If this is your first year receiving the story, skip to the last page and you will see what it is all about. For all of you who have been eagerly awaiting this installment, the story continues. . .
"Well," said Bucky, "What do you think?"
"That went very well," said Loie.
"I think you had the good idea," said Bucky. "A one-day party is best."
It was a slow Sunday afternoon; the little bit of cleaning up left by the party was mostly done, and the last overnighters had straggled home. Loie and Bucky were lazily finishing loading the dishwasher for the last time. Wandering into the living room as he scouted for overlooked glasses or plates, Bucky glanced over the crafts table.
"And everyone drove up!" he called to Loie.
"Drove up? You mean the driveway?"
"Yes," said Bucky, "I see our Hawaiian bowl, and it made me think of driving up."
"Don't talk about it," said Loie. "Don't even think about that again. I am never thinking of that again!"
Of course, she didn't mean Hawaii, she meant the Long Winter of '94. It began on the third of January. A modest snowfall seemed like fun, as it was the first of what had been a mild winter so far. But then an icestorm covered the snow. Temperatures plummeted. And the Long Winter of '94 roared over them. Their friend Craig had come from England to visit his parents for the Christmas holidays. He stayed at Loie and Bucky's house for a few days, and thought it a grand lark to have to walk their long, impassable lane to and from the road, where the cars were parked.
And for the first week or so it seemed an adventure. But the temperature dropped some more. In the third week of January a low of minus 14 degrees, not counting the wind chill, was recorded in Manchester, several miles to the south. The battery in Bucky's old Trucker died, and Trucker had to be towed into town to be fixed. Some mornings Loie chipped ice and ran her car engine for almost an hour before she could see out to drive. Walking out the glaciated lane, where the ice was almost a foot thick at the bottom, Loie saw a strange sight. The snow piled on the side of the driveway was blue in the crevices.
"Wow," said Bucky. "I haven't seen Blue Snow in ages, since I was just little. Now you really know it's cold!"
Bucky had to rummage out his old knapsack to carry groceries up to the house from the road where the cars were parked. But it wasn't enough, they were having to make too many trips. So a Rubbermaid tub, with high sides and handles was obtained. Clothesline through the handles made a leash by which Bucky could drag the tub uphill, and control it on the way down!
Animal tracks seen in fresh snow were preserved for weeks when an ice storm or freezing rain filled them. Bird feeders were often filled twice a day, and the birds would fly onto the feeders right over Bucky's head, not waiting even for him to move off.
After a Valentine's dinner shared with their friends Hilary and Mark, Bucky threw duck bones out in the yard. A fox and some buzzards enjoyed the unexpected but sorely needed bounty. And the weather, though milder, continued cold, snowing and blowing freezing rain. By now the yard was thick with unyielding ice, and pieces of ice could be skimmed like hockey pucks for a hundred feet.
But life continued, and about this time Loie saw that mortgage interest rates were very low. She spoke to a friend, and decided that it was time to refinance. And it turned out that they could. Inspectors crawled up the driveway, and all was going well until their water failed its inspection! Now, this would not have been a disaster, as it could probably be cleared up by chlorinating the well and installing a new and better well cap. Bucky thought he could do that himself. But Loie had been so cold for so long, that when their good friend Kinley had called to say she and Paul were going to Hawaii, Loie agreed that this time, she and Bucky would go too. And the trip was planned for only a week away!
The bank agreed to an extension, Bucky bought the new well cap, and late in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 4, in the midst of a driving sleet storm, the 14th storm of the Long Winter of '94, Bucky pried off the old well cap, and chlorinated the well. His fingers were freezing stiff as he bolted on the new well cap.
The plane for Hawaii was leaving at eight the next morning, and Bucky and Loie had to drive to Loie's parents' house in Glen Burnie that evening. They would stay overnight, and Father would drive them to the airport early in the morning. But now, all the taps and faucets and toilets at Lake Drive had to be run and flushed until they smelled chloriney. The outside faucet on the back of the house was frozen solid. The sun was setting, sleet and freezing rain were piling ice on the already treacherous roads. Travel warnings were being broadcast. Loie was dying of anxiety, and Bucky was moving slowly, concentrating, trying not to forget a tap, knowing the well had to be clean on their arrival home, that there wouldn't be time before settlement on the new mortgage to have more than one inspection of the well.
