Just the chance to take a look back

By Rick Houser – 

One evening last week I had gone for a drive in my old pickup truck. My truck has reached an age where I only take it on the road near home and usually drive the side roads so I don’t have to go too fast. That might have been why I saw the things I did that evening.  It was nearing dusk and the end to what had been a very nice summer day, with a sky so clear and blue along with temperatures that were just right for an August evening.
As I drove along I saw a field of hay that might have been twelve acres in size that had just been baled into tied square bales. As I looked across the rolling field at the continuous rows of neatly tied bales, I saw a crew of men walking across the field. They had finished loading a couple of wagons and were preparing to go home for the evening. Near the gate to this field rested the hay baler and rake. The sun was fading away and the field was becoming more covered with shade. To me it was a scene I had viewed many times over the years, often when I was still farming and baling hay in the 60’s and 70’s.
I’m sure I have written about baling hay before but this scene only reconnected me with all that I had seen as I had driven along that evening. I saw fields at their peak in the growth process and the gardens I noticed were at the center of their season, looking so green and neat, organized like they had been planned when first planted.
Along with the crops looking their best, I observed people outside either in a garden or in a field or at one house on the front porch, just sitting and talking and taking in all that this time of year has to offer. I think that because I was in my truck and going pretty slow, I too was taking the time to soak up a few moments of a beautiful evening.  As I drove on towards home it got me to thinking that I had seen all this before. That is because I had.
When I was growing up and beyond, people stayed outside more and used their porches to take advantage of the evening cooling, to pick some vegetables or pull some weeds, or even in the case of the farmer with the field of hay, or load up the wagons while the day was winding down, again taking advantage of that  cooler temperature.
I don’t care if summer comes in the end of June. The peak of the summer is in August. Even though there isn’t a specific date highlighted on a calendar, rural folks just seemed to know that we had reached the best  that the year was going to offer. Just take a look around at the crops that have reached the apex of their growth before they begin to dry to be harvested. The foliage on all the trees, shrubs, plants and lawns are as green as they are going to be. The lawns are mowed and trimmed to perfection as are the pasture fields. The weeds aren’t overtaking anything yet. Our world is showing us its entire splendor.
All we have to do is take the time to look.  Just take a drive and look at the world around you or just sit on the porch and look at what is near you as you soak up some of summer. In days gone by, we used to sit on the porch with a radio sitting on a window sill  as we were breaking beans, watching the lightning bugs and the cars pass, or listening to Cincinnati Reds baseball. It all sounds so picturesque and maybe in a small way it was, but it was a time I loved and last week I got to slide back to that time and for just a few moments I got to feel the experience once more. Man, did it feel good!
Today the world is a very different place. Seldom is a person outside in the evening. Rarely do you see people sitting on the front porch. There’s nothing quite like the sight of a crew of men walking slowly from a field after finishing a hard day’s work,  satisfied from their efforts. Those days have become more the exception than the rule.
Today the population stays inside where they have over 600 channels on their televisions and even the Reds games are on every night. On top of that if you don’t like what is on the regular channels, just flip over Netflix. If you don’t care for television, there is always the internet and of course don’t forget Facebook. We live in the age of electronics and instant gratification. These things didn’t exist too long ago but as they have moved to the front of society’s eye, they have taken over what we do with our time.
I wish I could guarantee everyone that by loading up in your car or truck and driving slowly down a winding road would allow you a flashback and some retrospect, but I can’t. Even if I wanted to return to the past and I don’t, it was still nice to enjoy that brief look back that jarred my memory to the life we had then. Today is a time of great technology and can be difficult to understand if you are my age, but it is also a time of watching the awesome progress our society continues to make. But when it is the peak of the summer, technology doesn’t even come close, so if there is a chance, get out there and enjoy every moment of it.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories from his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.