Some things just live a good, long life and then they disappear. The deep woods is losing its summerwear and fall is at the doorstep. The sweet, pungent aroma of decaying leaves permeates your sinuses as you enter and the scent makes you woozy with the fragrance. Tall grass that was green just last month has now turned golden brown with seeds dangling from the narrow tendrils at the end of the stalks.
Excuse me while I wipe the egg off the face of my 2014 Minnesota Twins baseball forecast. There, I've hit the corners of my mouth and got a bit of egg out of my right ear. I really don't know what to say. What started out as a hopeful season went down the tube faster than blue wing teal flying by my duck blind. I should have known better by now than to forecast any team's success or demise. It only leads to depression. I started doing this forecast back when the Twins went from worst to first. Remember that year?
A single, brilliant red maple leaf drifted down and lit on my dark green camo jacket as I walked in the backwoods last week. A reminder that the "good season" is in progress. I hauled the latest batch of pickled red beets to our basement storehouse a few days ago to be placed alongside the canned string beans, freshly made salsa and dill pickles. Gifts from above as my wife stood by the kitchen counter working on getting our sweetcorn crop ready for the freezer. Soon I would be trucking 50 some pints of sweetcorn to be frozen and used as the January winds pound on our doors.
I'll be digging my potatoes this week. The killing frost of last Friday night put the end to any further growing in our garden. It's time to dig the spuds. Some folks might laugh at why I plant potatoes. Why, they say, would anyone want to go to the trouble of putting in a crop of russets, reds or Yukon golds when you can easily buy them in any grocery store? And, except for certain times of the year, potatoes are not really a very high price item. Well, I'm here to tell you that there are many reasons to plant potatoes, and the tuber has more uses than just being cut into French fries.
My farm dog never knew what a collar was. He never had a kennel. He never traveled more than a mile from home and he never, ever came in the house. Things have changed in dog-dom. I recently was involved in a region-wide festival where the community welcomed in folks from around the Midwest and Canada. The festival saw a great turnout of mostly rural types or urban types who wanted to be or once were considered rural. One of the things I found interesting in that group was how many of them brought their dogs with them.
Not all farming was blood, guts, sweat and grime. Sometimes I think the general public got that picture of how farmers always lived in years past. I've found over the years that many farmers were actually very sensitive and caring creatures. They just had a hard time showing those attributes at times. You know, the strong, silent, endure any pain types? I've heard that the 2014 apple crop is beginning to come in.
My family hasn't gone on a camping trip this summer. Don't ask me why. I guess the days and weeks just passed us by with a cold, wet spring and an all-too short summer. We usually take a short trip sometime after ice-out, but not this year. That will change, perhaps in the next few weeks. Camping was not in our farm vocabulary on those western Iowa plains.
The first musical instrument sound I probably ever heard, outside of the organ at my church baptism, was probably that twang of a rhythm guitar. My dad picked up the guitar during his hitch in the Army Air Corps in World War II and he brought the guitar home with him to the western Iowa farmland he called home. I can still hear the St. Louis Blues being played from that old farmhouse parlor. That sound must have impregnated itself into my infant brain cells because I've never tired of hearing it.
I still change my own oil once in awhile. Don't ask me why, because a person can have most any garage change the oil in your car or truck at not much more and maybe even less money. But I just like the feel of unscrewing that drain plug and listening to the dirty oil gurgle out of the crankcase. I like feeling the oil filter break loose from its housing and then the feel of warm oil dripping down my lower arm.
Those of my generation who grew up in the countryside can attest to the value of our paternal and maternal aunts and uncles. I had the privilege of welcoming my Aunt Vera to our home last week on her annual sojourn to visit my mother, her sister, and my dad, her brother-in-law. Aunt Vera and I share a certain common bond when it comes to family. She is the oldest of nine children and I am the oldest of all the grandchildren on my mother's side of the family. Being born first comes with a certain amount of responsibility.