July 22, 2006

Ice Cream, Cow Pies, and Grasshoppers

While we were on vacation, my Aunt and Uncle took the boys and me to see some distant cousins of ours in Geraldine, Alabama. Farm country.

This man and wife have been married for 61 years, marrying when she was 16 and he was 21. He’s a cattle farmer with some crops now, not like he used to have, but nearly 50 head and still bailing hay. He’s 82 and just as ornery and active as they come. He doesn’t look 82 and he sure as hell doesn’t move like he is. Good genes and an active life style have given him the proverbial fountain of youth. He’s the one that shares my maiden name.

His wife has a tougher time getting around. Her knees are shot, but it doesn’t keep her from moving and doing things. She’s a master quilter if I’ve ever met one and I spent my time in awe of the work she allowed me to see… an honor it was to have her share with me the great works she has created over the last 61 years. She quilts by hand. Her work is art. Words don’t describe the quilts she showed me and even though I’m a beginner quilter, I hang with some women who are very accomplished and I’ve seen some tremendous work and theirs pale compared to what I saw that day.

My cousins had daughters who in turn beget granddaughters and so there home has not often had stinky noisy boys running amok. They were ecstatic to have my ‘city boys’ visit and he showed us around the farm, taking the boys on a hayride, showing them the cows, showing them cow pies, and having them taste crab apples. My boys got up in a hayloft, rode through his orchard on a golf cart, and saw crops for the first time, up close.

I had to have faith that my cousin John would take care and not endanger my boys… he’d been taking care of live stock all his life and had raised kids of his own, so although I felt a knot in my stomach at some suggestions, I let John take them out and about.

He let my older boys drive the golf cart and when they came in Bones the Drama King declared to me, “I almost died! John saved my life!!!” Evidently one of the boys took a turn too fast, sending Bones nearly flying out of the golf cart and John grabbed him up by the arm and held him tight. I stood there mouth agape. John laughed.

The boys still talk about it.

And of course John is remembering the entire time what it was like to be a boy… remembering what he liked to do and egging my boys on. Things like… eating ice cream during the middle of the day. We’d been there an hour before he started saying to my boys, “Boys! You want some ice cream?!!!” He’d have fed them the ENTIRE carton if I’d let him.

During our walk through the cow pastures, the boys found grasshoppers. Immediately they took to catching them, asking me if they could take them home. John heard me say to them that they weren’t allowed to take those grasshoppers in my uncle's truck. John was standing right there.

Flash forward to the next morning, we were back at my Aunt and Uncle’s home and the kids were getting ready in the morning when I saw Son#2 with a Ziploc baggy in his hand. He was sealing it.

I walked in and said, “What is that?”

Son#2, big eyed and innocent, oh so very obviously lying: Nothing.

Me: Nothing? Phht. You lie. What is it?

And with Bones behind him frowning, Son#2 sheepishly handed me his Ziploc bag which carried no less than five grasshoppers.

Me: Where did you collect these?

Son#2: On the farm.

Me: What?! WHO gave you this baggy?!!

Son#2: Our cousins…

Bones: I stuck the baggy in my pocket. (He was wearing cargo shorts and used one of those handy dandy side pockets.)

Nice. Evidently John went inside and had fetched my boys something to collect those grasshoppers in, which they did, then Bones carried them around all day in his pocket, and then they stashed them in their luggage until I FOUND the boys checking on their treasures the next morning.

I should not have been surprised. Hell, John was surprised when I wouldn’t let my boys track mud and God only knows what else from the bottom of their shoes through his home! Of course his wife didn’t want that stuff on her floors… but John just loved watching them be boys.

We’ll go back next year. They’d like my eldest to spend the night, but when Bones said he wanted to, John’s wife said, “Oh! You have too much energy!! We don’t know what we’d do with you!”

She’s a sharp woman.

We will be back next year, for sure.

At one point during our visit, standing in John’s apple orchard, Bones said to me, “I sure am lucky to have a cousin that’s a farmer!” And he really really meant it.

Posted by Boudicca at July 22, 2006 09:30 PM | TrackBack

What a wonderful experience for the boys!

Posted by: Mrs_Who at July 22, 2006 09:52 PM

Very cool...

The boys need to do that stuff, if they want to end up great like me! ;)

Posted by: That 1 Guy at July 22, 2006 10:47 PM

Send the boys there for a week in the summer and have John put them to work!

Posted by: Denny at July 22, 2006 11:09 PM

Flashback to childhood visits to (great)Uncle Jack's ranch—the one my grandfather and all his brothers grew up on. It's great to get with folks who do work that'd knock a 9-5er on his butt (and do it day in and day out for 50+ years). Kinda puts life in a different perspective.

Posted by: David at July 22, 2006 11:30 PM

Sounds like they had a great old time at the farm. Best present you could've given your Uncle from the sounds of it was to let him have a day with the boys. :)

Posted by: Lisa W. at July 23, 2006 07:10 AM

Oh, that sounds so much like my childhood. We lived on my Popaws farm but we didn't have a golf cart. Fun, fun, fun. And it was across the valley from Geraldine!

Posted by: Michelle M. at July 23, 2006 10:37 AM

... there is nothing like boys running around on a farm... there is an adventure around every corner..

Posted by: Eric at July 23, 2006 01:28 PM

what a great summer they have had!

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at July 23, 2006 04:01 PM

"...watching them be boys."

Nothing I could add to that.

Posted by: Yabu at July 23, 2006 05:21 PM

Awesome! They got up in a hay loft? Cross one off that list! I, too, love watching boys be boys!

Posted by: oddybobo at July 24, 2006 08:25 AM