"OK," said Bucky through chattering teeth. "The outside is running smelly. Is that all of them?"
"Yes," cried Loie, and they grabbed up the last small bags to hike out to the car through the howling sleety storm. Later, on the plane, Loie wrote in the Travel diary:
Two big suitcases had made the hike on Monday. . .my Amelia Earhart suitcase, traveling in the Rubbermaid grocery-hauling tub, tipped over and went sliding down the yard and into the woods, bumping into trees like a silver ball in a pinball machine. Two more bags went out Tuesday.
And now they carried out the last of their luggage, and the car and Loie and Bucky and all the bags were driving through the storm, headed south. Blessed south.
The next morning found Loie and Bucky on their way. For the next two weeks they toured the beaches and mountains and restaurants of Hawaii. They spent a week on the island of Hawaii. Volcanoes erupted, birds posed, petroglyphs were eerily enigmatic, flowers bloomed, plants burgeoned, mongooses skittered about, and the island was ravishingly beautiful and scenic and inviting. Loie and Bucky visited ancient ruins, macadamia nut plantations and black sand beaches. After a few days on their own, they were joined by Kinley and Paul. Now the four of them explored the Big Island. Kinley preferred to spend her time on the beach, so there were several lazy beaching days soaking up sun and swimming in sparkling blue water. Paul was the organizer of the long trip to the volcano. He had spent time hiking and exploring there, and brought good volcano luck with him, for that day they saw the old volcano pouring lava into the sea. Huge plumes of steam rose, and lava exploded high in the air! It was a rare and wonderful sight to witness the creation of the earth.
On the last day on the Big Island, Loie and Bucky found their local craft: a finely turned koa wood bowl crafted by a well-known local artist. Then, on to Maui and Lahaina!
The island was covered with rainbows! Every day, every drive, every morning, there were full rainbows over the mountains, out at sea, arcing onto the far beaches. On the north side of Maui, Loie and Bucky found a meadow of wildflowers and grass dotted with small piles of lava stones. These were heiaus (hey-ows) built by local people as little offerings to the gods, and especially Pele, goddess of the volcanoes. Bucky and Loie had read that bad luck would follow if they tried to bring home any of Pele's lava rocks, so they left all geological specimens in place. The meadow of heiaus ended in spectacular cliffs where surf crashed high onto the rocks, throwing clouds of spume into the air. Black Noddies swooped through the jagged towers that the surf had carved out of the cliffs.
The intrepid travelers took a day drive to Hana. The winding cliffside road passed over streams and by waterfalls and black sand beaches. Passing through Hana, they continued around the south side of the island on rutted gravel roads that passed, so someone said, by George Harrison's estate. They never did see him, though. The southern coast was windswept and magnificent. Haleakala crater loomed above them in the sunset, and a rainbow arched above it.
There were beaching and snorkeling days. Whales breached offshore; Kinley was best at the whale spotting, and led everyone in chanting the whale-spotting mantra. One early morning the crew was kicked off Haleakala mountain because of an ice storm! Shopping expeditions found Bucky an aloha shirt and Loie a vibrant jacket of colored patches.
But after two weeks of their tropical paradise, Loie and Bucky's time in Hawaii was over. On their return home, they found the driveway still covered in ice, and they had to walk the suitcases and souvenirs up from the bottom, by the stream. Soon, though, the ice was melting and spring was on its way. Loie greatly enjoyed smashing and breaking the rotting driveway glacier, clearing patches of asphalt and cutting channels for the melting runoff to follow into the stream.
The well passed its inspection and the new mortgage was approved. Now Bucky and Loie were feeling that spring must surely be coming soon! One day near the end of April, Yo called with exciting news. Her friend Nini Tegneir was coming from Sweden for a visit. Nini had been in the hospital having her baby Richard at exactly the same time (almost to the minute) that Bucky was being born. Yo and Nini became good friends, and corresponded often, even after Nini and her husband moved to Sweden.
"You never met Richard," Bucky said to Loie, "And I don't think I ever met Nini, since I was not a little baby. But remember I told you about Richard and I taking that bus trip across country, and how he chased bats at Yo's house with the crab net?"
