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COUNTRY RAMBLIN'S

by Tamara Hillman
June

Roller Skating TurtleSummer is here! Roller Skating Turtle

I know the kids are happy school will be out this month. And you folks who survived another long winter can’t be unhappy about the warm sun shinin’ down on you and those crops in the field.

When I was growin’ up, we kids would be out of school by Memorial Day, and went back after Labor Day. The reason being; we didn’t have all the week long vacation breaks they have nowadays, school missed for teacher’s conferences, etc., and if a foot of snow fell overnight, the plows were out all night keeping roads clear so busses could get through in the morning. If we’d missed school every time there was a SNOW DAY, we would have been home with Mom five months during every school year.

Now, mind you, the road or driveway wasn’t always shoveled from your front door to the bus stop, but we were dressed for the wade through deep snow. Boys wore long-handles (one piece underwear) under their clothes, warm coats, gloves, hats, and overshoes. Girls wore dresses everyday, but underneath those dresses were snow pants with rubber boots pulled up and fastened tight over those warm pants covering your shinbones so snow could not get in and make your shoes, socks and feet wet. We had warm coats with hoods, and carried muffs, (for those of you who have never heard of a muff, it’s a furry or wool circular hand covering about sixteen inches in length that you pushed both hands into from opposite ends so they stay warm and cozy.)

But I digress. Who wants to hear about winter when glorious summer is finally here…

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We resembled Huck Finn in a lot of ways living out our summers in the country—total freedom to roam the countryside with bare feet and rolled up jeans wadin’ in the pollywog pond to catch those squirmin’ buggers. (Of course, we always let them go, but it was fun for me to see how many I could catch in a jar more than my brothers.) We had high adventures making Go-carts outta scraps of lumber and baby buggy wheels we found at the dump, ridin’ horses, swimmin’ in the irrigation ditch, robbin’ Mom’s garden of warm tomatoes and rubbarb with salt, swingin’ on a rope into the hayloft, etc.

Everything we did was competitive. Me, being the eldest, stayed ahead in those competitions for a few years, but not forever. The boys got me down on the back porch when I was around eleven, and taught me who was boss. By high school, I’d turned into a girl, and then the boys only teased me instead of trying to compete.

When we ran free in summertime, the whole neighborhood in a five-mile radius met at the swimmin’ hole. Whether we wore cut off jeans, or had a ‘for real’ swimsuit, we played for hours splashin’ and swimmin’ in that churned up water. It actually was ditch water where the flume opened into a deep and wide hole. Half of us floated down the ditch to get there, the other half walked, rode horses or their bikes, but we got there, and spent most afternoons in cool splendor.

It was hot and dry in our valley for months on end, and when it did storm, it was a mighty roar of black thunderheads rollin’ in with lightening strikes on mountains all around, then a downpour for an hour or so. After that, the sun would appear, and steam would rise a few minutes until the excess water had all evaporated. Most times, you’d never know the weather had changed at all from the warm morning you woke up to.

Boy showing off to the GirlsI truly believe our time being raised was soooooo much better than this electronic age of today where kids grow fat sitting around the house playing video games, texting their friends on their phones, and using their Ipods to communicate when away from their computers. The best thing parents could do for their kids today would be take all electronic devices away for the summer. They would learn survival and creativity skills no one could ever teach them otherwise. But just try and take a teenagers cell phone away from them. Whew! You’d think the world had come to an end.

How did we ever survive without ten-speed bikes, television, in-door plumbing, computers, and Girl riding a bikephones we carried with us at all times? I’ll tell ya how—with our learning skills. I think we’ve lost creativity in our children. They think they have to be ENTERTAINED by someone or something, (something expensive) at all times. When was the last time you heard a mother say, “You kids go out side and play?” W’y, if the kids actually went outside, they’d just stand there and stare. They have no ‘pretend games’ or creativity to entertain them—none whatsoever.

Swim in the ditch, catch pollywogs, ride pedal bikes with no speeds, no money for indoor movies, no trips to the mall to ogle other boys or girls when teenagers, no Ipods, computers, cell phones, no cars to own at sixteen that are fully automated, (no such thing as a column-shift, dimmer-switch on the floor, etc.), not even a four-on-the-floor shift unless a boy wants to show off with a pickup or car equipped with it. GIVE ME A BREAK!

We (the older generation) are tough old birds today because of less invention, and learning survival skills at an early age. (The first thing you learned was how to survive your parents if you stepped outta line.) The old saying, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out,” was not a joke in my time. Discipline and respect for your elders (parents and grandparents) was a huge factor in every household. And outside of your home, those same rules applied. Any Mom could send us packin’ if we misbehaved on their territory, not to mention teachers, preachers and cops.

Lordy! When I see these cop shows on TV where young people are being disrespectful and cussin’ out a cop, I cringe. When I was a kid, if the cop didn’t beat the livin’ daylights outta you for such behavior, your Dad surely would when that same police officer drug you home by the scruff of the neck!

Dang! Here I go again with a personal rant against the spoiled youth of today when I planned on talkin’ about summertime fun. Well, you get the picture. We DID have great fun in my day, but we also had chores and more rules to follow than kids have free time today. And guess what, my contemporaries and I are not scarred from discipline and good manners we were taught. We don’t hate our parents, and Mom’s arm swung quickly in front of us in the car as we stood in the front seat beside her as little ones worked just fine for a seat belt when she’d come to a sudden stop!

Guess I’ll come to a sudden stop here too, and just say, “Have a wonderful summer y’all.”

Granny Tam


Here’s my idea of the perfect country summer in the Methow Valley where I learned everything I’d ever need to know about livin’ the GOOD LIFE!

SUMMER/COUNTRY STYLE

Oppressive heat permeating arid days.

Rivers flowing languidly slow.

Children skinny-dipping in shallow pools.

Ants invading picnics.

Elm–lined streets bustling with ‘cyclers.

Roller Skating TurtleRoller skates gliding on sidewalks.

Rope swings dangling from rugged limbs.

Whirring fans spinning rhythmically.Rope Swings Spinning

Lace curtains billowing from open-windows.

Grandpas snoozing on hot afternoons.

Long-tongued dogs lapping water.

Tall oaks sharing precious shade.

Children selling lemonade.

Lawn mowers humming from afar.

Golden grain waving in the wind.

Porch swings visited at sunset.

Ah, those lazy days of summer…

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Tamara Hillman ……….©2001



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