Saturday night bath, baby last.
Sunday morning, dirt trails take us there.
Cool air; wild fall asters strew our path
As our family goes to Sunday church.
Big bluestem, bronzed by summer’s final rays
Line our way to
Long Gospel readings, sacramental proceedings,
Wiggling kids on rough-sawn pews,
As our ragged pastor hews the solid sermon planks
From ancient Bible logs.
Rough-cut church floor,
An upgrade from our packed-dirt dugout,
And lonesome time between our fitful worship days.
The harvest moon in flyover country lights the waiting gain bins. Heavy rains and humid, misty mornings delay the harvest as anxious farmers’ fates hang upon the always-fickle weather.
Eggs sizzle, plates rattle from the cupboard. Sleepy-eyed kids trudge to the breakfast table.
“Scrambled or over-easy? The bus will be here in fifteen minutes.”
“The roads is muddy, he’ll be late.”
“Pass the plate of bacon.”
“Say ‘please’ John.”
“Hay to put up after school.”
Lined up, wool shirts, lunch boxes, Arithmetic and Reading books in hand.
“Can I take my slingshot?”
“Only if you’re careful, now get down the driveway and don’t step in the puddles.”
I can see and hear them on a bright, early fall morning. They converge from all directions, each carrying a lunch pail. Some in rough leather boots, others barefoot, chattering about summer days of swimming in the pond or creek, fishing in a nearby lake, or helping to preserve the garden harvest.
The first breath of morning awakens the windmill to pump water for the thirsty students. Their thirst for knowledge will also be quenched as they study the three R’s of readin’ ritin’ and ‘rithmetic.
Gene R. Stark
A teacher, farmer, trapper, and greenhouse grower. He writes about the outdoors and the people and culture of rural America..