"And you lost your diary of that trip, didn't you tell me?" asked Loie. "Oh yeah, I did. That bummed me out when I never could find it. That was a great trip!" Yo brought Nini to Loie and Bucky's house one afternoon, and they all had a good visit getting acquainted and trading reminiscences.
"Now you must come to visit us in Sweden," Nini said. Bucky laughed and said that Loie wouldn't like the cold weather there at all. She shivered as the memory of the past winter rose again.
Soon the time came for their anniversary party, and Loie and Bucky were planning and writing and inviting. If you came last year, you remember the good times had by all, dancing to Ellis Woodward's combo, and sitting by the campfire. If you didn't, perhaps you can come this year! Bucky and Loie agreed that the party would continue to be held, one day only, and hoped to see all their friends and relations next year.
The weekend after the anniversary party, Loie had a very rewarding adventure. Her Aunt and namesake Dolores called, inviting Loie to go with her to tend the family graves in Wilkes-Barre. Loie said yes, she would love to come. It was a long day's work, and a very good day too. Loie made a long entry in her journal, to help her remember all of the family lore she heard that day. "That was really nice that Aunt Dolores asked you to go to Wilkes-Barre," said Bucky. And Loie agreed that she hoped to be included every year.
In June, the saga of the perpetual bottle of Yago Sangria took a savage turn. Perhaps you have heard that for some time Loie and her friend Audra have been tricking each other into accepting a bottle of wine that showed up at one of their parties. No one remembers the exact genesis of the tradition, but that old bottle with its worn label has been sneaked back and forth between them many times. Loie upped the stakes, by persuading Mr. John Mason, of Scholastic Books, to pretend that the bottle was a gift to Audra. When she received his "gift" via express shipment, she was undone! But, read on, for the saga is continuing even to this day.
Now spring was over, and summer on its way. On June 17th, Loie recorded in her journal that
We've had a week of very hot & humid weather. . . the sky is white with humidity. . . can't even tell if the sun is out or not, except by the shadows. Lots of chipmunks this year & we're hearing pheasants all the time. A couple of nights ago we saw foxes cross Grand Valley, so they are out there. On June 12th, Bucky and Loie went on their first ever canoe trip with their friends Kathy and Mark Peeling. It was a very exciting trek down Muddy Creek, at least for the novices. Bucky and Loie overturned their canoe a couple of times as the water became more turbulent lower down the river. But they passed through beautiful stretches of misty river, where streams tumbled over worn rocks to join them on their way down the river. A waterfall sent spray floating over them. At the confluence of Muddy Creek and the Susquehanna, a torrential thunderstorm broke out, and they all four had to paddle hard, through the teeming rain and crashing thunder, up the Susquehanna to get back to their take-out site. But as they arrived at the landing, a rainbow appeared over the river, like a magical sign to mark the end of an exciting day.
In the last part of June, Loie's parents' friends Siegfried and Traudel Höfer came from Leipzig for a long visit. They stayed with Loie and Bucky over the Fourth of July weekend. Siggie brought several of his paintings as a present. Traudel brought Bucky and Loie a garden Gnome. He's named Gnome Chomski, and lives in the yard beside one of Bucky's gazing globes. Be sure to say hello to him the next time you visit Bucky's Folly. On July 3, Loie and Bucky took Siggie and Traudel to the mall in DC for the folklife festival. Everyone enjoyed the music.
"I like that old-time gospel the best," said Bucky. "No good!" said Siggie. He liked the more polished presentations, and listened to hours of the great folk music. Bucky and Loie especially enjoyed the crafts exhibit. Weavers and and leatherworkers and potters all displayed and demonstrated and explained their crafts.
"Oh, Buck, look at this," cried Loie. She took him to see the lacemaker. Bucky and Loie were both awed by the complex and delicate work; hundreds of pins had been set in a pattern in a small velvet pad, and the lacemaker's quick fingers wove thread around and between the pins, working from memory alone, to make the beautiful lace. "How did you ever learn this?" Loie asked her. "Oh, I learned from my mother," the lacemaker laughed, "And I memorized how to work all these patterns." She waved her hand at the display behind her. A dozen different pieces of fine lace were on view.
"That's incredible," mused Bucky. The lacemaker just smiled.
