I had a really neat childhood. My brothers and I went to school in the city, but nearly every weekend, plus holidays and summers, were spent on our beloved grandparents' farm. In the city, I learned to be quite the little lady. But, on the farm, I could just BE. So, I had the best of both worlds.

It's those summers I've been flashing back to lately. I have NO idea why! Maybe, I'm worn out. Maybe, it's one of those, "Stop the world, I wanna get off," things. Maybe we just work too damn hard, and forget to relax and enjoy. Or, maybe we're not ALLOWED to relax and enjoy anymore.

Now, I know everyone didn't get to spend childhood summers in the country. But, I wonder how many people remember things like this ...

Waking up, just past dawn, to the cool, morning breeze gently lifting the white, "summer curtains" in the bedroom, listening to the quail give their "Bob White!" call, then heading to the kitchen to gobble the cold oats (not oatmeal – slow-cooked OATS) left for us by Pappy Lee (our grandfather) when he went to the barn to feed the animals.

Or, on days when we woke up early, having Pappy make us buckwheat pancakes, topped with pure butter and homemade sorghum syrup, made as only he could make it.

Racing to the barn behind him, dogs at our heels, to help "feed," jostling each other to see who got to prime the water pump and to check on any new arrivals, and see if the bull snake, kept for controlling the mouse population, had shed its skin. Then back to the hen house to gather eggs.

And, maybe watch Pappy kill and dress a hen, carefully removing any unlaid eggs, to be boiled up with the chicken and homemade noodles for supper (called "dinner" in the city) that evening.

Helping Nonny (our grandmother) bake fresh fruit pies "from scratch," – using LARD - while the morning was still cool enough to turn the oven on - where the left-over dough was shaped with a chicken shaped cookie cutter, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, with a "red-hot" for an eye, and baked to make the very BEST cookies in the entire world.

Lying in the grass, watching cumulus clouds lazily making perfect shapes of animals and other objects as they floated by. Or, hiding out under the young Weeping Willow tree, staring up at the leaves, and fantasizing what life would be like when we "grew up."

Running through the orchard, picking fruit off the trees, wiping it off on our clothes, and eating it on the spot, without concern for washing off any pesticides. Or, snatching strawberries from the patch, or grapes from the vines as we passed by, and it was okay to do that.

Picking flowers from the flower beds, taking them to the house, and washing the ants off them in the sink before sticking them into a Ball fruit jar, where they presided over the kitchen table with the oil cloth cover, and the ol' mean cat that would reach out from another chair, and swat our bare, brown legs with her claws extended, if we dared to sit down without looking.

Swinging on the tire swing, hung from the huge, old Cottonwood tree in the barn yard, that lightning struck at least once every year.

Riding the Indian Paint ponies, whooping like little savages – bareback – racing the trains on the tracks out behind the farm along the full length of the property, with the engineers waving to us all the way across.

Telling my brothers they'd better not chew that gum without asking, and laughing so hard when they did it anyway, and found out later it was Ex-Lax.

"Going to town" on Sunday mornings to the Sunday School that taught us to sing "Jesus Loves Me" and "God is Love." And, to the church service afterward, and on Wednesday evenings, where the pastor preached hellfire and damnation.

And, showing up for Vacation Bible School every day for two weeks in the summer. And, the "Ice Cream Social" at the end, with homemade ice cream being cranked in a churn, and sugar cookies with colored sugar sprinkles, to celebrate our latest "graduation."

Hot afternoons reading books like, "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn." Or, reading and living the Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Reddy Fox, Buster Beaver or Tommy Titmouse. Or, learning new words by doing, "It Pays to Increase Your Word Power" in Reader's Digest.

Working in the garden, helping pick vegetables that would be carried to the house and used for supper, or be cleaned for "putting up" - to be used when wintertime came.

Shelling peas, or removing the ends of snap beans, while sitting on the old glider out on the screened-in porch, with Nonny telling us stories about life back in the "olden days."

Or, maybe sitting with a card table in front of that same ol' glider playing Canasta with Nonny, and always believing she cheated.

Drying dishes that Nonny washed in a big metal pan in the sink, while Pappy Lee sat in the kitchen, next to his radio, listening to a baseball game – or, listening to us, because he cared about what we had to say.

Heading to the pond with Pappy after supper to fish, watch the dragonflies, listen to the circada, and maybe even catch a turtle on the line, big enough to make turtle soup.

Catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar, with holes punched in the lid, to see if we could get enough to read by.

Watching Nonny and Pappy play Bridge on Friday evenings with Mr. and Miz Roberts, and all four of them smoking cigarettes, and drinking iced tea, loaded with sugar and fresh mint (which they shared with us), and nobody worrying about second-hand smoke or making the kids hyper-active.

And, being fascinated by how Mr. Roberts could keep his cigarette in his mouth while he played Bridge, and talk around it, and grow a two-inch ash, and still get it to the club-, or diamond-, or heart-, or spade-shaped ashtray before it fell.

Going to sleep at night, after a bath with Ivory soap, kneeling beside the bed, reciting, "Now, I lay me down to sleep ... ," listening to the lonely, quiet, wonderful sound of a train as it whistled its warning way up at the crossroads, and waiting for it to pass.

And, listening to the bull frogs over at the pond. And, smelling the foot-wide white flowers, that bloomed at night, on the Moon Vine outside the window. And, lying there facing that window, with just a thin cotton cover, watching a bazillion stars twinkle, as if inviting us to reach out and touch them, and holding us in awe of the universe. And, feeling so very safe ...

And, we were.


* dr. jl scott is the Founder of the International Council of Online Professionals (iCop™) http://www.i-cop.org - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit: http://www.OnlineBusinessTradeJournal.com

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rrossbauer's picture

Sounds much like the place where I grew up

Maybe it was more than just the place, jl - how many of us older folk remember those less complicated times and how much pleasure we got from the simple things - wow, lightnin' bugs - just as dusk started to settle in, you really struck a cord. Thanks for the memory jogger.

RichardP, sharing safe family fun stuff at www.richardpresents.com

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* dr. jl scott is the Founder of Chamber of Commerce - on the Web™ http://www.ChamberofCommerce-ontheWeb.com - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit: http://www.OnlineBusinessTradeJournal.com

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