Andrew Jackson sat alone in the dining room, a full cup of coffee on the table in front of him, next to his newly opened Saturday newspaper. Outside a chilly breeze whipped a few stray leaves across the lawn and deposited them in the windbreak of the lilac hedge. Andrew’s thoughts were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a man walking across the lawn, his head down, protecting his ears from the cold of the wind. Andrew’s son Randy was coming over for an early-morning cup of coffee, and at that same moment his wife Rose appeared in the doorway of the dining room, her arm in a sling but with a smile on her face.
There was a perfunctory knock on the door. “Good morning,” said Randy from the entry. “I’m too lazy to make my own coffee today.”
“Well it’s already made here,” said Andrew getting out of his chair and heading for the kitchen cabinet to grab a couple of mugs. “And it’s free,” he added. A moment later the three of them were comfortably ensconced around the table enjoying the warmth of the room and the rejuvenating power of the coffee.
“How’s the arm mom?” asked Randy.
“Way better,” said Rose. “Practically doesn’t hurt at all any more. It still aches a bit most evenings, but once I lie down it’s OK so at least I can sleep.”
“Which is good for me,” said Andrew, “because it also means I can sleep.”
“Nice,” said Randy. “I believe that the number one cause of marital stress is a lack of sleep.”
Rose nodded. “You’re probably right,” she agreed. “Speaking of which, how are things at your house? Jackie’s feeling good? Not too much with the morning sickness and all that?”
“It’s been pretty good,” said Randy. “Better than when she was pregnant with Allison. Jackie’s figured out that it helps if she doesn’t let the cravings get the best of her at night. As long as she lays off the pickles and ice cream at night she feels pretty good in the morning.”
There was a momentary lull in the conversation.
“What’s new in the paper?” asked Randy after a short pause.
Andrew shrugged. “I’m glad I’m not a hog farmer,” he said. “But I’m not thrilled to be a cattle rancher.” He paused. “And I have been doing some serious thinking,” he said, the tone of his voice reflecting the statement.
Randy took a sip of coffee. “Is this the place where if I was standing up you’d say ‘have a seat Randy?’”
Andrew laughed. “Yeah, have a seat Randy,” he said.
“Have you been aware of this development Mom? Your husband taking up thinking I mean?” Randy grinned at his mother.
“It’s not the first time,” said Rose smiling back at him. “It’s happened a few times over the years and it’s always worked out good. But he hasn’t told me what he’s thinking this time so I’m all ears.” She stopped, and she and Randy looked expectantly at Andrew, who made them wait through an increasingly pregnant pause.
“Sheep,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about sheep.”
“Whoa there cowboy.” Randy sounded unsure as to whether to take his father seriously. “Them’s fightin’ words, Pa. Cowboys and sheep herders don’t mix!”
“‘Shepherds’ is the correct term, I believe,” said Rose.
“I prefer sheep herders,” said Randy. “Shepherd sounds so Old Testament.”
“Some cowboy you are anyway,” said Andrew. “You haven’t been on a horse since probably the last century.”
“I’m more of a four-wheeler cowboy,” said Randy, “but I’m still a cowboy. Are you serious? Sheep?”
Andrew nodded. “I’m serious,” he said. I’m beginning to think it’s just not wise to have all your eggs in one basket. Unless you’re an egg producer of course. Look at hog farmers. They’re all wishing they had some other way to generate profits until the pork industry picks up. And beef is only a little better than that. So why not?”
“I’m sure I’ll think of some good reasons why not,” said Randy. “Just give me a little time.”
“Think about it then,” said Andrew. “I’m not planning to buy a flock tomorrow.” There was a buzzing noise under the table and Randy jumped up pulling his cellphone from his pocket.
“Jackie’s up,” he said. “I gotta head back. Thanks for the coffee.”
“You’re welcome,” said Andrew. “And think about it.”
“Oh I will, believe me,” said Randy. When Randy was gone Andrew turned
back to Rose. “So,” he said. “What do you think?”
“Oh, you know me,” said Rose. “I just go with the flow.”
Don’t miss Rollin Penner and the Travelling Medicine Show performing
at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival in the spring.