The next day Loie and Bucky were up early to travel down to Yo's house for the Glyndon parade. Every year, they help their nieces and nephews, and their friends, decorate bikes and baby carriages and wagons to ride in the parade. Toshie and Nicky were there. Toshie's friend Sarah Shaw came with her mother and several friends. Baby Victoria rode in her stroller. Loie's parents came for the parade, and Traudel and Siggie came along with Loie and Bucky. Bucky's brother Pete and his wife Terry were there, with Brian and Alyssa. Loies' parents, Frank and Eleanor, were there, too. This was the first year they would actually see the parade. They had always come to the picnic later, bringing crabs for everyone. But this year, they decided to join Traudel and Siggie to see the parade.
Yo's front porch was bustling with decorating activity. Banners were hung, the flag was raised, and soon ten o'clock and parade time arrived. Sarah and Kent and Torie and Toshie and all the kids headed out for O'Mara's field to join the parade. Loie and Bucky and Yo and all the other adults carried their folding chairs and flags and hats to the top of Bellview Avenue to await the parade. In the excitement, no one thought much of the fact that Loie's father Frank followed the kids toward O'Mara's field.
Neighbors and friends gathered along the parade route. The day was turning hot. "But not as hot as that one year that Loie's folks came up with the crabs, and we all had to have head-hoses, remember that?" said Brother Pete to Bucky. "Oh man," said Bucky, "yeah, that year was hot."
Then Yo cried, "I see the parade!" and Bucky had to start video-taping, so that the collection of tapes of Fourth of July parades, all of which look exactly the same, and can only be told apart by the date showing at the start of the film, would remain unbroken. There are many such collections of photographs at Yo's house; Thanksgivings, and Christmases, and beach vacations; with children growing, and their children growing, and everyone likes to haul them out and laugh trying to guess what year each was taken and enjoy not being able to decide.
The Glyndon fire engines passed by. All the spectators applauded and waved their flags and called out "Happy Fourth of July!" The volunteer firefighters waved back, proud of their engines and their work. Now the parade was passing. Parents pushed babies in gaily decorated strollers. Kids on bikes swerved and swooped, alarming mothers!. Dogs wearing bandannas panted in the growing heat, but looked proud as they trotted with their people. And there was Frank, marching in the parade!
All too soon the parade had passed, but Bucky said, "Now down to Railroad to see it again. Hurry up. We'll go down to the bottom of the street and see it again!" And sure enough, when they had all walked to the lower end of one-block-long Bellview Avenue and set up their chairs again, here came the parade! It always makes a circle around the few blocks of central Glyndon, ending in O'Mara's field where it began. So the spectators were able to cheer and wave to their families and friends all over again. And now Frank was waving and calling, "Vote for me for Mayor of Glyndon!" Which was really very silly, because Glyndon doesn't have a mayor!
Loie and Bucky and some of the spectators followed Frank and the rest of the parade to the field for the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of The Star Spangled Banner. Juice and cookies were served after this, and friends met and greeted each other and admired bicycle and wagon decorations. Then it was time for the picnic! Everyone agreed that although the hot day felt good after the long cold winter, they were glad it wasn't as hot as the head-hose year. Siggie wanted no crabs, but Traudel enjoyed a few.
Most of that summer was spent close to home. Yard work and mowing and stacking the wood pile were the weekends' entertainments. Bucky was surveying his clover-field experiment with disappointment as he said, "I don't think that that guy was right. This old stuff didn't reseed itself. I'm going to have to sow seed next spring." The clover field was weedier than it was clovery, and the butterflies and bees were not nearly so abundant as they had been the year before.
"But it was an experiment," said Loie. "Now you know what to do"
"Well, OK," said Bucky. "You're right, live and learn. Always something."
It was the beginning of September when Bucky said, "We're really going to see Phel and Bob in Luray?" Loie had arranged for them to meet her friends Joe and James in Luray. "Yes," said Loie. "It'll be fun seeing them after so long." Loie and Bucky had, some years ago when they were still living in the city, spent several long weekends at Phil Jacobsen and her husband Bob 's bed and breakfast in Virginia. The countryside had enchanted them; many new birds had been added to their list on the wild and deserted hikes they had taken in the Shenandoah and Massanutten mountains.
