A gentle breeze that caresses the skin like a lover’s kiss and the warm sun that snuggles against my heart, summer solstice still a month distant. I hear the crickets whisper their sweet songs of courtship as the humming birds flit from flower imbibing nature’s nectar. The world has become the brilliant lover spring had promised as winter’s snow turned to gentle rain. I suppose it’s silly of me to feel this way on a Sunday afternoon. God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world. I am no longer a young man whose fancy has turned to love, not that the world belongs to them anyways. Most foolish people, the young. Why back in my time…J was just as foolish, perhaps more so.
My house backs up to a farmer’s meadow. From my Adirondack lawn chair I can observe acres of green meadow filled with hay. I don’t know the farmer, never met him. But I see him twice a summer. He gets two cuttings of hay each year for two years and then leaves it fallow and lets his cattle graze and fertilize the field. This is one of the fallow years and the cows have made their way from the pens to the fields with their young in tow. I sit in the sun and watch or stand and walk to the fence and see the calves nestled in the grass waiting for the noon day meal. Mothers having eaten enough grass will now gather their offspring to feed. Soon they are all laid down and chewing their cud while the little ones nestle against their moms.
It wasn’t all like this. The early days when I was in a hurry. I put to sea when I was fourteen. I lied about my age. Seems like over a hundred years ago. A boy could do that, not like now with all the laws and regulations and proofs and what have you. No, a lad could embark on some adventure, visit foreign lands. He’d learn to become tough, learn some discipline, learn some courage. Aye, he’d learn not to be a landlubber. Put some sway in his walk. Maybe smoke a pipe upside down. If a boy applied himself he might become an admiral or better yet a ship’s captain. I never saw an admiral who could walk a proper flying bridge in rough and dirty weather. Dirty weather gives a man character. He learns reliance on his own abilities and that of his shipmates.
Of course when I grew to be a young man I though of doing a tour of shore duty, you know, experience new things in life. So I left ship in Valparaiso and wondered around for a while until I came to the offices of a small mining company. The ad in the window said they need steady and dependable men. So I walked in and applied right there on the spot. They wanted truck drivers and I said if I could drive a freighter I could drive a truck. It seemed to me to be about the same. Just watch your heading and steer to a point on the horizon. So I hopped in behind the wheel and by the time I got to the top on the mountains I was driving better than the locals. Just goes to show what Yankee grit and determination can do. You know, the nights on the mountains get real dark and the stars blaze out at nights. Sometimes you think you can reach up and grab one.
After a while I had enough saved to head back home by way of airplane. we didn’t have jets back then, just props, sometimes two on each wing. The first place I landed was in Texas and some people were looking for what they called roustabouts. So I thought why not try my hand at working on oil rigs for a spell. So I worked on the rigs in west Texas and out in the Gulf of Mexico. In was in Biloxi that I met my darling. She was something, genteel and very pretty. I was taken in by the sort southern accent and I’m glad I was. Best thing I ever did in my line. Well, that and having a daughter. So I quit working on oil rigs and decided to finish my education at night while worked in a machine shop. The job wasn’t much at first. working on the line then operating a drill press and later on running a lathe. A man’s got to apply himself in life, learn new skills. Next thing you know I was going in with another fellow setting up our own machine shop. Life was good back then. We had some contracts for the Navy refitting equipment on some of their ships. Of course when the defense cut came we were pretty much wiped out.
But a man’s got to rely on his strengths and determination. By this time I had a degree in business and I signed on as a manager for a company in Vermont. We make specialized fork lifts and material handling equipment. Business was booming and I was doing quite well. We were saving money again and the future was looking bright. Finally I made enough to retire and here you see me today. A happy man. Well, your grandmother would have been happy to but the flu took her. It would have been nice to have her around, we could have watched together at the cows grazing in the grass. Life has its ups and downs, so take heed.
“Grandpa, you telling those wild tales again. Goodness, your grandson is only three.”