Country Whispers

Country Whispers

by Tamara Hillman

May 2014

My brother, who still lives in my home town in Northeastern Washington State, said he got his spuds planted last week, so I guess the ground has thawed enough to start puttin’ in the garden, and hope for a warm summer to make it grow. Lord knows, you folks up North need a reprieve.
We saw more than our share of Snow-Birds here in Arizona this year with license plates from Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Illinois, Vermont, Kansas, Rhode Island, and elsewhere the winter became unendurable for the season. I do hope the snow is gone, and May brings lots of sunshine and flowers. I know most Northerners have evacuated these parts with our days warming into the 90’s now.

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May Day Images

I remember how anxious we kids would be by May for school to be out for the summer—we were always free in those days by Memorial Day since we had no days off for teacher’s conferences, snow days, etc., during the school year back then. We were a hardy bunch who would wade deep snow out to the bus, or walked to school in it if we were within a mile. No matter how deep it got, we went to school. And teachers stayed after school to meet with parents for conferences. We only had ten days off (counting two weekends) for Christmas break, and a few days off around Easter time. And yes, they were CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS to be celebrated as such, not called, WINTER BREAK & SPRING BREAK!  Bah-humbug!  I’ve never heard such falderal…
These days, it’s the third week of June before they turn the kids loose. By that time, we’d be on our second skin peel from sunburns we’d already gotten runnin’ the fields, and floatin’ down the ditch. And our feet would be callused so hard, we could run on hot gravel an’ never feel a thing.
We would be hoeing weeds for Mom in the garden by the third week of June too, and have peas and beans already comin’ on. The tomatoes would be green yet, but rhubarb would be medium sized, and corn would be up eight to ten inches. Mom’s flowers would be bloomin’ and already tall on the northwest side of the house, and honey bees would be all over the clover comin’ through the grass in our lawn—we loved to catch those bees in a big ol’ fruit jar with a slit in the top so they could breathe. When you’d shake the jar, they’d really buzz.
By mid to late June, all the pollywog ponds had dried up over at the gravel pits on the county road that ran behind our property. We called it, “The Back Road”, and spent many hours playing on those gravel pits sliding down them on cardboard in the summer, and Toboggans and old tires during winter months. In summer, the deep pits located behind the fifty by one hundred-foot mounds of gravel were full of water about knee deep where we could roll up our jeans and wade around catching pollywogs. Such simple pleasures we had in our country-childhood adventures.
I still can name every family living on that back road in my day—Fergusons, Maltbees, Knapps, Mundays, Mr. LaRue, and the MacMillans—see, I told you I could. I can see all their faces too, young and old. There were plenty more kids along the main highway from our farm that we played with all summer long as well, and swam in the irrigation ditch flume where it came out into Beaver Creek. The Baskins, Taylors, Johnsons, and Blackhalls being families of mostly boys with a few girls thrown in. (We girls had no idea we were of the feminine gender then anyway since we ran like wild Indians day and night, and were true Tom-boys.) Only my pal, Fernie Johnson was a girlie-girl, and I was in great awe of her. She could cook and clean house by the time she was ten—play the piano too. Whatta gal! She even had beautiful long curls that were always clean and shiny, and to this day, I’ve never seen dirt under her fingernails, (tee-hee!) My hair would be powdery with gray dirt just like the boys, and what the ditch water didn’t wash off as we floated down would always be a hassle with Mom trying to dunk me in the tub before bed every night to get the extra pound or so out.
Before school would start in the fall, Mom would have to take a scrub brush to my feet to get the excess dirt out of the barefoot creases before she could put those nice, white, little anklets and sturdy brown shoes back on her wayward daughter. And in my day in grade school, we had to wear dresses everyday with ties that made a bow in the back, and have our hair curled and fussed over each morning after breakfast, (junior high & high school too—NO PANTS were worn…..I must admit, I HATED IT until at thirteen, I discovered I was a girl! Now, that was a pretty depressing thought at the time, as I recall.
By the end of May, we were being taught about family and those patriots who had sacrificed for us so we could live FREE in a country without dictators or kings! (Remember, this was sixty-some years ago, and times are a changin’ rapidly now—and not for the better, I fear.) A few days before Memorial Day, we would be cleaning around graves, pullin’ weeds, and gathering tumble weeds to be burned that had blown in and covered the entire area on top of that hill at Beaver Creek Cemetery. Our dad’s had all fought in WW11, and there were graves of those who didn’t survive the war scattered about in our cemetery, and also in the Winthrop Cemetery ten miles north of Twisp, (our little town.) It was a solemn occasion to gather at the graves each Memorial Day, and see the Legionnaires, (of which my Dad belonged) march down the center path, halt, and take a few shots into the air in unison with their rifles to salute their fallen comrades. Then, we’d hear Taps being softly played in the background. We were taught what it all meant from the cradle up, and I still get teary when I hear Taps played. After the ceremonies, the families would decorate all their relative’s graves with flowers that were already in season by then. I remember Mom’s Iris, Snap-dragons, and Peonies were picked for the occasion every year, along with her mother and sister’s various flowers too. Many a tale was told standing at those graves of folks we were kin to, but never knew. We were hearing our history, and getting an education about our families, though, as kids, we were oblivious to most of it until later years.


These traditions are slowly dying out, and I think when my kids are gone, they will not be practiced at all. My kids only follow the tradition because we passed it down, but sadly, it’s not done in many families anymore.

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Even if you don’t honor family this Memorial Day, do honor our military, and those who are giving their lives each and every day for America to keep our FREEDOMS, and prosper with no boot on our back to hold us down.

God Bless Them, Remember Them All

A poem for all to remember…..

Peace by Tamara Hillman

 

Will there be PEACE?
The Bible says, “No!”
There will be wars, and rumors of wars,
wherever we go…

So do we ignore it
when foreigners fight,
rescue the innocent,
or should we sit tight?

As a God-loving nation,
we surely must help—
give to the suffering,
don’t fear for our self.

Heroes are made,
cowards are shown—
tho’ most of our soldiers
aren’t even grown.

We grieve for the helpless
who become refugees,
and turn from the news
when slaughter we see.

But we must intervene
when EVIL arises,
keep our nose to the grindstone,
be prepared for surprises.

And most of all,
God wants us to pray
for His wish is for all
to have PEACE on this day.


Tamara Hillman
©2014



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