Four Walnut Boards

There was a time when my husband and I loaded up the kids and left the city in our rearview mirror. We got back to the land. We heated our farmhouse with wood, had a big garden, canned our own food, raised chickens and rabbits and goats. We even had a cow until it grew horns and chased me around the yard. Yeah, I was screaming.

We had geese. And he couldn’t find work. Every time he applied for one of the local jobs he got laughed out of there. No one could believe he would be willing to settle for such a cut in pay. Well, we couldn’t believe it either, but it was all part of leaving the rat race.

We lasted five years. He left first. A job in the city. I closed up the place and followed a year later. But this is about the walnut boards.

One of our neighbors wanted my husband’s old pick up and since it was a young fella short on that rarity called cash, he proposed a barter. One cow (yes, the old boy that chased me around the yard), one antique musket loading rifle, and four walnut boards.

Yee-hi. We were officially rednecks.

Well, the years went by like train cars passing in the night. Or day. And we moved a couple of times and we kept dragging those boards (not broads, that’s a different story altogether), we kept dragging those boards along for the ride.

Now I admit I thought of burning those boards more than once, but it was stuck in my mind that they were of great value. Very hard to come by. And a tree had died to make them. Or something.

Eventually I was cleaning out my husband’s toolshed and what did I find propped in the corner, white bird doo-doo streaking down the filthy things like ghost-blood after a massacre?! You guessed it. Four neglected walnut boards. Lord have mercy.

I dragged those boards outside and I was thinking, Bonfire! But then the old nagging came on me…these things are priceless!

So I cleaned them off and dragged each one to the basement and put them on the high, high shelf, one at a time and with some words only old sailors with dementia might say.

And guess what? One night many, many green-cheese moons later I was struck awake by the slap of inspiration that comes with old age and insomnia. I was going to hang those boards and add some iron hooks and make a dandified coatrack!

So I got those heavy as a cannon lead boards down from that god-forsaken shelf and they each were rotted on one end in the most wonderful ways. I dragged each board upstairs and got out the yellow rejuvenating wood stuff and wiped them down and shined them up.

And here is what I have now. Thirty-six years of dragging these old bones through my life and now…glory!


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