Upcoming Ozark Vacation . . . Minus Me
One of the last nuclear-family memories that I retain is of Roaring River State Park in the Missouri Ozarks. I suppose that I remember this camping site because it was the final activity that my mother and father undertook with us boys as a family . . . back around the summer of 1966.
I recall spending a lot of time alone on this trip . . . and finding lots of fossils. Those stony remnants of past life seemed ubiquitous, a reminder that rocks had once been living. I also recall, as respite the summer heat, the cool air about Roaring River Spring, a spot with a lazy waterfall dripping 90 feet down into the large spring-fed pool where people tossed their random change. I waded in, briefly, wanting to gather coins -- but quickly splashed back out due to the bone-chilling, numbingly-cold water.
But that's not my point today. Rather, I want to note that in a little over a week, my wife and kids will leave me temporarily on my own as they head for hotter and more humid climes in the Arkansas Ozarks. I'll be 4 weeks alone as they explore the Ozark farms, countryside, and natural beauty that I grew up with but will be bitterly missing.
I had hoped that my kids might experience what I did, as I mentioned to my Uncle Cran:
[I]n another couple of weeks, you'll be dealing with Sun-Ae, Sa-Rah, and En-Uk.I was referring to the hard work of gathering hay bales in Arkansas's humid heat and tossing them onto a flatbed truck, which I had assumed that Uncle Cran would soon be doing, for he had previously reported:
Ah, summer, the season of kinfolks' annual return to the Ozarks . . . but don't let them just have fun on the farm. A little hay hauling never hurt anybody. I want the kids to experience what I experienced growing up. They'll then appreciate their soft lives better.
We are nearing four weeks with no measurable rainfall. Our garden is about finished, except for some tomatoes. Everything has dried up. Even the wild blackberries aren't going to make enough for a cobbler. Only the pasture is still green, but is starting to shrivel.Is that good or bad for hauling hay? Uncle Cran doesn't say . . . but he remarks on other points:
I am reminded of a song that the young couple, Almanzo and Laura (Ingalls) Wilder were singing on their six week, 600 mile trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in the summer of 1884. They had been married 8 years before, and had their 7 year old daughter Rose with them. At the time of their marriage, Almanzo had a 400 acre homestead, a new home he had just built, and a team of horses. For the next five years they had gone through drought, hailstorms, and lost crops every year, and losing their land. Then Almanzo and Laura both contracted diptheria and nearly died. Almanzo was crippled and barely able to work for years. For two years they lived with relatives, a brief move to Florida, back to Minnesota, then back to De Smet, South Dakota. Hearing of the town of Mansfield, called The Land of The Big Red Apple, they packed their few belongings into a covered buggy, and made the trip. Their daughter wrote about this years later. This is the song:After these mournful words that brought tears to my eyes . . . almost . . . Uncle Cran establishes his scholarly credentials by providing bibliographical details:
Oh Dakota land, sweet Dakota land!
As on thy burning soil I stand
And look away across the plains,
I wonder why it never rains!
Till Gabriel blows his trumpet sound
And says the rain has gone around.
We don't live here we only stay,
'Cause we're too poor to get away!
A LITTLE HOUSE SAMPLER, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, (ed, William Anderson). New York: Harper-Collins, Publisher.When's the copyright year on that 'sampler', Uncle Cran? Or are you saving the information for a rainy day?
But there are 30% chances today through Sunday, so I still have hopes that we will get rain soon.Good luck on that. Meanwhile, in the spirit of activities to which I hope my kinfolk will subject my kids, Uncle Cran reports:
I just finished building some decks and hanging a door for some people.Uncle Cran is a hanging judge . . . and 'a carpenter -- he builds houses, stores, and banks, chain-smokes Camel cigarettes, and hammers nails in planks, he's level on the level, shaves even every door, and voted for Eisenhower cause Lincoln won the war' . . . but he does other jobs, too:
Today I ran the brush hog over some of our pasture. Next week I hope to go over two more fields, then cut a little more hay.There's more from Uncle Cran, but it only concerns kinfolk. A "brush hog," by the way, is a mower attached to the back of a tractor, usually, that cuts to near-ground level the weeds and grass that spring up along the roadside (and elsewhere) . . . as long as the upkeep is kept up.
I was hoping for some agricultural torment for my children, but brush hogs don't provide it, and my cousin Mark Hodges, meanwhile, tells me:
My Dad has gone Mechanized with a round bailer and the days of the square bale [are buried] in the sands of time!! Thank the Lord!!! His hay hauling is a one man operation now with the magic of a deisel tractor (with sun shade/cup holder) and hydraulics!!I replied:
I would have considered that [round-bale solution] to be good news about 35 years ago, but since I'm now seeking some means of tormenting my [own] children, then I'm sorry to hear of this.Uncle Cran will have to find some other way to make my kids suffer. Pehaps some bulldogging.