Perhaps it was just as well that Joe and James were not quite so interested in all-day walking as Bucky and Loie were. "I don't know if I could get all the way to the top of Bird Knob these days. I'm a little out of shape for that!" laughed Bucky as the four friends strolled through New Market visiting the antique shops.
Loie laughed too, and said, "That trail was so steep at the beginning, and neither of us would admit that we wanted to quit, because we each thought each other wanted to keep going!"
"I'm glad we did. That's where we saw that old black bear coming down the trail, up on top of Bird Knob."
The four friends did a short hike, and explored Skyland, in the Shenandoah mountains. On their last day in Luray, Loie and Bucky were not surprised to find they had been thinking the same thing about the Virginia countryside. And they mentioned it to Phil and Bob.
"Oh, yes," said Phil. "There's been an awful lot of building around here lately, and you two haven't been to see us for ever so long!"
"Well, it's funny," said Loie, " But I think nowadays it's quieter out at our house than here."
"Hmm," said Bucky. "Maybe so, but I think we used to think it was so quiet and dark at night here because we lived in the noisy old city. Now we're just used to nice peace and quiet."
"Hmm," said Loie, "Maybe so."
Luray was quiet and refreshing as always, and Loie and Bucky had a good time exploring with their friends Joe and James, and catching up on all the news with the Jacobsens. But then, a few weeks later, Bucky and Loie were living at a very different pace.
"Caserta's!" Bucky was crowing! "Yes! I can't wait!" They were in the kitchen at the home of Bucky's old pals Diane and Roger Farren. They were in Providence, Rhode Island, where Bucky had gone to school. And they were planning their first Caserta's pizza pigout. Meeting some more Provpals, Tony and Suzanne, they hit the decks running at Caserta's, on Federal Hill, running. Diane staked out a table, and the boys ordered Wimpy Skimpys and two "lodge" pizzas. (That's "large" for you non-Providencials.) Their orders were called, and Loie was flabbergasted to see the guys returning to the table with four cafeteria-style trays covered with that delicious, fragrant, spicy, olivey Caserta's 'za.
"Are you crazy?" she cried. But soon everyone was plowing in, and reminiscing, and catching up, and the pizza was disappearing fast! "Oh, man, I can't believe it," moaned Bucky. "Caserta's pizza at Caserta's! Am I glad you made me come to Providence." Loie laughed, and said that she was glad too. They visited with the Farrens for the weekend; took a walking tour of old Benefit street, making a special stop at the ancient Lightning Splitter House. They found some of Bucky's school-day haunts, and the Slater Mill, birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, on Saturday.
That night Diane and Roger hosted a dinner party at their house. Everybody was there! All the parents, Jason and Molly, (the youngest generation of Farrens), brother Rusty, Cousin Billy and his wife Elaine, Bobby making marinara sauce, just everyone Bucky used to know in Providence.
The next day they were off to Newport, stopping along the way to visit the surf-carved Jamestown Cliffs. Loie and Bucky spent the week at Di and Roger's parents' summer cottage in Buzzard's Bay, on Cape Cod. What a week! They spent a day at Plymouth Plantation, visiting the Pilgrims, speaking with Governor Bradford and many other people living in the year 1629. Another day, after Loie had successfully negotiated the labyrinthine streets of downtown Boston in their rental car, Bucky and Loie walked the Freedom Trail from Boston Commons to Bunker Hill. They visited the Old North Bridge where the Minutemen fired "the shot heard round the world".
"I was here in 1976 for the People's Bicentennial," Bucky told Loie. "Did it look the same?" asked Loie.
"Well, there was a more trash blowing around, and a lot more Yippies!" laughed Bucky.
That same day, they found the trail through the woods that led along the shore of Walden Pond to the site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin. Loie and Bucky agreed that it was a lovely place, and later Loie wrote in her diary:
I had imagined him living in solitary isolation. . . as a matter of fact he was only a half hour's walk away from his parents' house! Not exactly off in the wilderness was Thoreau!
On their way back to Buzzard's Bay and another lobster dinner, they stopped in Salem, and found a house that had belonged to one of the judges in the famous Salem Witch Trials. "Oh brother," said Loie. "I guess the witches are the big draw around here!" as they passed yet another shop selling witch souvenirs. There were even witch drawings painted on the trash cans!
