Friday, August 1, 2008

Just How Hot IS It?

Unlike some of the countries in the Middle East, we don’t expect temperatures to ever go much over 110 degrees. Tempers, however, are another situation altogether. When it gets hot in Texas, normally courteous women fight for the shady parking places in the mall parking lot. The cows head for the nearest tank to go up to their bellies to cool their undersides. Get in their way at your own risk!

Today my dad ventured out from under the air conditioner long enough to cool his dogs off with the water hose. On his way back to the house he saw two lizards fighting over a canteen.

Dad tells some tales once in a while, but when he was a boy during the dust bowl days, one of his jobs each day was to go down to the metal stock tank and skim out the rabbits that had jumped in to get a drink and had never made it out again. The cows weren’t too fond of rabbit stew, but they had no other place to get water. That old stock tank was still down below the house when I was at home, but Granddad had dug a good stock pond on the place by that time.

One year we had grasshoppers so thick that they ate every green thing in sight. A walk through the dry grass sent up little clouds of grasshoppers every direction. And we finally found a good use for them. The fish in the pond just loved grasshoppers. Pull the hoppers off a few insects, pitch them on the water, and watch the fun! Even the turtles wanted in on that feast. It just doesn’t take much to entertain some people.

Years ago a flock of turkeys or geese would help a farm almost as much as a hired hand by getting rid of bugs and grasshoppers. Add the job of herding turkeys to my dad’s résumé. He told us that turkeys weren’t the brightest birds in the world. Left out during a rain storm they would look straight up at the sky and drown standing flatfooted in the yard. Now that has got to be dumb! But a boy in those days had plenty to do while he herded turkeys. The willow trees on the creek made good whistles from small green branches. Dad taught the Boy Scout troop that little trick when my brother became a scout. They also learned about mountain boomers—the fringed lizards that lived in the rocky hills above the farm.

Both of the parents lived in a time before homes had air conditioning. The best most people could do was open the doors front and back and pray for a breeze. For the longest time out on the farm, they had no electricity and no running water. Only when the rural electric co-op took lines to the farms was there a way to pump water from the well to the house. And it wasn’t any cooler in summer time back then than it is now. Mother said that hand fans were a necessity rather than a decoration.

We sit here and pray for rain and wait for cooler weather. Then I remember these others: our parents and grandparents and those who settled this country come heat, hail, or high water. And then I think about the men and women who are serving in the armed forces so that we can sit here and grouse about the price of gasoline and electricity. Whether or not we approve of the places our soldiers are sent, we owe a debt of gratitude to anyone who is willing to serve this country. May they be blessed by cool breezes and clean waters!


Writing Right said...

Oh, the power of words and the perspective they give!

Thanks for the gentle reminders to appreciate those who do what they do so that we can have what we have in this wonderful "hot" country of ours!

I may have to share this with my students. As juniors, they are beginning to appreciate the reality of those military persons overseas.

It is hot, though! Arkansas is feeling the heat wave also!

Carla said...

I love the way your blessing ties the piece together!

npd said...

I stand corrected: The Mountain Boomer is a collared lizard--crotaphytus collaris. And Mom says it was the stupid geese that looked straight up during a rain storm and had to be shut in the shed to keep the silly things from drowning. Maybe that is why they are called "silly geese." Furthermore, Dad said he had to herd the turkeys to keep the coyotes at bay and to keep the critters from going to the backside of Clay County when they got to chasing something. Correction noted. Thanks, Parents.