Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life on a Rutted Dirt Road
(Part II)

This is not the rutted dirt road I grew up on, but it is very similar.
The greatest difference would be that my road was much
more curvy, with hills and hollows and lots of trees.

So, the rutted dirt road presented obstacles to us every day; obstacles that were sometimes much worse than at others.  On some days, the obstacles were mere annoyances.  The ruts were minor and the hazard was minimal.  On other days, the obstacles presented real hazards to our safety.  The mud or frozen surface was slick and keeping the old pick-up between the ditches required finesse from Daddy’s very skillful hands.
We rode that road in all seasons of our life.  We were in our work clothing and bouncing around in the back of that old pick-up.  We were in our school clothes and riding the school bus as it jumped and jagged about the surface or in the cab of the pick-up as we drove to the grocery.  We were in our ‘Sunday’ clothes and trying desperately to stay clean and pressed as we drove to church on a Sunday morning.

The pick-up had no air conditioning, so it was hot in the summer and our hair was always, always windblown!  I can remember very few times when the windows weren’t down and the wind cascading through our tresses. In the winter, it seemed to me that the heater wasn’t working well and we were freezing cold or it was working too well and we were sweating.  Never satisfied, Momma would say!

When I think of the lessons I learned on that rutted dirt road, it often brings tears to my eyes.  From my earliest childhood, I remember knowing that Momma and Daddy loved us.  I don’t know that I ever questioned that fact.  I didn’t like some of their decisions and that certainly got worse as I grew older, but I don’t remember questioning the fact that they loved us.
Our paternal grandparents lived just down the road.  Daddy was given land on which to build our home from Paw’s farm.  Paw and Maw McDonald doted on us!  A great Saturday was when we were allowed to go to the grocery with Paw and Maw because we knew we were coming home with just about whatever we asked for!

Not only were we loved, but we were disciplined and taught self-respect and respect for others.  Meals were eaten at the table. Momma cooked the food, put it on the table and we ate.  We were not allowed to complain or leave the table before we had eaten our meal.
Chores were split and assigned from my earliest remembrance. We tried to complain but Momma and Daddy weren’t ones for hearing complaints. It was hushed in quick order, sometimes causing a lot of tears and attempts at extended ‘snubbing’.  Daddy, however, didn’t like ‘snubbing’ and would put an end to that in short order; usually by announcing that, unless the ‘snubbing’ stopped, he would give us something to ‘snub’ about!  I must admit that I failed to listen to that advice on an occasion or two; it didn’t take long to learn better!

The rutted dirt road was our connection to our neighbors and to any other necessity of life not provided on the farm.  Some of my fondest memories are of getting into our play clothes, jumping into the back of the pick-up and heading out to my maternal grandparent’s home for a family gathering.

Momma was one of nine children and there were lots of cousins.  We would run and play until any normal individual would have been completely exhausted, but we never seemed to be too tired to run some more.  The women cooked, the children played and the men…..well, I’m not really sure what the men did, to tell the truth!
When the food was ready, the men were seated and ate first.  Then, the children were fed.  Lastly, the women would finally sit down to eat and visit after everyone else had been waited on.  Some say that’s some sort of ‘diss’ on the women; much to the contrary!  It was exactly what the women wanted.  The men were fed, the kids were fed and the women could now sit down and eat and visit without interruption from the kids….big or small!

We cared about our neighbors along that rutted dirt road and they cared about us.  A tornado hit our house in the pre-dawn hours one summer morning, removing one side of our roof, taking our front porch and damaging other areas of the house and other farm buildings.  Within an hour, men from neighboring farms were gathered in our lawn and on our rooftop assessing the situation and determining what would be needed to make the repairs.  Once the materials were figured, they were off to the local hardware store to make the purchases and replace the roof.  By day’s end, the roof was replaced, the porch was floored and roofed and the trash was hauled away.
Ladies came with food and the men were fed around noon.  By supper time, the work was done and everyone began the departure.  No one talked about money or who would pay; it was understood that everyone did what they could to help us and the repairs were made with no debt left behind.

So, life on that rutted dirt road wasn’t bad at all.  It afforded opportunities to know myself better, to know my family better and to know and appreciate the blessings of good neighbors and the idea of ‘doing unto others’ living before my eyes.  The Golden Rule wasn’t a theory to us, it was how we lived. 
I’m not through with this subject, so come back again….I rarely run out of something to say!

“Treat others just as you want to be treated.”

                                               Luke 6:31  (CEV)


Anonymous said...

Hi Diane!

We grew up in our small communities with neighbors helping each other. I think that is what surprised me so much when we moved away from our small West TN communities. When Caleb was a baby I had something happen to the car one day. The automatic locks would trigger when the door closed sometimes so Caleb and I were out in the snow. I was locked out of my car. The keys to our condo were IN the car. Todd was in meetings in Boston and I was in tears. I called a friend. The first question was, "Do you guys have AAA?" Uh, I had never in my life NEEDED AAA. Neither did any of our neighbors. We depended on each other and became a part of each other's lives...the everyday frustrations (when we were locked out) and the big moments (when there was a tornado that damaged someone's house). That was definitely a moment when I knew the culture had shifted and the expectation of our closest neighbors was that we would have AAA. Actually the friend I called did call her husband. He came and got the car door open for me & Caleb. (He probably had to Google "how to open a locked car door." Ha!) Anyway we became good friends and spent Easter and Mother's Day in her grandparents small New England farmhouse packed to the gills with her aunts, uncles and cousins. We felt so at home! <3 I doubt that we would have shared a holiday meal or become lifelong friends with a AAA rep!!! :) Self-reliance has its place, but I think the huge doses we see in our culture that expects neighbors to have AAA can bring isolation instead of growing relationships. Nothing against AAA, but I love to be a part of neighbors helping neighbors. :)
Love you! your cousin Christie

Jada's Gigi said...

Christie has some great and community are so important in our lives and in our independent world today it just "isn't done" much anymore.....I miss it too.

Trish said...

Girl, I am sooo homesick after reading this wonderful Post! I miss the red dirt roads that I traveled as a girl. Now, I am surrounded by concrete and black top BUT those red dirt roads beckon me still...for they connect my past and help me look to the future!!! I love you!

Mrs. Mac said...

This reminded me of a story from Laura Ingalls Wilder .. from 'Little House on the Prairie' .. she often wrote about feeding the neighbors after they helped with the harvest .. Such community with your neighbors to help, fix, get fed, and feel blessed for helping a neighbor in need without sending them a bill.