A different time and place
Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I hope you know how much enjoyment I get out of writing this column and hearing from you.
I want to be relevant and write about those subjects that concern me and us. Sometimes that results in a column about a political or serious subject. Although I try not to foist my opinion upon you as if it is superior to yours, my passions are sometimes evident.
I care strongly and deeply for my country. By the grace of God, I was born to good parents and in a place that offered so much fun and freedom. It was also a much simpler time and that country raising and all those surrounding circumstances present many stories about which to write.
I have found that those innocent recollections are some of your favorite columns. Considering today’s complications and challenges those days seem almost unbelievable. The trust that we had in our systems and the faith that we had in God and country seem so far away. I’m thinking about the title of the Margaret Mitchell classic, “Gone with the Wind.”
What would young people think if they encountered some of those yesterdays? I wonder what kind of questions my grandson might ask me if he saw some of the things I saw regularly.
If he saw a car pass by and the windows were rolled down and fishing poles were sticking out the back window, I wonder if he would just look or would he ask, “Grandpa, what are those sticks doing hanging out the back window?”
“Those are fishing poles, Cam, and they are going down to the creek,” I might answer.
Those fishing poles in those cars would set my mind a-running. Barefoot, I would go out to the barn and pull up that old, rusty sheet of tin or a rotting old watering trough and dig some worms for fish bait. With great faith, I would take off down the lane to my favorite fishing pond.
Just in that one paragraph I just wrote there are many mysteries for a young 3-year-old like Cam. First all, there would be the word, barefoot. I understand everyone knows about going barefoot around the house after the bath or early in the morning rising from the bed.
But, going barefoot outside, in the springtime was so much fun. After wearing jackets and putting up with the cold of winter, let the sun come out and warm the earth. Let the buds begin to appear on the trees. Let the fields begin to be plowed and turned and barefootin’ was something that just had to be done.
I can remember going to school with tennis shoes on and wearing them all day, but riding the bus home and getting near, somehow, led to those tennis shoes being pulled off and bare feet hitting the ground off the bus. It always made me run just a little faster.
Then there was the barn where the corn crib was and one of the hog pens. Cam might see a picture of a pretty, red barn and I think I might have given him a farm set with a plastic barn. Our old barn was not red and it wasn’t all that sturdy in places. It was quite dirty and the possibilities of wasp nests and rat snakes were most favorable. I was scared of both for good reasons.
Somewhere around the old barn there had to be a piece of tin that had blown off the lean-to or had not been used to fix a hog hole. In addition there would have been some old posts or planks that were half rotten. Pick up either of them and you’d find some small red wigglers. If you were real fortunate, you might find a few pretty good-sized pond worms.
All it took to dig them out was an old pitchfork. I forgot to add a pitchfork into the aforementioned paragraph. I doubt I could explain a pitchfork to young Cam. But it was good for digging fish bait. After digging them, put them in the pork and beans can that just happened to be handy.
Let me see now. I’ve mentioned barefootin’, the barn, the covering of the worms, whether a sheet of tin or an old, rotten plank, a pitchfork, and a pork and beans can for the bait. What else would Cam have a hard time understanding?
I said I would take a walk down the lane. “What’s a lane, Grandpa?” Cam might ask.
Well it’s almost like a road, but it’s not paved and it’s usually got a couple of ruts.
“What’s a rut?” he asks.
“That’s where wheels roll. It’s all cleared out and in between the two places where the wheels roll is usually grass growing, especially in the spring.” I would answer. “And it’s a way to get somewhere.”
The lane I would remember was quite a busy thoroughfare on our farm. Sometimes it would get in such bad shape that it would need the work of one of those big, yellow, county road scrapers. Those were the days when you could ask the county commissioner for a favor, like scraping your lane. That’s another one of those things gone with the wind.
At the end of the lane was the favorite fishing pond. It might have been an acre in size, but it was much larger than that in fun. There were no blackberries of the electronic kind, no game-boys and no four-wheelers. Just a lazy afternoon, a can of fish bait, a cane pole and barefoot boy.
I hope you can see why I care deeply and strongly about my country. I miss it and I want it back. I want my grandson to know about it. Am I going to have to write about it or will he ever know it for himself?