Friday, June 22, 2007

Rainy Day Memories

As I drove in the rain today I celebrated because the rain was steady and full.  It was neither harsh and running too fast off the dry, chapped soil or to little too late.  It was a soaking rain, one much needed by those around my piece of the hills.

As I drove I thought back to my childhood and the deep hollers of eastern Kentucky, my family's ancestral home for over 250 years deep in Appalachia.  Back home folks didn't have huge expanses of grass.  Where grass did grow was kept short with a push mower or perhaps a scythe or sickle.  Most times the yard was loose gravel or hard yellow dirt where the dogs would lay and chickens scratch or chase the wanderin' junebug.  Rain would quickly run off or turn the crusty yellow to slick orange mud.

The drought was different then too.  Most of my kin lived close to a creek, branch or shallow river.  The most vivid image of those times is that of uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins walking trip after trip from the creek or stream with some type of metal bucket, lard bucket, coffee can, empty fruit can or perhaps a galvanized bucket from the house...back and forth time after time after time, filling bucket or can with creek water and walking into the garden or 'baccer patch to slowly pour water on the thirsty plants.  They poured slow so every drop would go to the shrunken roots and not run off and be wasted.

Old backs would bend, knees creak as the walked, as they stooped and as they poured nourishment on tomatoes, taters, beans, corn and the cash crop of 'baccer.  It was nonstop work that happened each day, never ending, never complained about because each knew one fact... this is our livelihood, this is our food, these are the things that sustain us.  We will not let them die, we will not let them dry up.

That is the image of my youth I see and share today - wet spots around precious plants, waitin' in the dusty yellow clay, waiting their turn patiently for a drink. 

Good folks, steady and careful walking the circle of life.
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