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Country Echoes

MAE BABER, R. D. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin

IT MAY BE THIS PARTICULAR summer morning that one of our Steam Engine Brothers is searching in vain for a tail pipe for his tender or a fan for his flues. (I wish I understood these things).

Indeed, you have a problem! Well now, don't ever think you are alone in this. So have I. Mine, however, is of quite a different nature. You answer it for me, if you can.

How does one suddenly project herself from January to July? Here I sit, cozily, near a radiantly warm register trying to write this column for July or August, perhaps even September. How does one anticipate what Aunt Lene might do? She's a woman too, and the species do react unexpectedly at times.

Ah me! The last thing I remember from yesterday is the tank truck for our milk at 9:30 P. M., and the milkman telling my husband it was the seventh place he had made all day out of his forty-two stops. There is snow to the 'left of us' and 'snow to the right of us' and while it doesn't 'volley and thunder' it surely rolls. Wisconsin hasn't been treated to a blizzard like this one for several years. I needed a junior size snow plow before the day was over to get through the popcorn which one of our sons popped in three installments. 'Morning, afternoon, and evening it's popcorn' is John's slogan. In the afternoon session it was gooey, sticky particles that would not cooperate with one another to form balls so this was happily consumed via adhesive teaspoons. Do you know of what I was reminded?

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a peaceful neighborhood. The sun shone so beautifully. The birds sang so sweetly. The flowers vied with one another to excel in brilliance. Ah! This was a good day to be alive, but only until Steam Engine Sam rolled his threshing machine out of its abiding place. There was brisk sweeping off of accumulated dust, a good bit of oiling, belts to repair, bolts to tighten and sundry other things until at last Steam Engine Sam and his patient partners were ready to take on the waiting grain shocks.

A bit of cloud appeared in the sky. Directly beneath this ominous cloud appeared Roscoe Raisafuss, declaring with vehemence that 'Surely my grain was cut first and you should start out at my farm', while portly and prosperous Henry A. Howler made a flying buggy-wheeled entrance into Sana's sun-drenched driveway. His case was quickly stated. 'Mine was riper when I cut it.' Poor Sam gripped his wrench in exasperation while concerned creases appeared in his weathered brow. Sam was a peace loving Christian man. The long days he could take but why always this wild blizzard of 'Me First?' Every year there was the same derogatory recurrence. Sure enough, here came Freddie Failure into Sam's tidy door-yard. Why didn't he go home and repair his bins so they would hold grain? Slowly Sam emerged from behind the dripping old water wagon. THIS was the curse of threshing. He knew this storm wouldn't abate until January or February when as the result of a big blow neighbors had no alternative except making up. How else could they exchange everything from butter to baking beans when the white winds cut them off from relieved relatives and the snug shop-keepers in the village?

At the close of day Stolid Sam drew his wife down beside him upon the worn divan. Perky, his dog, stretched himself prone at his feet. Devotedly he reached for his Bible to have it open to Psalms 133. 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forever more.'

Sam read the passage and re-read it until his wife sent questioning glances in his direction. Then brokenly poor Sam just wept for joy. This was never the way God wanted things to be in a neighborhood. How glad he was that earth was only a temporary dwelling place.

NOW I know why John's popcorn balls did not adhere. The syrup did not cook long enough. And another thing I am sure of. Much as we love steam engines and remember threshing days with longing, that old steam which Sam's case produced never did too much to congeal the neighborhood. It took a good old white blizzard to do that. Now as you store away your combine think of it as a blessing

Whoops I see the old shoes come flying. Where did I come in anyway? Or perhaps it is more important, HOW DO I GET OUT?