May 29, 2024

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Memorial Day Ceremony is now available in ARC Event Library

Goober Peas and Isolation

By Barbara Robinson

It was a beautiful French Provencial home, on the banks of Wolf Creek, perched alone in a woods of tall Oaks and Pines with azaleas rhododendrons and wild trillions decorating the edges of the property. Looking back, it had been hard leaving our sea side quarters in Hawaii but this new Michigan home was like moving onto a great estate.  The kids had plenty of room and work was only a few miles away and could be reached by bicycle or car.  It all seemed so perfect, that is until the first big winter snow when we realized how very far away we were from any city services, especially snow plows.   Our isolation became markedly apparent when an emergency arose at work and my husband was forced to ski into work and noted no one was on the roads.  The snow and cold weather were a strange phenomenon to our five stair-step children who had only known diapers, training pants, and T-shirts in Hawaii.  You played inside, you played outside, it was all the same on the island. Now you were coerced into winter armamentarium including full body snowsuits, two pairs of wool socks, plastic bags wrapped around your feet as you tugged on your boots, gloves first, then mittens and an extra hood for your head.  The kids loved it, despite the drill with the winter attire, they were absolutely amazed at the snow.  On the other hand, I was near exhaustion as I pulled a sled out of the garage and was greeted by a neighbor on a skidoo who stopped to warn me that because the snow was so heavy but still fluffy, we had best shake as much off our pines as we could before the snow iced and broke off branches.  Okey my snow experience was minimal having spent most of my youth in southern climates.  My husband, Terry having grown up in Warren Michigan was our in-house cold weather expert.  However, as I mentioned, he was not at home, having skied to his office to take care of emergency work.   What to do?

It was about this time when one of my five little snow people confronted me with a desperate request for a bathroom.  He was backed up by his sister who was shivering with cold.  Ok, I thought as I opened the door to our mud room, how do these trees survive in the wild when it snows like this?  Does someone flounder through the snow to rescue an entire forest?  No, these trees are on their own.

 I escorted my two bathroom seeking children inside and headed outside to retrieve the rest of my brood.  They had managed to wrestle their sled up our perilous driveway and were just launching off its summit.   I watched in horror as the overloaded sled plowed down our driveway and came to rest tangled in the rhododendron bushes that skirted either side of our front door.  I was able to disentangle my three children from the bushes and get them headed into the mudroom of our back entry.   That is, except for one, who once the sled was rescued headed up the driveway incline again.

“Oh no you don’t” I yelled as I grabbed the oldest child’s arm. “It’s time for lunch”

After helping the kids peel off their outdoor gear and applying disinfectant, mercurochrome, and the obligatory bandage I was able to get to the phone and see if I could get through to my husband at his office, hoping he would be there and able to head back to our home on his skis before evening as more snow was predicted. I was able to get through to Terry on our house phone, cell phones did not exist among the general population.  He was just closing the office and heading home catching a ride with a neighbor who had a snow blow. 

The pine trees survived the winter without being shaken even once and did not loose one bough, which was a great disappointment to my husband and our kids as both elements had great plans for the downed limbs.  Terry was thinking firewood and kids were thinking a tree house or a fort.  I was just thinking thank God.

Along with maintaining his office practice my husband, Terry had to attend a weekend a month away from home in the Navy Reserve in Toledo Ohio.  This left me and the kids alone in our big house in the woods, and no it was not like “Little House on The Prairie” (Sorry Laura Ingalls Wilder) more like the “Adam’s Family.”  The isolation of our home, being the last house in the Burnwick subdivision, sometimes worried me but not the kids. They spanned ages 9 months to 5 years so they found many delightful entertainments built into their home.  I think best of all were the staircases built to connect the three levels of the house and it was just terrific to slide down as the stairs were all carpeted.  The house was endowed with a giant room on the top floor that had no wallpaper or carpet but was ideal for budding baby artists and Tonka truck parades.   It was hard at first to get the budding baby artists to limit their work to the walls of the unfinished playroom.  Another attraction which I discovered one day when emptying our built-in vacuum system was the punishment for all “Fisher Price Little People” These toys were evidently pushed into the vacuum ports, located on all three floors, kudos to the folks who designed the system because all the people got through without plugging up the system.   The most daring entertainment and one which we as loving parents had to put the kibosh on was the laundry chute which connected the third floor to the second and the door of which was within reach for our taller children.  The chute ended inside a cabinet just inside our dining room.  Suddenly one evening when we called the kids for dinner “wham” the cabinet door to the chute popped open delivering our eldest child and brother onto the floor of the dining room.  As time passed and the children became more creative in their homemade adventures and the school bus brought a few hours respite from these adventures for me,

I prayed on cold blizzard mornings, “please let the school bus get through.  Don’t cancel school.”

