Well, we are getting those April showers that are supposed to come! I am ready for some May sunshine!
My next "composition" follows. Following the last publication, I received two copies in the mail that individuals cut out and kindly sent to me-that, in addition to several people stopping me to say they are still enjoying what I write. Humbles me . . .
I am glad that winter days have passed, but all the hours sittin' and stitchin' gave me a lot of time to think. And my mind wandered back to some happenings when I was growing up. And I wondered, too, why it is that these particular incidents stay with me. They always come to mind for some reason.
On the farm, of course, all our clothes were hung on the line during the months that allowed such. (And it's still that way at my house.) This one particular sunny day, my Mother did the usual washing-on the wringer washer, of course-picked up the basket of wet clothes, elbowed open the screen door on the back porch, and encountered the usual brood of nine or 10 cats that were lounging there. They were all "outside" cats, never allowed in the house, spending their days stretched out on our back porch and their nights in the barn.
The back porch was their favorite spot during the day because of the possibility of table scraps that could come flying out the door at any moment! Then, the lounging was immediately over and the scrounging began!
Mother said that she never looked down at the brood at her feet but, instead, shuffled her way through them and on to the clothes line, hung the clothes up, and shuffled her way back through into the house. Only then did she casually look down at the cats and discovered a lovely black and white one she did not remember we had. A second look brought a gasp when she realized it was definitely new. It was a skunk, enjoying the company of the Piercy cats in broad daylight, hoping for its chance at some of those table scraps.
Needless to say, Mother ALWAYS checked out the cats ever after that before she even thought of opening the back screen door.
We had milk cows up until I was probably about 10 years old. Daddy and Mother both did the milking, and on this particular morning I still had my pajamas on when I followed Daddy to the barn.
One Hereford we had was named "Angel"-but she was anything but that! She had not been dehorned and made good use of those horns, which came around and almost touched in the middle of her forehead. She could pull barbed wire from fence posts, dismantle a wooden gate in minutes, and just generally cause any kind of trouble she so desired.
I remember this one morning I was so anxious to help Daddy, and I waited as he directed each cow into its stanchion, and I locked them in. Important job!
Being small, I had to stretch across the feed box to reach above their heads to throw the wooden block over and in place. This worked fine with all of them until I came to "Angel."
As it happened, she had her head down, already looking for feed, when I stretched above her to lock her in. She, obligingly, raised her head-with those well used horns on it-and caught my pajama top. There was a loud rip as it tore from bottom to top and hung on me like a rag.
Daddy's eyes were big, looking at me from the other end of the cow, but not nearly as big as mine!
"Guess you're gonna need a new pair of pajamas," he said, and went on milkin'.
I made my way to the house, wondering how I was going to explain this to Mother, and realizing it could have been my young stomach that got caught in those horns. I learned my lesson, without my Dad having to say another word. And I steered clear of "Angel" until we eventually sold her.
Then I remember the lesson about gasoline and its volatility that I will never forget. Of course, my Dad worked for Esso for years and knew all about the dangers of gasoline and fire. He taught us this lesson with a yellow jackets' nest buried deep in the ground.
We had a fairly long driveway from the house up to the main road and our mailbox. During the summer, it was the job of my sister and me to walk up and get the mail at some time during the day. This particular summer, we began to notice yellow jackets escorting us on the second half of this journey. The longer summer went on, the more "friendly" they became until we were both afraid to go for the mail.
When Daddy came home from work one evening, he said we would wait until almost dark, and then we would take care of the yellow jacket problem. He explained that, when dark comes, all bees "go to nest" and we would be sure of getting them all.
No doubt the DNR would absolutely have a fit about this now, but this was the 1950s when you took care of problems the best way you knew how.
At dusk, he took both my sister and me to the granery where he picked up a can of gasoline. He then asked us to show him the hole in the ground where the bees had been going in and out.
All this time, he was explaining to us what he was about to do was very dangerous and for us to never try it.
And I'm sure you can figure out what came next. He sent us back to the granery - several hundred feet away-poured gas down the hole, ran a stream of it for about a hundred feet, looked to make sure where we were, and then dropped a match.
It goes without saying what happened to the yellow jackets nest in the ground.
And it also goes without saying that I learned a lesson about gasoline that I never forgot. I can still see how fast the fire ran up that lead stream and still hear the "boom" when it ran under the ground. Gasoline and fire-of any kind-do not mix.
So that's some of my thinkin' while I was sittin' and stitchin'. Why do I remember these? Because there was a lesson in every one.
And I've carried those lessons all my life. And they were valuable . . . They must have been because I still remember -and use them - more than 50 years later.