It’s kinda funny. I’m really not THAT old. I’m just 34. Well, nearly 35. In December. But did you know that when I was little, we had a party line telephone? Do some of you even know what that is? It’s when you had to share your home telephone line with all the people on your road, so when you picked up, someone might be talking, and you could listen in on their conversations. Or you might have to say , “Aunt Lorene! Get off the phone, I have to call someone!” We had rotary dial.One just like the picture on top of this page. I can still remember our old number from the house where we were growing up. And NOT cordless, are you joking??? What WAS THAT?? NO. You wrapped the cord around your hands while you propped up in the corner, and talked or stirred your spaghetti on the stove. And when you left the house , if the phone rang, it just rang. You weren’t home, so people just called back later. There was none of this , “Well, call their cell phone.” People weren’t having conversations on the phone inside of the store, or a restaurant, or the doctor’s office. You didn’t go to the neighbors to visit and have people ringing your phone . You could visit with people and not hear rap songs , and country music going off everywhere. You didn’t see people walking around like zombies with their heads down shuffling. No eye contact as if everyone and everything were invisible around them. This was 20 some odd years ago, and it bothers me. It really does. When did these 5×7 boxes become so important? I have one I admit. But I don’t take it with me everywhere. I don’t leave it on in public places. It makes certain people mad in my life, because they can’t get ahold of me. But I just don’t like the whole idea of it. Makes me feel like as my Daddy says ,”I have a tracking DEE-Vice on me.” But seriously , it’s a tool. People are supposed to be important. But it’s supposed to be the PERSON you are in FRONT of at THE MOMENT , not the one ringing you in your pocket.
Ending of spring and coming of the summer here in southern Arkansas. I used to love this time of year.(Now to give you an idea of the area where we live and how rural it is, I didn’t realize this, at the time, when I was growing up in the 1980’s , 90’s , that our area really ran about 30 years culturally behind from everywhere else. Now with the availability of the internet , and all, and everyone pretty much having it , we are maybe only 5 years behind , but you get the idea. ) When I was a kid, we had a party line telephone way longer than anyone else. We walked where we went, or biked, or rode our horses. I had two girlfriends that lived 2 miles down the road from me one way, and two boy “friends” who lived down the road two miles the other direction, and we spent every minute of every summer together. We tore down the road screaming at the top our lungs to the river just a hop skip and a jump from any of our houses, and spent our days getting so burned, mosquito bitten and water logged, that we couldn’t wait to do it again the next day. We didn’t have cell phones for our parents to call, or to call our other friends. We stayed gone from daylight til dark, and as far as I know , don’t guess our parents worried about anybody carryin’ us off. When we needed spare spending money , we earned it by helping one another’s Grandparents , hauling hay into the back of old Chevys , drinking ice cold cokes out of the beat up cooler Uncle Cecil threw in the back. Or working for Granny Jo, standing barefooted in the garden picking green beans until our fingers were just as green as the beans themselves. Shucking corn, covering ourselves in the silk of those golden rods like some kind of Central American princesses with tangled woven necklaces, we ‘d throw ourselves up in the hay loft when we were through, and work out our plans for the next day. The boys would walk home to their house, and if we had the strength we’d go into bed, and if we didn’t we’d just sleep in the loft. You don’t know at the time that it is the magic time of your life, that gilt – dipped year that you can never get back. Or maybe you do, and you are just too afraid to speak of it. I got my first “real ” job not long after that, when I was 13. Waitressing. I met people from other places. “Real ” towns. Big towns. I heard that tone in their voice when they heard my accent. I didn’t realize at the time that it was condescension. That they thought I was just a hillbilly. A redneck child who knew no better than to think that my world was all there was. But now that I know, I am not angry. I only feel sorry that they feel that their life IS all that matters. That they will never know the feel of fresh tilled garden dirt underneath their feet. Or the joy of ice cold river water on hay-burnt , mosquito-bitten skin. I wouldn’t trade my corner of the world for theirs, or the way it was back then, for anything.
I need the feel of the warm sunshine on my face. The sound of the birds , waking up to find their own breakfasts. The smell of the tomatoes in the garden , after the rain. I visited our biggest city for a doctor’s visit, yesterday. We were early so we toured the grounds, and found the outdoor garden with the waterfall and pond. There were trees and birds. But , in the background, steady, was the sound of a metropolis. The car horns, the people talking, sirens, and over it all the constant , rushing drone of traffic. I felt bad that even that the small bit of nature there was overwhelmed with such a large amount of noise. I understand that there are people who love the hustle and bustle of a big city. The choices of restaurants, shops, and modern conveniences is a huge draw, I’m sure. But to be so far from the earth, with cement and glass all around? I have to say , I find it extremely unsettling. I can’t imagine living my daily life in a place like that. It all seems too sterile somehow. It’s as if there is a surplus of people , but a deficit of humanity. I was grateful to get back to my little house in the “sticks”. To walk barefoot in the grass again.
This happened last summer, and was too funny not to share!
Now at first I have to explain, and it won’t sound funny, but it will when you get to the end, so be patient, please! We live out in the country, and we keep chickens. Nothing fancy , just a bunch of this-n-that breeds, but they do lay eggs and are fun to watch. They are really my boys’ responsibility. You know, the whole “chores-work-real life experience” thing. We turn them out every day so that they can “graze”. Now, I don’t know if any of you know anything about chickens, but I’m here to tell you, Chickens. Are . Stupid. They do not even have the sense to get out of the road, when a truck is coming, and we have lost several of them that way. Truck + chicken = not pretty ( I actually saw this happen in real time once, and it was like watching a feather pillow explode.) But , I’ll go you one better! Here comes the funny part. The highway department comes every summer and bushhogs (mows) the ditches. That was what was happening that day. I didn’t think anything of it, until my youngest son comes in and says,”Momma! Momma! The highway department man bushhogged a chicken!” (Okay. That was the part that was not going to SEEM funny, lol) Denim was very perturbed! I told him I was very sorry, but that there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. A few hours later , he took the trash out to the curb, and came back in with a very sheepish look. “Momma, the man did not bushhog a chicken…………..it was a white plastic grocery sack.” I laughed, and laughed!
Here’s to the lowly Gallus Domesticus ( Latin for poor dumb chicken, lol)