Crushing it on his 71st birthday – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


Gator rides for my grandkids were on the menu for my 71st birthday, along with watermelon, sweetcorn, sliced tomatoes, garden salad and choice of barbecued ribeye or t-bone steak, plus half-pound burgers, courtesy of Blossom, our hand raised Angus heifer. My son-in-law, normally a picky eater, ate two-and-a-half steaks. I’ve always liked that boy. Ice cream cake, for dessert, rounded out the birthday celebration. 71, who would have thunked it? I said Grace for the blessing of my wonderful family.
The following day, I partook of my annual Medicare check-up. On the way, knowing about the mental part of the check-up, I rehearsed saying the months of the year backwards, starting with December. The doctor was impressed, noting, “Sharp!” on the chart. Ha!
He was looking unusually fit. I asked him if he worked out. He told me that he had gotten a Peloton bike, and had “crushed it” the night before. “Crush” is one of those Millennial words popular today.
I came home and Ginnie and I spent the rest of the day putsying around in the garden. I must say, for not getting our garden in until the first of June, because of the wet spring, it sure has come on strong. It’s the best garden we’ve ever had. Of course, I hand water it every two-to-three days. Let the grass burn up, I don’t care! It always comes back. I’m sick and tired of mowing! But the garden will have all of the water it needs.
Each year, we like to try something new. This year, it’s okra and decorative gourds. The okra is four feet tall and hasn’t even bloomed. I don’t know what we’re going to do with all that okra. It’s rather foreign to me, but it sure is doing well. The decorative gourds, on the other hand, are dying out. We made the mistake of planting the decorative gourds in hills in the sweetcorn, like the pumpkins. The pumpkins love to run in the corn, and peek out here and there. I guess the decorative gourds need more sunlight. Next year, we’ll know better.
We hauled up a bucket of cucumbers and onions to the house. The perfect summer time meal: cucumbers and onions, sliced tomatoes, sweetcorn, and either watermelon or “mushmelon” for dessert. Can’t beat that. Well, maybe with green beans we can. Those will be coming along in another week. Umm, umm. Green beans and bacon!
After the garden work, it’s nap time. I sit back in the recliner and watch the gold finches at the feeders. They sure are pretty, and a delight to watch. (The finches have replaced Barney, Blossom and the chickens.) When we first put the feeders up, there was one pair of the Iowa State Bird. Evidently the word got out, or other finches noticed these finches feeding. We now have three, maybe four couples helping themselves to the free thistle seed. “The Swarms’!” they seem say. “Free lunch at the Swarms’!” We think the original couple is nesting in our nearby maple tree.
I love to watch the finches fly from the feeder to the tree. They fly in a small sine-wave pattern, like waves on the ocean. Unlike sparrows or starlings that fly pretty much in a straight line, finches like the wave motion. It’s peaceful.
I’ve noticed that three male finches, the most colorful birds, can feed at one feeder peaceably. However, let a female, the less colorful bird, show up, and there’s trouble.
They like to hang upside down to feed. On one feeder, the finches can stand upright to feed. On the other, they have to hang upside down. They prefer upside down, like they must work for their food.
My eyelids grow heavy. I wake up with a start. Where am I? An hour has passed in an instant. Ginnie is cooking supper. I tell her, “I sure did crush that nap!”

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

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