to ignore on my lonely evenings. I managed to find where Larry had stored the shirt for safekeeping and recreated my masterpiece.
I’m not sure if he just decided to let it go or if when he finally realized the shirt was back on the scarecrow it was beyond saving. I left the fall scenery up way past it’s prime that year in hopes of the material on the shirt rotting away. Material that ugly does not rot but it did fade bad enough that Larry did not try to save it when we finally put all the fall decorations away to make room for Christmas.
Twenty some years later that shirt still haunts me. It was long ago disposed of but every year, when the first scarecrows start adorning the front yards from Salisbury to our house, Larry reminds me how I ruined a perfectly good shirt with that nonsense. Every year I remind him that was not a shirt. It was a science experiment gone terribly wrong.
Larry dreams of finding another patchwork shirt to replace the one I supposedly ruined. I dream of ways to dispose of it promptly and without fanfare. I just hope it is burnt far beyond saving when he gets the hot dog on a stick held over the fire. My luck he will abandon the hot dog and use the stick to save the shirt.