April 2010

Winter is officially a thing of the past and the pay-off for enduring its siege is an explosion of green and active wildlife in surround sound. The sky is never bluer than when it’s a canopy behind green trees.

With green trees come green grass and the beginning of America’s summer pastime, cutting the lawn. In California it is the men who dominate this sport but here in the Ozarks, women get riding lawnmowers for their birthdays and anniversaries. I even suspect that they receive their first one upon graduating high school. But these are sturdy Mid-western women and you couldn’t expect anything less. After they’re done cutting the lawn, they’ll have dinner ready before their husbands return home from fishing.

Last week with the help of my daughter, we planted our 60’x50’garden. I was able to get a hold of some heirloom black beans that came from the Cherokee Indians who carried them to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.  Since they’re heirloom, I’ll be able to save some of the seeds for next year’s planting. Our garden is still an ongoing experiment each year of what to plant and how much. I do know that green beans are no longer taking up prime growing space; I knocked those back to two small rows. I believe I ate one too many last year and they have never regained my complete affection. Too many more and I might have to add them to my personal terrorist list along with cauliflower, lima beans and brussels sprout. And to think I threatened my lovely little granddaughter with, “No dessert until you finish your green beans”. I should turn myself in. I’m so ashamed. I’ve made a larger commitment to melons this year with seven different varieties in all. I have also expanded my pepper plot to seven different varieties. Along with twenty-three tomato plants I started from seed we will advance our salsa making skills to another level to what a friend calls, “Making a batch of skid marks”.

As I write this, I’m keeping one eye out the window to my back pasture that I set on fire this morning to try and burn off the last of the undergrowth. I had to take advantage while the wind is in the right direction so it doesn’t go over to my neighbor’s property. With all the rains we’ve had things are still a bit wet and even with the wind today, it’s burning slowly where a rake and a boot sole is all that’s needed to keep it under control. Nevertheless, I’m watching it so it doesn’t get into my trees and create a story I don’t want to tell. I’ve come to like fire since living here and I have so much fun with it that I don’t think California would ever allow me to move back. Fire is a freedom that’s here for the making. It’s another one of those things you can do here and no one will walk up and say, “Hey, you can’t do that!”

My wife is in California right now helping out with our new grandbaby and is also enjoying some shopping while there. We don’t have the variety of stores to buy “stuff” like back in California and that was hard to get used to at first. To get a better variety we have to drive two hours into Springfield. Yet we have to make the drive worth it and not go all that way for just one pair of shoes. Nonetheless, a small price to pay for so much in return.

The seduction of convenience keeps most people in the city and its surrounding areas right where they are. Believing that they can’t live without it keeps them from straying too far from the spigot. I have to admit though, there are brief moments when I want to transport myself to a Barnes and Noble to get a Starbucks and read their magazines. Afterwards I’d stroll the mall and do some people watching. Except for the traffic, too many people, crime, high taxes, bright lights, noise, the smell, billboards, racial tension, concrete and buildings everywhere, I kind of like the city.

Our little town has a gas station/convenience store that also serves up a great breakfast where you can go and get to know and be known; a post office with the greatest personal service anywhere and a volunteer fire department that may or may not show up in time – though I’m told they boast that they’ve never lost a foundation yet. We also have a park along the lake where you can camp, fish or canoe. Most could not live with so little but that’s why most aren’t here and things remain pretty much the same…. Simple.

I mailed some bills out last week and didn’t realize one was without a stamp and that one needed to be on time. We couldn’t afford to wait until it came back to us so I stopped by the post office to try and head it off before it left town. Come to find out, our mail carrier makes a drop at another post office miles away so our letter wasn’t coming back. Our Postmaster Kim said not to worry and got on the phone to that other post office and told them to keep an eye out for my letter. She told them when they find it to put a stamp on it and send it on its way and that she would pay them back the next day. Two years after arriving here I’m still being surprised by the thoughtfulness of these people.

The fireflies are starting to reappear, the whippoorwill sing in the evenings. I see box turtles crossing my way while on walks in the morning. We have no curbs lining the road. Here we have wildflowers. 

Published in: on May 1, 2010 at 12:50 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sounds so lovely and peaceful!

  2. Loved this letter,laughed and commented to George that we remember the stores too. But you really can’t compare the ozark’s to any other place for beauty and the overwhelming courtesy of our neighbors. Many a time have we forgot to buy the new stamps,but Don and Charlene just put on the 2 cents that was needed and never said a word…where else?

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for directing me to your blog. I very much enjoyed talking to you Thursday past and hope you are feeling better by now. Our kids came home for Mothers Day and we have enjoyed having them here this weekend. Bruce and I built Lucinda (his Mom, my wife) a bluebird house out of some cedar boards I had cut a long time ago. This pm we made tomato cages. I enjoyed the time together. I enjoyed your comments also and am glad you are here.

  4. Love the rainbow. It’s nice that you’re on the receiving end of some good old Ozarks helpfulness. It’s a trait that is deeply ingrained in many locals, and they aren’t stingy with it. Your garden sounds great. Hope the black beans produce well….and the melons, too. Love this old map…I’ve seen it before but don’t recall where. But I agree with you that it is perfect for the project you described. Will be sharing this idea with other Historium members. Thanks for the thought!

  5. Janet,
    That’s our backyard rainbow that we get to enjoy from time to time.
    HA! Yes people here seem to spread kindness around like they’ll never run out! They have to ration it in CA.

  6. its sounds very nice,cant wait to get out there! maybe oct ? guess i dont have to bring my m-16 my 40cal or my 9 mm you have to have all that here just to drive down the streets!!! las vegas has been named “little detroit”” ! its nuts here!! thanks for the story,,, always enjoyed them thanks brother..steve

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