Thursday, June 17, 2010
Dark Nights and Dusty Roads
This week has been one of those unbearably hot streaks. Temperatures have roared into the upper 90's every day for nearly two weeks now. It's actually quite an unusual phenomenon here in South Florida. Usually by the time the mercury creeps into the low 90's, along comes a thunderstorm and cools everything down. The storms are coming still, but they don't seem to roll in this year until near dark. By then....whew! The last couple weeks here have seemed to me more like the days in North Florida when I was growing up....summers like this were the norm up there...HOT and DUSTY.
So, anyway...that all put me in mind of those days gone. School was out and once my daily duties "tending tomato plants, feeding the stock, and cleaning out the steer pens" were done...the day was mine to do with whatever a twelve year old boy could come up with. The dust from that old dirt road still wafts up in my nose when I think of it. It took about fifteen minutes of hard traveling to get down to Roy's house. He usually had more free time than me and would be out and about 'time I got there. Thinking back now, I realize that most day's it was hotter than a humming bird layin a goose egg..., but I also remember that it was "no big deal"...that's just the way it was. Roy and I would leave his house mid morning and head for the woods and fields to see what devilment we could find in the day. Occassional dips in the creek or pond would be followed by tree climbing, rock throwing, hole digging or maybe fort building. We worked awfully hard at playing. The next thing you know ol Sol had set and we knew Mama was mad cause we had missed supper again. I think those days are why food still is no big deal to me. Roy and I both are still pretty much the same size we were back then. Aside from cutting open an occassional palmetto fan and chewing up the bud, breakfast may be all we ate some days.
Occassionally, our cousin "city boy" Donnie would catch a ride out with somebody to spend the day or weekend with us. Roy and I took great joy in "funnin" with ole Donnie. He just didn't know no better. My kid sister somedays tried to keep up too. Although she could stay closer with us than Donnie. She was meaner than a just cut hog. I ain't fussin about that... cause I made her that way. I remember gettin her all wound up one day and turning her loose on Roy. Boy, she had him huntin bigger country. If you want an idea how bad she was...just take a couple jabs at a bobcat with a sharp stick. I mean she would trim your tree tops. Kinda like fighting a windmill in a tornado. Anyway, back to Donnie....when he came over we usually wound up camping out with the mosquito's, bugs, bats and bobcats...we just didn't know any different. Campfires and coon hunts, bare feet and baseballs. Too busy being boys to get into trouble. Days were hot, nights were dark and the stars were bright. Life was good...I can't help but drift back there sometimes. The view bobs around in my mind; sort of like looking back out of the truck window as you drive away. Scenes and memories bouncing around in and out of focus...one unfinished memory gives way to another...never quite playing through.
So now I see Ryan coming in the back door. He's no longer a 12 year old of course, but his job does keep him outside in this heat all day. Its good for him though. Keeps him focused on school and a future. At 20 years old he is much a man now. Big muscle bound fella six feet long and somewhere north of 275 pounds. He's always reminded me of myself (if I weighed a hundred pounds more) and given the choice I know he would have led my childhood instead of his own. Unfortunately, my work has moved us a couple of times and we've had to live in town most all of his life. But none of it has kept him from "being as big a red neck as his daddy was "or is"....not sure if there's any cure for that disease. When he's not at school or work, he's in the woods. I badger him about it now and then, but there's more dangerous animals in town these days than in the woods...He'll be OK. I just want him to "keep his options open"
I think I'll go talk with him a little while now. Those opportunities are quickly evaporating.....one day soon, he'll be looking back at his own dusty roads.