I remember as a kid going to Grandpa's farm. Life was different there. For one week each summer, I moved from my city life with air conditioning and nothing to do to a life where there was always something to do. Every morning the cows had to be milked, the garden weeded, and there was always a fish that needed to be caught. But more than anything I remember the stories. Grandpa didn't get to finish the 8th grade. The Depression got in the way. His mother died when he was very young, he spent hisadult life fighting in World War II and working on the assembly line at the GM plant. Their house didn't have air conditioning, but it did have huge trees in the yard. It also had some old bus seats that he had found somewhere sitting under the shade of the trees. If you happened to be in the area, and didn't have anything else to do, you could stop by, Grandma would get you a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea and you could argue politics, discuss the weather, or trade stories.
I heard about the .22 bullet he put in the wood stove in the little one room schoolhouse in Arkansas. There was the time he was aiming at some critter with his gun and, instead of hitting the critter, hit the inside of his pickup bed. Then there was the time he was in Germany in World War II and fell asleep on guard duty, only to be awakened by the hot breath of ...a cow!!! I heard about WPA camps, and the Depression and folk songs and growing up on a farm
The stories could go on and on and on for hours. If there wasn't a story, my Grandpa would argue politics with just about anyone who didn't think Roosevelt was the best president ever. And, if you would just sit still he would help you identify the calls of the Bob White Quail, or the the mocking bird, or the Whipporwhill. He showed me how to tell what at Elm (but he always pronounced it El-em) tree looked like, how to identify a shag bark hickory and how to find a good hickory nut to eat.
Somtimes we would just sit and whittle, or sit on a creek bank and hold our fishing poles (I hate to call what we did fishing, but we didn't ever catch very many)
Grandpa is gone, but rarely does a week go by that I don't think of him. Tonight is one of those nights. I realize we don't tell stories as a society anymore. Our stories are sit-coms or reality TV programs. I feel sorry for the kids who don't get to hear Grandpa's stories. We don't go out in the woods and see what a hickory Tree or an Oak, or a Elm tree look like, we find it on Wikipedia. We don't talk, we text, or Tweet, or Facebook.
I think my Grandpa would be suprised by the technology of today. No, let me take that back, I am pretty sure he would be aggarvated that people didn't want to pull into his driveway pull up a chair or a stump under the shade tree and tell stories. He wouldn't think much of texting, Facebook and Twitter. After all, who can tell a good story in only 140 characters.
I have to wonder. Are we today missing something? Where are the stories? Where is the time just sitting under the shade tree talking? Maybe it's time to put down the phone for a while, pull out a fishing pole or pull up an old stump and tell a story. I'll meet you outside under the shade tree.