APPLE SEEDS:  Whose crib is it anyway?

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APPLE SEEDS:  Whose crib is it anyway?



Some pretty intense weather hit our region this past week.  Power outages abounded throughout the region, including our homestead tucked along the border of Quinte West and Belleville.

One thing I noticed immediately…  SILENCE. 

There was no pervasive hum; a hum I don’t even notice until it isn’t there.  Except for the fridge that decides to talk to us in the night once in a while.  I notice that!

My daughter immediately queried, “What do we do now?”   It may be my perception, but doesn’t the power usually go out at night, when it is dark?  We set up our cell phones as alarm clocks and go to bed, hoping that we will be able to shower and make coffee in the morning.

But it was late afternoon on a Sunday with lots of natural light left.  So break out the cards and the cribbage board. 

I snapped to attention when I heard the incredulous, “How do you play?”  Was I that remissive in teaching certain crucial life skills to my children? I was sure I had introduced the game and she had just forgotten. 

Either way, we needed to rectify the situation immediately.

Cribbage, or widely known as just plain “Crib” is said to have been created in the early 1600s by an English poet, Sir John Suckling (store that tidbit for future trivia challenges)

The game hones your math skills and teaches the power of planning and executing.  Crib has all kinds of interesting pieces of phraseology that I, as my father before me, listened to and learned.

  • Score of 19…  Since scores range from 0 to 29 sounds good - but not so much.   What it really means is a big zero – nineteen being one score it is impossible to achieve.
  • Muggins… Optional rule that is cut-throat.  If you don’t count all of your points, your opponent enthusiastically calls “Muggins” and steals the overlooked points. 
  • Skunk… Not just something that you try not to hit on the road.  You have soundly thrashed your opponent by at least 30 points. (Wrinkling of the nose when asking “do you smell something” is a completely appropriate action upon achievement)

As I proceeded to run through the rules -- how to count (MUST be counted in order, 15s, then pairs, then runs – there is a procedure that CANNOT be muddied) tricks to use for pegging -- I knew, without a doubt, I had a job to do.   The tradition of cribbage matches throughout the generations must continue.

As long as I can remember ‘crib’ was a part of our family life.  Living and working on an apple farm allowed my parents to have lunch together almost daily.  Joining them were the two women who worked in our packing room.  Every day, for years, the four of them would sit around the kitchen table, with good natured teasing part of the daily routine.

What I didn’t understand is why my beloved father was partnered with Jean, not my mother.   I was worried, but even at that tender age, too embarrassed to ask.  (Could be why I now have a burning desire to know why and often, why not – which is disputably an endearing or irritating little character trait)

It was later I realized that not partnering with your spouse in any competition, not the least of which is card playing, was commonplace and sometimes necessary, not the other way around.  

Teaching of the game became the paternal responsibility.  It is often debated whether, as a parent, you should allow your children to enjoy the thrill of success, while shielding them as long as possible from the pains of defeat. 

This debate never took place in our household.  My father painstakingly taught us how to shuffle cards with a flair, play cribbage with determination and strategy, and above all, celebrate your wins with aplomb and when appropriate, some in-your-face jubilation. 

The wrinkling of the nose thing, you may have deduced I learned from him. 

Thanks to Mother Nature, the crib board has remained on the table, cards and pegs at the ready and is at the top of my list of things to do when the power goes out. 

And the next time you hear, “Whose crib is it anyway?” I hope it is old-school, and a wooden board is the focus of your attention, not an urban apartment somewhere.

Read More: Opinion, Apple Seeds

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