Whenever we have one of those warm, lazy summer days, I sometimes think back to a quieter time when life seemed so much simpler than the hectic world we live in today. In my childhood days we didn’t have all the technology we have at our fingertips today. Most, if not all, of our entertainment was created by us kids, on our own and without structure. I really do believe that our generation, for the most part, turned out pretty darned good.
I recall many warm July nights when I would sleep on sheets on the living room floor because it was way too hot upstairs in my bedroom. Our air conditioner was a window, but we did have one small fan which my mother used for her beauty shop during the day. I can remember lying in bed at night listening to the crickets chirping just outside the window and wishing for just a breath of a breeze to find its way through the window screen.
As kids we would be fascinated by fireflies or, as we called them, lightning bugs. I remember chasing them around the yard on a hot summers night; to a kid they were indeed a marvel to behold. Even today when I spot one I consider it one of God’s gifts to nature. I haven’t seen much of those little rascals lately and I actually have to pause and wonder if all the spraying for mosquitoes that we do in the city hasn’t had an effect on other insects.
As the fair approaches I sometimes think of my boyhood friend Pat Smith and the fun times that we would have in the summer, especially those leading up to and including the fair. I have written before about riding with him on his pony “Scout” which was one critter that I suspect was put on this earth to torment me. Scout was a Welsh pony so it was somewhere in size between a pony and a full grown horse. The horse was a pinto and actually a very attractive animal; like the old saying goes “beauty is only skin deep” and this horse seemed destined to prove that to me.
I had at different times tried to warm up to the horse by petting it and scratching it behind the ears, which was what my dad told me horses as well as dogs always seemed to like. Whenever I tried it on Scout, he would usually bite me or give me a head butt. I eventually got used to the fact that when we were going anywhere on that horse I had better plan on ending up on the ground. I told Pat I didn’t think the horse liked riding double, but he just told me that I shouldn’t let the horse know that I was scared. I don’t believe he sensed me being scared as much as I sensed him being just plain mean. After all this I survived our adventures and eventually almost grew to enjoy the challenge.
There were some summer days we would walk to the fairgrounds from my house, which wasn’t really all that far. On one of those hot summer days we were walking across Vern Torgeson’s freshly cut hay field, which was right by the slough, when we encountered frogs and grasshoppers everywhere. I don’t know why this particular day stuck with me; maybe it was the fact it was extremely hot or that I had never seen that many of each species gathered together in the one place.
Each summer when I was a kid I would spend a week or two at my cousin Richard’s folks’ farm west of Emmons. I loved it at the farm once I got over the initial “homesick blues” I would usually get on the first night. We’d play in the hay loft, fish and swim in the “crick” that ran right through the farm and I would even get to help Richard clean the calf pens. I thought this was a great time and told him so, but he thought I was a little bit nuts to like the work he had to do on a regular basis. Those were fun times and when Richard’s dad finished milking the cows each morning he would rinse out the milking machine, feed the cats and use the rest to make slop to feed the hogs. Those were the days when farmers might plant 180 acres and raise their own cows, hogs, and chickens along with planting a large garden. You just don’t see that much anymore as one by one the small farmers have been bought out by larger ones.
I still think back of those simple times and the fun that I had spending summers on the farm or just doing simple things with friends. One thing that most kids today miss out on is doing things spontaneously. Instead they have their “free time” mapped out for them. It would be nice if we could get back to just letting kids be kids.
Please take a little time to make a few summer memories by sharing time in the outdoors with family. Summer is a great time to get away from all your electronics and make your own outdoors adventure.
Please take some time to honor those that have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.