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It was 3:14 on Thursday afternoon and spoiling for a thunderstorm. I parked the truck at the top of the driveway outside our garage. There were groceries to unload and 30-pound bags dog food.

Earlier that afternoon, this old gumshoe had stopped at PetSmart then navigated the mysterious aisles at the new Wegmans in town. It was still sunny and mostly clear with a breeze picking up, the kind of day that begs a gal to look at the sky and not at her feet.

While ferrying the bags across our garage to the basement steps, I heard distinct clicks every time my left shoe hit the concrete floor. I figured my Teva treads had picked up some driveway gravel. So after unloading all the bags, pulling the truck into the garage, and closing the door, I released the Velcro strap and upended my shoe. Gravel all right, stuck in gum, bubblegum by color and smell.

Thunder rolled across the Rockfish Valley.

I step-clomped the bags into the dumb waiter, step-clomped up the stairs, step-clomped while putting the groceries away then step-clomped to my computer. “How to remove gum from shoes,” I typed into the Google search bar.

Results:

  1. Scrape gum off with a knife.
  2. Wash shoe with soap and water.
  3. Spray with WD-40, wait until gum hardens then scrape.
  4. Apply lighter fluid, nail polish remover, pain thinner, or peanut butter, wait then scrub.
  5. Push plastic bag into gum, put shoe in freezer. (Noted protests against comingling dirty shoes with frozen food.)
  6. Walk it off.
  7. Test gum sample against everyone’s DNA and make the world safe for gumshoes.

Just kidding about the last one, though one blogger did express rather forceful support for such an option. Children and Adults beware.

I went with number one then number four—nail polish remover because it was close at hand—then number one and two to be followed by drying and number six. Case closed except for the odor of acetone.

“What are those flowers I see blooming in the meadow?” Keith called from his desk up in the loft.

Another mystery.

Fleabane“I’m on it,” this old gumshoe replied. Step-clomp, step-clomp. I consulted the visual guide I’d complied after last summer’s meadow installation, so I didn’t weed out the wrong plants. “Fleabane, in the daisy family, an early white bloomer.”

“Pretty, aren’t they? By the way, when are we having dinner?”

“After I change my gumshoes for house slippers,” I said. “In the meantime, ‘if you want me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you…? You just put your lips together and blow.’”

(Lauren Bacall to Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not)

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