  In fact, on many days, I would have gone out and pulled the school bus through its appointed rounds just for a reprieve from the day’s kiddie adventures. Oh, did I mention throughout the seasons we had a creek flowing through the back yard.  It was called Wolf Creek and as in the story of “Goldilocks” the wolf brought another hazardous lure for our flock.   

We had many fun loving adventures in our isolated home in the woods including snow man building where more snow came into our mud room than got on the snow-man.  The house endowed with many closets and pantries was ideal for “Hide and Seek.”  What fun was had until Anne, the baby, couldn’t be found as she had fallen asleep in a closet in the guest room and didn’t hear the “All ye all ye in come free.”   In summer pretend cooking on the patio barbeque which was left on by little fingers.   Gave Terry and I a chance to meet our meter-reader as he inspected our home for a gas leak after our midsummer gas bill looked like a mid-December invoice. 

To my mind one of the scariest adventures in our beautiful but isolated home took place when our son Trevor accidentally got a peanut stuck up his nose.  How this little trip to mayhem occurred I have yet to discover. 

 All I know is our eldest child Drue came running down the bedroom stairs in tears half laughing and half crying but with a good mixture of fear mixed in his voice, “Mommie Trevor stuck a peanut up his nose and can’t get it out.”

Now I know there are many phrases a parent lives in terror of hearing such as, your child just fell off her bicycle, your son fell into the river, she fell off the roof and the beat goes on, but never had I dreamed of this scenario.  Immediately my nursing mind jumped to the protocols for blocked airways but usually this was with mucous, pieces of food or candy, not with peanuts stuck in the nares. 

I looked up from the kitchen counter and both Trevor, Drue,  and all my children were standing in front of me with worried expressions.  Was this the breaking point for mom? Was she just going to give up her mommy title and walk away?

Close, but isn’t this type of emergency what Moms are made for?  Yes, no maybe?

I stooped down and looked Trevor in the eye. “Tell mommy if it hurts?”

Trevor seemed very calm and shook his head back and forth as I was trying to coax some vocalization.  His little voice came through with the words, “it tickles.” 

I bent over and tried to visualize the inside of Trevor’s nose without any luck. I helped Trevor climb up on the dining room table and lay down and used a flashlight to investigate his nares and yes there it was a peanut lodged in the back of his little teddy bear nose.  What to do?  Trevor did not seem to be in any airway distress, he even coughed a couple of times.  I thought of the suction machines we had used at the hospital and this gave me an idea that might prevent the mayhem that would pursue loading all the kids into the car and checking into the hospital emergency room.  I knew this was flu season and business would be beyond brisk in an ER especially just before dinner time, when fevers started to spike in tiny tots, chest pain became more frequent in adults, and kids buffeted each other into bumps and stitches on the playground.  Talking to Trevor I tried to explain what I was going to attempt to do as I dragged out the car vacuum.  Trevor was not alarmed but seemed relieved that mommy had thought of something.  He even took the vacuum wand from my hand and tried to extract the captive peanut himself without any luck.

This situation was now getting out of hand as my efforts with the vacuum had been futile.  I now resorted to that good old standby, Daddy.  I phoned my husband, Terry, and in a calm voice tried to explain about Trevor and the peanut.  He was relieved of course that Trevor was not having any respiratory difficulties and said he would phone an ENT doctor and get right back with me. 

I hung up the phone and went over to check on Trevor who was relishing all the attention his siblings were giving him.  Tasha had even gotten a flash light to check on her brother’s nose. 

The phone rang and my husband, in a calm voice said, “Just take him over to Dr. Lee’s office, I guess this happens a lot more than I thought.  My cousin had something like this happen to her nose with a pea and it even sprouted in her nasal cavity.  She suffered no side effects from the experience.  Dr. Lee assured me Trevor was going to be alright and just to bring him into the office.”

Off all six of us went to Dr. Lee’s office which was literally an invasion since our group took up most of the chairs in his waiting room.   The office receptionist was startled when she slid open the reception room window and found the room completely full.  I smiled apologetically and started to explain. 

She in turn laughed and said “ Oh you are the Robinsons, please don’t tell me they all have peanuts stuck up their noses.”

“God forbid,” I chuckled as I excepted the usual office paperwork and headed back to my seat next to Trevor. 

Just as I regained my seat, Trevor began to sneeze and sneeze and sneeze until “puff” out of his nose flew the obstinate peanut across the waiting room. 

I sat stunned for a moment and looked toward Trevor who was shrugging his shoulders and appeared none the worse for wear.  He blew his nose, and no blood was noted. 

Giving the kids the sign that it was time to go, we all scurried across the room and Trevor discreetly retrieved the forsaken peanut.  Letting the receptionist know we had resolved the critical peanut situation we headed for home, just as the first few heavy flakes of winter snow began to fall and I murmured a prayer for the schools to be in session tomorrow.

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