Archived Story

The ghosts of farms past are found in the rust

Published 10:37am Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

“Did we clean the restroom this year?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Did we clean it last year?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Make a note. We need to clean it next year for sure.”

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: if you try to fail and you succeed, which have you done?

I’ve learned

1. We hope to have better children than those of our parents.

2. If you want time to pass more slowly, drive the speed limit.

3. A nice thing about living in a small town is that you can walk to the car wash.

A child cracks wise

I was teaching a writing class to third through eighth graders. I asked the class why they thought school was important. One delightful third grader named Jasmyne replied, “Because without school, we would be dumb and stuff.”

A former kid

I congratulated a stranger whose parked car carried a bumper sticker proclaiming that her child was an honor student. The proud mother showed me a photo of the child. I am the youngest in my family. There were no bumper stickers congratulating me or any other child. There were few photos of me. As I said, I’m the baby of my family. My parents had apparently satisfied their need for photographs before I was born. My only chance of getting into a photo was if I happened to walk in front of the camera while my mother was taking a photo of a used car my parents had just purchased.

Rural ramblings

It snowed but I was able to get out of the yard. Being snowed in isn’t as bad as being snowed out. Not being able to get home hurts.

I live in the country. Some people live in the city so that they might be close to things. Some people live in the country so that they aren’t close to things. There may be a lack of some things in rural areas, but some of the things that are lacking aren’t needed.

In my boyhood years, there were many more farmers than there are today. Things change. They always have. Fewer farmers mean there are fewer farm sites. Some have become fields without evidence they ever existed.

If there are ghosts on farmsteads, they are not only in the neglected houses and crumbling barns, but in the implements as well. The farm equipment, no longer of use and of limited value, mark sites growing robust burdock and ragweed. There is enough iron below ground to make a metal detector sing its battery dead. The past makes itself known in rust.

Lilacs mark the interaction with the past.

Scenes from marriages

They were high school sweethearts. I know because they told me. They had been married for 60 years. I asked if it had been love at first sight.

He answered, “It was for me. Not for her. I wore her down.”

She added, “He’s still wearing me down.”

A friend told me that when he and his wife were first married, she indicated the need for a clothes dryer. He told her, “How can we afford that?”

Not long after that, as he prepared to go on an extended hunting trip with friends, his wife asked, “How can we afford that?”

They got a dryer.

From the mailbag

Ric McArthur of Ontario writes, “If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man — he will find an easy way to do it.”

Meeting adjourned

Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”


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