Despair

This city boy became acquainted with working in the woods while living in coastal Maine. Specifically with cutting wood for the woodstove in my in-law’s living room. I had been a Boy Scout, so I was familiar with saw and hatchet. But gathering wood for a scouts campfire or cookout was the limit of my exposure. The cottage had expensive propane heat, and that was why I found myself in the woods with Lyman learning about widowmakers and chainsaws. The actual cost of a cord of wood in those days was pretty cheap, but there was a large family woodlot that wasn’t being thinned, and the wily Cap’n saw a way to thin the lot, and get some work out of his “lazy” son in law.
What was in it for Lyman? A garrulous former bosun mate alone most of the days on his lobster boat or in his shop? Someone to talk with, eat Beer Nuts with, and gossip. Before the woodcutting, I had always seen the quiet, reserved side of Lyman. Once in his shop, sitting around the woodstove, the former Navy bosun came to the fore. Sea stories from cruises to the “Med,” misspent liberties in France and all the scoop on his neighbors. All this and more spilled forth before the fire and the ever full bowl of those tasty sweet salted nuts. This routine became daily.
On a Monday, I arrived at the shop to find that Lyman was not there. I walked up to the house and into the middle of a family feud. Lyman’s wife, May, was throwing an entire jar of the nuts into the trash. Lyman was bent over, clutching his stomach but complaining loudly. “It was that three-alarm chili that did it!” she replied, ” Maybe, but an entire jar of these nuts didn’t help.
Lyman moaned, ” What’s wrong with me? It’s the worst upset stomach I’ve had since those damn clams in Boston.” May turned to him, sadly sighed, and said, “it’s the worst case of a borborygmus intestine I’ve ever seen.” Being that Mary was a nurse, Lyman took her health pronunciations as gospel truth. At that point, Lyman’s stomach let loose with a chorus of loud groans and grumbles; with great apprehension, he looked a May and asked, “WILL I RECOVER??!!!” May all business-like replied, “bland diet – three days. No more beer, no more nuts.” Lyman let loose with another groan, this time one of despair. I quietly retreated, not wanting to witness his humiliation further.

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