Andrew Jackson, genius and problem-solver

The Jacksons: From the August 13 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

Rose Jackson carried her coffee cup and her toasted bagel into the new sunroom at the back of the house and headed for the bright-blue Adirondack chair facing the backyard.

Andrew was already seated, steam curling up from the coffee cup on the arm of his chair and a newspaper spread out on his lap. Outside the sun was climbing just above the east hedge and bright drops of dew glistened on the grass where the rays reached the grass on the west side of the lawn.

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cartoon image of a family seated at a table
cartoon image of a family seated at a table
cartoon image of a family seated at a table

A flash of colour darted across the yard as a yellow-shafted flicker winged its way toward the oak trees on the neighbouring property. Rose seated herself setting her coffee on one arm of the chair and her plate on the other. She sat for a moment, staring out at the idyllic scene. At length she picked up a piece of bagel and took a bite, but not without heaving a fairly obvious sigh.

Andrew looked up from his paper and studied her for a moment. He folded the paper, dropped it on the floor beside the chair and picked up his coffee cup.

“What’s up?” he said.

Rose gazed pensively at the scene outside. “It’s beautiful out,” she said.

“Yes it is,” said Andrew. “But I don’t think that sigh was a sigh of contentment. So,” he repeated, “what’s up?”

Rose shook her head slowly. “Nothing, really,” she said.

“All right then,” said Andrew. “Nothing it is.”

“I miss the farm,” said Rose.

There was a moment of silence. Rose took a sip of her coffee and another bite of her bagel.

“Of course you do,” said Andrew. “That’s not a surprise is it?”

“Sort of,” said Rose. “I was ready to move, that’s not the issue. And I really like this place, so that’s not the issue either. I guess I’m just surprised that I miss it now, so long after we moved. I didn’t at first, so maybe I thought I wouldn’t at all.”

“I would miss it like crazy,” said Andrew, “but I go there almost every day. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I didn’t.”

“Yeah,” said Rose. “I don’t think about it all the time, but sometimes I do.”

There was another pause. A dog barked somewhere outside and the flicker flew back across the yard and landed in the elm tree to the east of the house.

“What do you miss the most?” asked Andrew eventually.

Rose thought about that for a moment. “It’s not really any one thing,” she said. “It’s not the house or the yard or the big tree on the front lawn. I mean, I loved that tree, and I loved the wide-open sky and the view, but it’s not that.” She stopped and took another bite of bagel. “It’s the kids,” she said. They seem so far away.”

Andrew nodded. “I can see that,” he said. “When we lived out there Randy and Jackie were always right there and Jenn was still home, and Brady was just here in town. For some reason the farm seems like it’s farther away from town than town was from the farm. That’s kind of weird.”

“That’s exactly it,” said Rose. “And it is weird. And unexpected I guess.”

“I have an idea,” said Andrew. “I think on the days when Jackie works at the hardware store and you look after the kids, instead of having her bring the kids here, you should just go out to the farm and look after them there.”

Rose raised her eyebrows. “You think?” she said.

“What could make more sense?” said Andrew. “A lot of the time you and I could drive out there together, if I’m going anyway. Plus, then Jackie wouldn’t have to wake the kids if they were still sleeping when she needed to leave. You would just be there when they woke up.”

He watched Rose, and could tell that she was running the idea back and forth through her mind. “I can’t believe we didn’t think of it before,” he said.

“It does kind of seem like an obvious solution,” said Rose. “And to something that isn’t really a serious problem. It’s not like I’m pining for the fjords, if you know what I mean.”

Andrew laughed. “Good one,” he said. “Always a good time for a Monty Python reference.”

“Let’s talk to Randy and Jackie about it,” said Rose.

“Any time you want,” said Andrew. “They’ll love it.”

Rose smiled. “They probably will,” she agreed.

“There’s something else that should be noted here,” said Andrew.

“What’s that?” asked Rose.

“I’m a genius,” said Andrew.

Rose laughed. “I wouldn’t go that far,” she said, “but you’re not a complete dummy.”

“And that,” said Andrew, “is good enough for me.”

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