Curt Swarm – Empty Nest

Curt Swarm - Empty Nest

It was 5:30 in the morning and Ginnie had just left for work.  I settled back in the recliner for a little siesta, the eastern sky barely light on a drizzly morning.  A text message buzzed.  It was Ginnie.  She had just hit a deer on the edge of Mt. Pleasant.  Fortunately, she was okay, just a little shaken.  Her car had some minor damage.  She recomposed herself on the side of the road before proceeding to work.  I should have recognized the omen.
Later in the afternoon, I watched the weather radar turn from bad to ugly.  A tornado warning came in over my phone.  Ginnie was making a run for home.  We talked to each other on the phones, and it looked like she was going to make it.  I breathed a sigh of relief when she pulled into the garage, sporting fresh deer hair on the grill.  I estimated the damage at a thousand dollars.  (It was $3,600.)
The rain started coming down in bucket fulls, driven by a ferocious wind.  Then the pinging started, which soon turned to pounding.  We heard glass breaking.  I looked outside and saw golf balls bouncing in the yard like popcorn .  It sounded like the west side of our house was going to explode.  We were about ready to grab Buddy and head for the basement, but it was over as quick as it started.  We tiptoed outside to survey the damage.  There were drifts of hail up against the side of the house and holes the size of my fist in the vinyl siding.  Whoever said “vinyl was final?”  I checked the baby chicks real quick.  They were fine, but full of speculation about what had just happened.  The pounding on their chicken house (which the hail shredded) had to have been deafening!  Our garden was stripped, with holes punched in the black soil like Swiss cheese.  But the good news, we were all okay.
Ginnie called our insurance company to report the deer accident and, oh, by the way, hail just hit our house.  The insurance adjuster was out the next day (can you believe it?) and calculated the damage at $32,000!  We’re thinking about steel for our roof.
The next day was my first book signing at the Ft. Madison Art Center.  When Ginnie and I got in the car to go, we noticed candy on the floor with mice teeth marks.  (!*##)  A year ago I’d had mice problems, not just any ole mice, but those big deer mice.  Here we go again!
The knowledge of mice in my car didn’t help my emotional state.  I was extremely nervous about my first book signing, but have learned that nervousness is actually a positive sign.  It’s when I’m too relaxed that I blow it.
Curt’s 55 year old Science Fair medal found in a junk shop    The book signing went fine.  One of the attendees presented me with a gift.  While rummaging through a junk shop in Iowa City, she had come across a medal with my name on it.  It was for a second-place finish in our high school science fair 55 years ago.  As a freshman, I had made a ripple tank—a shallow tank of water, with a light overhead and a simple, motor driven vibrator that caused ripples.  Place an object in the tank, and you could see ripples forming around it like wind in a wind tunnel.  The lady couldn’t resist picking up this old medal for me.  Holy cow, what a surprise!  How my medal wound up in an Iowa City junk shop, I have no idea.  But the amalgamation of memories formed around my brain like ripples in the the ripple tank.  What a nice gift!  I remember the science teacher, saying my ripple tank was far superior to any ripple tank he could buy.
Then, one fellow, an old classmate of mine, bought 15 of my books for his high school senior Sunday School class.  Cool.  Maybe my book will make a ripple.  We drove home on a high, ever watchful for roaming deer.
Pulling into the Empty Nest farm yard, I drove straight to the chicken house to check on the chicks.  My headlights picked up a cat snooping around the foundation of the chicken house.  I tapped the horn and hollered out the window, “You leave my baby chicks alone!”–Ripples forming around an otherwise spectacular night.
Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook.  Curt’s stories are also read at 107.3 FM in Farmington.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5472 Articles
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