Where there are goats, there's trouble [captionpix…
Aunt Stef’s Mothers Day Present
Now that’s love!
[captionpix imgsrc=”http://blog.cleanslatefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/piglet.jpg” captiontext=”Hrenk!”]
My Aunt Stef was the one person I could rely on to pull me from the fire whenever I got into trouble. Any heavy-duty injury warranted a stop at her house so she could perform triage and make the call to my mother explaining that I was okay but…. She rapidly became my favorite Aunt.
Her husband, my Uncle Bob, was my favorite Uncle as well. Like my father, Uncle Bob was employed at the steel mill a few miles away. He worked in the rolling mill were molten steel was poured into blinding, white-hot ingots, which were passed through a succession of rollers that squeezed the metal into large plates or bars of steel. It was hard work and in the summer the heat in the mill was almost unbearable. He requested to be placed on permanent third shift, 4 p.m. to midnight, so the outside temperature would be cooler as he left work and he could garden during the day.
Often on his way home he would stop in at the local watering hole, Gruno’s Bar and Grille. There, he would have a few ice-cold beers to help his body temperature return to normal. Other men on his shift frequented Gruno’s as well, and a certain amount of “horse trading” always took place.
Close to Mother’s Day one year back in the late 1960s, Uncle Bob must have been feeling particularly indebted to Aunt Stef for her maternal skills. In an unusual stroke of good fortune, the perfect Mother’s Day gift presented itself in an early morning bartering session. “Yes,” he thought, “this was the ideal gift. Stefka will love this.”
It was about three in the morning when Uncle Bob arrived home. The neighborhood was asleep, the only light coming from the street light down the road. He backed the car into the driveway, got out, opened the back door, and reached in to get Aunt Stef’s present, which he was sure she was going to love. He walked up the short pathway to the house and opened the door. A dim nightlight greeted him as he stepped in the house. He tiptoed into the bedroom were my Aunt lay sleeping.
Gift under one arm the other gently shaking his wife’s shoulder he whispered,”Stefka.” Shake, shake. “Stefka, wake up. I have a present for you.”
Still half asleep she rolled over and mumbled, “Bob, get to bed! I’ll see it in the morning.” As she tugged at the blankets he placed her present on the bed next to her. It was at that moment the gift uttered its first soft noises. “Hrenk, hrenk.”
“For crying out loud Bob, what do you want?” Another comment from the gift — “hrenk.” Uncle Bob stood smiling, proud as a new father.
Aunt Stef rolled over again and as she reached across the bed to turn on the light her arm came to rest on the gift. The light came on and Stefka blinked herself awake nose to nose with a three-week old piglet. “Hrenk,” said the little pink piglet.
I first heard my mother and father hastily getting dressed and mumbling something about the racket coming from down the street. Then I heard it as well; there was a lot of shouting coming for this time of night. I looked out the window and saw lights at other houses being flicked on, several neighbors ran out in pajamas and robes to come to the aid of whoever was being attacked.
I threw my clothes on and arrived outdoors just in time to see the silhouette of a tiny piglet run at high-speed across the road toward Uncle Steve’s house. Old Sago hobbled into view brandishing his shotgun. Uncle Steve came running from his house ad began chasing the piglet, which was just out of his reach, their silhouettes headed back across the street.
The piglet and Uncle Bob had just made it out of the front door ahead of Aunt Stef. “Geesis Stefka, the pig is loose,” Uncle Bob yelled. Her reply wasn’t what he was expecting.
Uncle Bob was now behind Uncle Steve calling to him, “Steve, catch him, catch him! Don’t let him get into the field or he’s gone!” The piglet criss-crossed the road several more times, gathering pursuers with each passage. The high speed Conga-line now consisted of silhouettes of a squealing piglet, Uncle Steve, Uncle Bob, Aunt Stef, and Mr. Sago. The next pass included what looked to be Mr. Teft. Everyone was flashing by one after the other under the illumination of the streetlight, first left to right – then right to left. My two cousins were now dancing in the front yard screaming with delight, “Mom got a pig! Mom got a pig!”
How the aging Mr. Sago summoned up the energy to make a leap at the piglet as it streaked by I’ll never know. Somehow he managed to land close enough to grab a leg as it began its trip back across the road to pick up more participants. “WHEEE, WHEEE, WHEEE, WHEEE,” wailed the little porker.
“Robert, if I catch you!” screamed Aunt Stef.
“Ima got, Ima got,” yelled Sago, liberally peppered with Italian profanity.
The neighborhood finally settled down, lights turning off as we made our way back to our beds. Uncle Bob wisely spent that, and several other nights, on the couch. The piglet spent the night at Mr. Sago’s house. The previous fall Mr. Sago had lost his goat in a hunting accident leaving plenty of room for the piglet. The accommodations suited the piglet just fine, as the noise and activity level were considerably less. The next day Aunt Stef formally gave the piglet to Mr. Sago where it lived the remainder of its days. It summered in the shade of the rickety veranda and wintered in a warm spot at the foot of Sago’s bed.