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COUNTRY RAMBLINS

by Tamara Hillman
August written in gold.

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I’m not lyin’ when I say I didn’t see it comin’—August, I mean! Lordy, where does time go? Not that I’ve been just layin’ about these sultry days of summer. I’ve been busier than a flea on a dog’s hind leg.
You see, I have two books coming out this fall, and my publisher has me proof-reading twenty pages at a time online, and also getting covers chosen, and pictures and wording right on both. I know folks think writing a book is nothing, but try it sometime. Writing it is the EASY part.
And if I didn’t have enough on my plate, I’m goin’ Hollywood with my own
website. Whew! I have a new found respect for folks who can build their own site. Being mostly computer illiterate, I had to hire help to get started, and it will take many more visits from this gal trying to be patient in teaching me what most young whippersnappers of six years already know. I was born to soon, I guess, and missed out on all this fancy electronic-age stuff. I can barely use my cell phone. And just when I learned how to run the VCR, they came out with CD players. HELP! My ol’ brain can’t take in all this information at the pace they keep inventing new toys!
OK, enough of my morning rant…Thanks for letting me blow off a little steam.

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Now, let’s reminisce about summertime awhile.
Ya know, there was a lot of pain in the early days of summer when I was a kid—like, tender feet needin’ to get hardened up after wearing those confining shoes nine months of the year to school. And skin that hadn’t seen sunshine for the same amount of time, so sunburns were inevitable in June. But soon freckles popped out, and dead skin was shed from your hide after a good burn, feet were toughened with new calluses, and you had the run of the fields. Ahhhhhh! We kids were in heaven.
I’m sure most of my readers remember stilts, rope or tire swings, skates you tightened with a key to your shoes, go-carts made from baby-buggy wheels and apple boxes, etc. By today’s standards, these things were crude to say the least, but Mom and Dad weren’t quick with a buck to buy us toys and expensive play things. Guess we were just lucky that way because it taught us how to be creative, and make our own fun. I wouldn’t trade being poor as a youngster to having a twenty dollar bill cross my palm every time I stuck my hand out like my grandkids do today! The poor little varmints are havin’ their growth and learning skills stifled!
I mentioned stilts in the previous paragraph because they bring back a lotta fond memories. Now, don’t think for one minute we had store-bought stilts. No sirree! But this was a job Dad got in on. Actually, I think he volunteered so we’d stay outta his tool box, and not use two by fours he was savin’ for some other project.
The day he built us one set of stilts, (to share without fighting over who’s turn it was, ha! ha!) was a rare occasion because Dad was a gypo logger with two trucks, a low-boy trailer, and a D-8 Cat to keep runnin’, new tires affixed, and steel treads adjusted when he wasn’t actually at work in the mountains. These chores took up 95% of his spare time at home. We saw him during meals only until the snows got too deep in winter months, and the woods were shut down to loggers.
But I digress……On this particular Saturday or Sunday, he had an hour to kill, and decided he’d show us how to build our own stilts.
Dad on StiltsHe took two 2X4s and cut them to equal lengths of about five feet, (we were little kids then, remember,) and then he cut to wedges that were almost triangles out of a scrap 4X4, and with some ten penny nails, he pounded the wedges about 18 inches up from the bottom to the two lengths of five-foot 2X4s. The nails went through the backsides of the boards, and that was his plan so he could pound the tail of the protruding nails over sideways to keep the wedges secured firmly—never to work their way out with use letting the foot rests break off, and one of us kids do a face-plant in the dirt or cement. (Getting bunged up was avoided at all costs because doctors cost money to fix broken bones, and put in multiple stitches.) Extra money, or health insurance we never had.
Those stilts worked like a top, and we had many hours of fun on them. We even shared with the neighbor kids who, of course, had no super-dooper, homemade stilts like the Dicus kids that summer. We were the hit of the neighborhood ‘til another kid would come up with something new to play with and share.
We never owned roller skates of our own, but the Knapp kids across the field let
us take turns using their one and only set, (they shared also with five sisters and brothers) down on their cement floor basement. Around and around we’d go between support-posts that held up the house. A few falls only brought a couple of bruises or scratched knees, and we thought that was just part of the learning process.
Such great lessons in fun we had sharing back and forth with all the farm kids around us. Whether it was a sled in winter, or stilts in summer, someone either had the REAL DEAL, or their dads had made something work. Talk about Jerry-rigging! (One dad turned an old hood off a monster Buick upside-down to use as a toboggan in winter. Wow! That was a wild ride off Cemetery Hill with no way to control the thing.
Being from a small town where most everyone was in the same boat—Poor as church mice, everyone, including the kids, bartered for what we wanted or needed. It was a way of life for folks to be kind, and share what little we had. American kids of our day were brought up to be respectful, and helpful to anyone who may need your attention or concern. That’s why those days are called, “The Good Ol’ Days!” They were…
We don’t need Obama, or anyone else to teach us how to “Share the wealth!” What wealth? The wealth is not measured in dollars and cents in this great nation, but in love of our fellow man. It’s as simple as that…

Here’s a poem I just now scribbled down for ya. Enjoy, and hang on to these wonderful days of summer, at least in your memories.
Granny Tam

HANG ON TO Hang on to Summer Summer

Sunshine in SummerFly away, fly away
soft summer days.
If only, if only,
you found ways to stay.

Spring has its virtues,
Fall has some too,
Winter is bitter,
but we still make it thru’.

Sunshine in SummerBut summer is pleasant,
it offers us much—
crops in the field,
gardens, and such,

Sunshine in SummerFlowers so pretty,
kids having fun
running the fields
with each morning sun.

Sunshine in SummerWhy can’t we stop time,
make summertime longer,
shorten the winter,
to keep us all stronger?

Sunshine in SummerLord, let Mr. Sunshine
last more than days
to strengthen our crops,
and store up more hay.

It goes far too quickly—
those warm summer days,
and we could use more
for work, and for play.

Hang on to Summer Surfing

But guess You know best,
I won’t question You, Lord.
By changing the seasons,
we never get bored.

Tamara Hillman
©2010

 

 



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