Recently, I was making my way through crowded aisles at Wal-Mart as I went to
the pharmacy for a refill. I laughed to myself as I recalled a story Mom
Before I started school, Arthur and Zannamay Williams lived in the little red
tile house that Dad built for the families of fellows who worked for him.
Arthur drove the dairy truck and delivered bottled milk to customers every
morning. Mom and Zannamay became good friends.
One day Zannamay visited with Mom a few minutes as she was returning home from
a pre-Christmas shopping trip. Mom asked, “Were there a lot of shoppers in
“Oh, Mrs. Meyers,” Zannamay said, “they’re working the Dime Store just like
maggots working in an old ham!”
During the Depression, Dad used mules and scraper to open a productive vein of
soft coal that cropped out in a little creek on our farm. Air conditioning was
unheard of. One hot summer day, Mom and I cooled off where this creek flowed
over a layer of solid rock and spilled into a shallow pool, 2 feet below. It
was nice -- a miniature waterfall.
We bathed and let the water run over our heads on its way to the knee-deep
pool below. I shut my eyes and opened my mouth as the water poured over my
face. It was a treat tasting water that Mom drank in her cupped hands.
At supper time, Mom told Dad about our fun in the water. “I was surprised to
find that it came so fast and tasted so good,” she said. Dad explained that,
saying, “It came from upstream because we pumped out the coal mine today.”
On a busy day about 1956, Nancy and Gene -- later to be called Walt --wanted
me to go to see their “camp.” They had been playing under low branches of
trees that lined the field where Chub was planting corn. “OK,” I said,
“we’ll drive over there on our way to town.”
Gene puckered up to almost cry and said, “Mom, we can’t drive to our camp.”
“Why?” He hunted for a way to express his disappointment and said, “You’d
get there too fast.” We walked!
On a busy day, I stroll down a dirt path with Nancy and Gene, and we laugh at
the little fountains of dust plopping up between their bare toes. The kids
like to watch tumble bugs pushing their balls of cow dung in the dust. That
dung ball shelters eggs that will release infant bugs that will later push
their own dung balls in the dust. And so it goes.
In the ’50s, I wrote about tranquilizers: “Farming brings frustrations and
disappointments but it also offers ready-made tranquilizers. For example, when
Chub gets poison ivy or mice move into the house for winter I stroll around
the pond and watch the sun come up behind the willows. When the milk cow gets
lacerations from a barbed wire fence, I smooth out the stress by walking a
woodsy path and inhaling the fragrance of wet moss and wild mushrooms.
Donning my boots at daybreak, I tramp through dew-covered pastures where
crocheted spider webs tie tall weeds together, just to sort things out. It’s
healing, too, when I donate a pint of blood to strengthen the thread of life
of a person I’ll never meet. And at midnight, when the house is quiet, to open
Grandma Henry’s Bible and read, “I am the light of the world and he who
follows me shall not walk in darkness.” Great healers, my tranquilizers!