One day, the travelers boarded a ferry boat and spent the afternoon on Cuttyhunk Island. The weather was fine and hot, and the little island glowed in the sun. Loie came out of the island's only store with a small pamphlet for their collection and said, "Listen to this! There are only fifty year-round residents here. But there are a thousand people here in the summer, coming off the boats and all."
"Well, then I'm glad we're here now, and not when all those people are here," said Bucky. That night, he had oysters yet again, at the Daniel Webster Inn. A dozen this time, exclaiming, "Man, these oysters are sweet, and tender. Cotuit oysters. Right out of Cotuit Bay!"
Despite their luck in discovering fascinating gravestones and interesting people and funny old houses, Loie and Bucky had no luck at all finding a local craft.
"I guess being the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution drove craftwork right out of the blood around here," Bucky mused, after the last unsuccessful try at a craft-hunting expedition.
"We'll just have to claim that steamed lobsters and oysters were our local craft," answered Loie. The trip's last day was spent with their Provpals Di and Rog back in old Providence, and yes, everybody gathered again at Caserta's for a farewell dinner of 'za and Wimpy Skimpys. "And don't forget Caserta's 'Za as our other local craft," mumbled Bucky around a mouthful of it.
The end of November brought sad news to Loie and Bucky. Michael Wolinski, the hairstylist Loie had been going to at Public Appearance, passed away after contracting bacterial meningitis, due to a fall on his way to work. It was very sudden, of course, and a shock to all his family and friends. Loie and Bucky will remember him always, for they have now been accepted as slaves by his cat. Gunther is a ten year old long-haired male. His dignified and quietly friendly manner, and beautiful face are a welcome addition to the household. Be sure to say hello to Gunther next time you visit; if you behave with the proper decorum, and assure him that you consider him the handsomest cat ever seen, he will graciously condescend to be held and petted. It is, after all, only his due.
Loie was at Public Appearance while Michael was in the hospital, and after a long talk with her friends there about Michael, Denise, the owner of Public Appearance exclaimed, "Oh, Loie, we almost forgot! Your basket of beauty products is still here!" A little frown of puzzlement passed over Loie's face, but then she remembered the raffle.
"You're right!" she said. "Oh, I guess we were so worried about Michael, I forgot all about it, too." For now she remembered that several months ago she had purchased a raffle ticket to benefit stray animals. The third prize was a "Basket of Serenity"; beauty products donated by Denise. And Loie had won third prize! The prize was retrieved, and handed to Loie. Everyone was beginning to laugh, and as Loie recognized the largest item in her prize basket, a slow chill stole up her spine. The blood left her face; she was paralyzed with terror and mortification as she saw, nestled amongst little bottles of beauty supply samples graciously included by Denise, swimming before her blurred vision, the object of dread. The perpetual bottle of Yago Sangria had returned!
And she had paid five dollars for it! Denise explained through her laughter that Audra, the Archfiend, had cunningly persuaded them all to participate in the bogus raffle, selling tickets only to Loie, and calling her to tell she had won "third prize." It was a masterful hoax, and Loie's confidence in Audra's perfidious ingenuity was renewed.
On New Year's day, many friends and relations gathered at Loie and Bucky's house to enjoy a brunch of good-luck Hoppin' John, and help them plant their Christmas tree. The guests also enjoyed the clams Bucky steamed, left over from Loie and Bucky's New Years Eve party. Frank had brought a gigantic sack of clams for appetizers before dinner. It contained two hundred and fifty clams! "Well," said Frank, "The man at the store said they were cheaper this way." "Oh, Frank,: exclaimed Susan, "We'll never eat all those clams!" But, between New Year's Eve and New Years day, the clams were eaten, and enjoyed by everyone.
Unlike the Long Winter of '94, the mild weather of '95 kept all of the evergreens bright and healthy. Forsythia was trying to bloom while the Christmas tree was being planted! And now crocuses have blossomed, the wind is out of the south; spring is really almost here! And the best thing about the spring is that Bucky and Loie will see all of their friends and family at their FOURTH Annual Anniversary Party, Spring Festival and Gathering of the Tribes. . .
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