Dot is an outspoken, honest, hard -working, and caring woman. She’s had her share of disappointments in life, yet she lives life with humor, courage and dignity. She has a lot to share, including the people she calls friends. I value her friendship, and theirs, beyond measure.
This morning when I let the dogs out the door it felt like a perfect fall day, crisp, with just enough chill in the air to remind me winter is on its way. I think about the cord of wood delivered earlier this week, sitting next to the woodshed, waiting to be split, and decide today is as good a time as any to start. I get the axe out of the garage and go to the stump used for splitting wood. I set the first piece of wood on it, g and on the first blow the axe handle breaks right where it goes into the head. It seems as if I need a new axe. I decide to head into to town to get another axe thinking I’ll stop first at Dot’s for morning coffee and conversation.
Once in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil I tell Dot about my axe handle and ask can it be repaired or do I just buy a whole new axe?
“Get over to Bump’s, he hangs axes”, Dot says, mentioning Ralph Bump, the man I recently met in her living room where she was trimming his hair and sizeable goatee. Hang an axe?I say, What does that mean?
Dot replies,” it jess means putting a new wood handle on the tool. Bumps famous forhanging axes, hammers, shovels, anything that needs a new wooden handle. Makes them himself. You’re in for a treat when you go down there. He lives off Perch Pond Road. When you see the little covered bridge, that’s Bump Bridge. Cross over and go on down till you see his place a little way down on the right.”
Next morning, the axe head beside me, I set off for Bump’s. When I see a miniature covered bridge I follow the road over the bridge to a small house covered in weathered grey shingles. An old washing machine with a manual ringer leans against the side of the house. Chickens, ducks, and goats wander in and out of the open front door. Bump is nowhere in sight.
In the distance I hear a tractor and walk in the direction of the noise, waving my arms to catch the driver’s eyes.
The tractor heads in my direction, and it is Mr. Bump. Broke the handle on my axe and Dot says you can fix it.
Bump says, “Yup” and walks in the direction of the house shooing the chickens and ducks out of the walkway, coaxing the goats from the doorway allowing us to enter the house.
Light from the windows in this one room house filters through a lifetime of dirt and dust. A scarred wooden table with two chairs sits under one window. A single bed with only a crumpled blanket is pushed against a wall. The third wall holds a pitted white enamel sink over flowing with dirty dinnerware sharing the wall with a small, low slung, black iron stove, its pipe out through the roof.
Circling the ceiling are hooks holding wooden handles of various lengths and shapes. Bump points at them saying, “I make them to hang axes, shovels, anything that needs a new handle. Set your axe on the table and come back in a few days, it’ll be as good as new.”
I go over to get my axe, a few days later, and notice Bump has been freshly barbered. Bump, seeing my look of approval, says, “Went to Dot’s to get barbered before my trip over to Vermont”. What’s up in Vermont, I ask.
Bump’s eyes dance with mischief as he points to his short-legged stove and says with a big smile ,”I’m fixing to drive over to Vermont to get me a short-legged woman before the snow flies!