Last week a visit to my Midwestern roots included stops to reminisce with family and friends – living and deceased. Wandering aroud Sacred Heart Cemetary, where generations of my family are buried, on a beautiful summer day full of sunshine and fresh air I felt a sense of connection. My father’s gravesite is in the shade of a beautiful oak and I envision him napping the way he used to on Sunday afternoons. My grandmother, aunts and cousins are comparing recipies and preparing enoromus feasts along with elaborate handi-crafts with colorful yarns, fabrics, needle and thread. Going out to admire the new buldings my brother built on the family farm filled me with a sense of awe at how he has brought the homestead into the 21st Century while maintining the footprint of the family farm we grew up with. Our father’s old International truck was the first vehicle he parked in the latest multi-purpose building. Still standing is the little Pump House where we’d bring the milk to keep cool until the milk man came by to pick up the milk cans. It was also the half way point on my tractor driving route during hay baling. Ordinarily, I wasn’t needed to drive tractor since I had two brothers more than willing and capable of doing the driving. But everyone is needed for some kind of a job when it comes to getting the hay bales out of the field and into the barn. Stacking the heavy bales on the hay wagon was not something I was tall enough to accomplish. But, I was tall enough to reach the pedals of the Ford tractor and that’s how driving the tractor became my job. The Ford pulled the cable holding the hay rack clamped full of hay bales up into the hay loft in the barn. I backed the Ford from the barn, across the width of the yard, carefully avoiding the Pump House, and stopping just shy of the back door of the house. I never managed to get the hang of the clutch, so it was never a smooth ride. But I didn’t run into the Pump House, nor did I hit the house – although I frightened Mother a few times.
Growing up in a small farming community way back in the 50’s when the internet and science fiction and there were only three networks, going to the Mower County Fair was grand entertainment. My brothers, sisters and cousins loved the Midway rides and always gave me a hard time because I wasn’t game enough to go on anything wilder than the Merry-Go-Round. Of course, they would go on everything, walking like drunken sailors when they emerged from the Tilt-A-Whirl. We all enjoyed the Tom Thumb doughnuts hot out of the grease from the travelling carnival booth. And we never missed getting malt served by the Dairy Princess at the Dairy building. Or to at least gaze at her likeness carved in butter. That does take a specific kind of talent to take a block of butter and shape it into the face of a small town beauty. But I my favorite display of creativity was the 4H exhibits – especially the Clothing & Textiles. Tissue paper, pins, needles and thread along with intuition of color choice and choosing just the right fabric for the design came together with prize winning results. Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls, even Vogue patterns were brought to life in simple garments by aspiring seamstresses to more involved and complicated ensembles expertly executed by accomplished artesian. My older cousin won a blue ribbon one year for the dress and coat she made for a special division called Make it with Wool. It was worthy of a Marlo Thomas That Girl costume.
While I had no illusions about making anything so grand (Miss Lowe gave me a D in the sewing section of Home Economics class), I knew that one day I’d make something beautiful too. And I have. I’ve made lots of beautiful somethings. I’ve sewn everything from curtains to costumes and lots of clothing in between.
Now when folks are talking about ways to economize, sewing has become popular again. I think it is inspiring and exhilarating to be able to express yourself with a needle and thread. Starting simple and small with a pillow or curtain is a great beginning. Who knows, maybe I’ll see something of yours at the fair.
Summer is a favorite time of year for families to gather for reunions and as a child I remember attending the annual Underwood picnic in Blooming Prairie. Aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and various friends who became adopted family gathered in the church basement to trade stories and eat a covered dish lunch. The church basement was always clammy with the humid summer air even when you stood in front of the one oscillating fan in the place. Little kids with red Kool-Aid lips gave grandmas and great aunties big sticky kisses at the urging of laughing mothers.
didn’t put in enough of the flavor packets. But it did us no good to say it needed sugar, there was no sugar to put in! They remembered the cream for the coffee, but no one used sugar. That was before the days of sugar substitutes so no Equal or Splenda either. Obviously, we survived and can laugh about it now – the year we had colored water at the picnic!
Nebraska, the boat came to the farm to be part of our summer entertainment. Since I didn’t have the responsibilities of the maintenance of a boat motor, nor the upkeep of painting and varnishing a wooden boat, I have very fond memories of great times on the water in that boat. I also have fond memories of splashing around in the water with my older cousins. Marilyn was the only daughter of Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Veronica. She had a wonderful laugh, a generous nature and very sweet to her little cousin. I can almost feel the sun on my back and the water lapping against the black inner tube when I look at this picture. –
Do you have a summer memory like this one? If not, why don’t you make one for yourself? Take yourself to the beach or some shore. Wade in the water and wiggle your toes in the sand. Connect with Nature. It’s a simple thing which yields immeasurable benefits.
July means freedom and a break from routine:
· A 10-year-old is happy to have lazy summer days off from teachers, books, homework and sitting still in a classroom.
· A 16-year-old is eager to make her own spending money at a summer job and get a glimpse into the business world she may enter some day.
· A 22-year-old spends a brief interlude reminiscing about a not so long ago childhood while making preparations for a first job and brand new life hovering on the horizon.
· A 39-year-old anxiously anticipates random unassigned hours during the week and perhaps an occasional Saturday or Sunday afternoon to herself.
· A 59-year-old may have the luxury of choice as to when she’ll accomplish the many obligations in her life, but certainly not the benefit of more than the same 24-hour day allotted to the rest of us.
The beauty of living a Simple Abundant Life is that every day offers us freedom and a chance to break from our routine when we choose to tap into our Creativity and make something different happen for ourselves. Don’t automatically reach for the same type of tea, brand of cereal, book/magazine title, etc.
There is a lot of talk right now about folks having to take a “staycation” rather than a “vacation.” Meaning – have fun in your own back yard because it’s too expensive to drive/fly the family to a rest and relaxation destination. I’ve never had the expectation that I’ll be travelling once a year because I didn’t grow up going on vacations every summer. I have had the opportunity to take some wonderful trips and I look forward to doing more. But I also know that there’s much to be seen and to be grateful for in my own little corner of the world. We don’t have to wait for out of town guests to explore a local museum, take a hike on a Nature Path, or plan a picnic to enjoy Shakespeare in the Park. Every weekend offers a street fair, a festival or even a farmer’s market going on somewhere – that’s free entertainment for the whole family!
So let’s pay attention to our attitude and concentrate on how wealthy we are with possibility, rather then waste our wit and wile on outward situations in the world at large. Our internal landscape is wide open and your Spirit is ready for the freedom to run free. See you on the trail!