Sow’s Ear: Fixing fence is a sign of true love
April 14, 2006
by Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.
I found Iris in her kitchen waltzing with the broom. This would have given me cause for concern in any other kitchen. However, this was Iris’ domain ” “Control Central of the Universe.” Here she creates impossibly divine concoctions; decides the fate of neighbors and friends and inspires awe in lesser mortals.
“How do you do,” I said to the broom. “Have you seen Iris?”
The broom didn’t answer but Iris caroled, “Number-two son has popped the question!”
“Hey,” I said, “that is good news. Tell all.”
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Over a cup of coffee and a couple of Iris’ special “diet donuts,” she unburdened.
“That kid has finally got himself engaged. He’s been going with Marcie for three years. It’s about time.”
“So what’s she like? You weren’t too fond of the young woman Murdock was dating five years ago.”
“Oh, she was all right,” said Iris, “but Marcie is in the medical profession along with Murdock. They can both talk sutures and blood clots and scar tissue and weeping wounds while eating their sandwiches.”
“So, when did you first suspect?”
“Thanksgiving,” said Iris. “Murdock brought Marcie home to the ranch and she helped around the place.”
“Like how? I thought she was pretty much a city gal.”
“Sure, but a farm girl, too. She tagged along with Murdock doing all sorts of ranch chores. Nothing seemed to phase her. When Murdock had to doctor that steer with the sore eye, Marcie held on to the dally rope around a snubbing post while Murdock put ‘gooey stuff’ in the critter’s eye. She said it wasn’t any worse than the ‘icky’ she experienced in the operating room.”
“Gooey? Icky? Scientific surgical terms, I presume?”
“Not exactly, but you know what I mean,” said Iris. “I really like her. Marcie has lots of sand.”
Knowing Murdock, I could only agree sand and a certain staunchness would be requirements. “Did he deep-fry a turkey again this year?” I asked.
“Uh-huh,” said Iris, “Marcie passed the test without flinching, well, except for when the hot peanut oil splashed on her hand when Murdock dropped the bird into the cauldron full of boiling oil from about 5 feet. He should have submerged it gradually.”
“Ouch,” I said. “What’d she do then?”
Iris chuckled. “She stuffed turkey entrails in Murdock’s back pocket without him knowing it. The cats and dogs trailed him all afternoon.”
“Sounds romantic as all get-out,” I murmured as I accepted another cup of coffee and a third donut. “Was that what clinched the lovers’ knot?
“No, I think it was the fencing,” said Iris. “Murdock and Marcie spent most of a day fixing fence in the upper pasture.”
“Gosh,” I said, “it must be my age, but I wouldn’t consider an all-day fencing chore a romantic interlude.”
Iris grinned. “Marcie told me that my son, the surgeon, bent a fence staple into a circle, then got down on one knee, took her hand, slipped the staple-ring onto her finger and proposed in the grand manner.”
“Aww, how sweet,” I said.
“Uh-huh,” said Iris. “Marcie said this was the first time she’d ever been stapled, so she figured she had to marry Murdock.”
“So everything turned out dandy, like in story books,” I said.
“Absolutely,” said Iris. “I got a new daughter-in-law and my fence fixed.”