Reflections: Engaged to be Caged, Part II

George Rowe

We walked from Canadian Tire to Tim Horton’s without speaking a word but I was bursting on the inside. I want to let off an explosion of laughter but I knew that if I did I would no longer be her Dad and would be recognized only as Uncle George—to that distance I was not prepared to go.

I was so engaged in the project that I made a personal commitment to construct the best possible raspberry enclosure known to humankind. Deer would be standing outside salivating while the delicious fruit would mature into a great addition to the desert tray later in the summer. We talked about nails, screws, 2 x 4 and 1 x 4 lumber and all the tools I would require to make an impregnable defense for raspberries.

With all of our supplies, the trip back to Sparwood was a little more comfortable as we talked about style, dimensions, colour and, because my time was limited, a completion date had to be finalized.

I took all my supplies into the back garden and carefully laid them out. While doing the measurements for the enclosure I noticed that the raspberry canes looked pathetic. The parts of the plant that weren’t eaten by the deer were trampled into the soil with little foliage and absolutely no signs of fruit. It looked like a hopeless dream but I was determined to play a small part in raising delicious fruit from a disastrous situation.

It was now mid afternoon and very hot. I was sweating! The mosquitoes were by the millions! The grandchildren had a thousand questions! My daughter was sitting on the patio giving some timely advice. My wife found a good book and was relaxing in the coolness of the basement and I was now engaged in the project of a lifetime.

I don’t know if it was the heat or the watchful eye of my daughter or the irritation of not being able to fly fish for a whole day but things just didn’t go right. I dug holes in the wrong place, cut some of the wood too short, banged my thumb several times with the hammer, lost a whole bunch of screws and misplaced a bag of galvanized nails.

Sweat was blinding my vision, mosquitoes were biting into my flesh, the heat was making me dizzy and untimely advice from my daughter was driving me nuts. The project moved forward with holes finally dug according to dimensions, the enclosure was taking shape and I was now ready to staple the infamous chicken wire to the four outside corner posts.

After being tested and tried, the wire was in place and for all intents and purposes the project was completed and my sweat covered, mosquito bite-covered chest rose with pride at this tremendous achievement.

And then my daughter shouts, “Good job Dad! Now you need to cover the top.” I retorted with, “I need to do what?” “You need to cover the top,” replied my daughter. “You need to put chicken wire on the top to keep the deer from jumping over the enclosure.”

My wife, who was now sharing the patio with our daughter and added to the confusion of the moment when she said, “The deer will still jump over the enclosure because they won’t see the chicken wire on the top. They will get all tangled up and will probably hurt themselves.”

“Whatever!” I said. “I will cover the top with chicken wire and call the paramedics if needed.” I felt like throwing up my hands in despair but I was determined to see this through. I made every manly effort to complete this task in front of the two ladies and my bewildered grandchildren.

I measured and cut and stretched and stapled chicken wire to the point where my fingers were bleeding. I then looked around me and shouted with a great deal of pleasure, “Corette, Sheila, grandkids, the project is completed and I am out of here!”

I was hit by a wave of hysterical laughter and finger pointing by the ladies. The grandchildren are rolling in the grass and I heard somebody shout, “You built the enclosure around yourself and now you can’t get out.” Suddenly my head stop spinning. I took a long and careful look at the situation and sure enough, I built the enclosure around myself and I just sat amongst the pathetic raspberry patch and screamed, “Why me? Why me?”

I reflect upon this real-life happening and still laugh. I laugh when I think about the employees at Home Hardware and Canadian Tire. I laugh at the thought of being called Uncle George instead of Dad. I laugh at the thought of deer being entangled in chicken wire. I laugh when I think of my daughter passing me some wire cutters to make my escape from the enclosure.

I also laugh when I visit Sparwood, wonder into the the back garden and see delicious raspberries. It is important to laugh—to laugh with each other and appreciate the moments that caused us to celebrate in that moment of hysterical laughter. The Bible says of God, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21). Remember, the sun is always shining and that in itself should cause us to laugh.