No longer as nimble as I once was, I employ the services of Metia Dryer, a Smith Valley High School senior. Her school schedule will allow her to work Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-4 p.m. (I need all the help I can get around the yard these days.)
But how does one speak to someone who is 17, I wonder, when I don’t even subscribe to Facebook? It occurs to me to make lists of what needs to be done.
The first list asks Metia to make water basins around the rose bushes, adjust lawn sprinklers, spray for weeds, and repair irrigation tubing that has been gnawed beyond recognition by rabbits. Into this mix, I ask her to plant an awesome number of bedding plants. Within the week, the pesky little rabbits have devoured most of the flowers.
I also endeavor to be a little peppier when Metia arrives and reads the list for the day. I notice she sometimes tries to stifles a yawn as I plow through the list. Overall, our relationship is a good one.
Her strong qualities include asking questions when she is in doubt and acting on her own initiative. For instance, I advise her to use a hand truck to move three colossal-sized pots to our front porch. When I check on how everything is going, she is carrying a pot in her arms. She sheepishly explains, “It’s just easier this way.” I grumble replying, “show off.”
I frequently ask about her life as a high school senior. She tells me, “The DJ at the Prom played weird music, but it was in the Community Hall and that was cool and, this year, the governor has allowed us to have the Senior Bonfire.”
“Are going on a senior trip?” I ask. With great eagerness she replies, “Yes, four of us are going to camp out for two nights high on a mountain, 60 miles north of Quincy. There is no cellphone reception, so we’ll probably come down to Quincy to get our messages,” she says. (I blanch, recalling my days with a compass, trail map, and backpack.)
One day Metia arrives in a new truck. Orllyene and I ask for an inspection. It has a carpetless interior and will fit in perfectly with her degree in range management from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Of course, we attend Metia’s graduation ceremony, where I discover she is a whiz in all areas. She received seven scholarships worth a potfull of tuition fee monies, was in charge of the school nursery, and played multiple sports and earned her varsity letter.
Two days later, Orllyene and I attend a brunch celebrating Metia’s graduation. It was a happy, poignant affair, filled with family and school friends. Orllyene asks Metia to thank her mother for sending us an invitation to the brunch. “I sent you that invitation, not my Mom,” Metia says emphatically.
What a joy for us to be included in Metia’s life, even if only for a little while. That means a lot to vintage folks like Orllyene and me.
Ron Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org