A weak breeze gently fluttered the sheets Mom had hung on the clothes line nearby. I lounged on the grass in the shade of a backyard tree wishing it wasn’t so hot. Leaning forward, I stared at the garden beyond the wet laundry. Pale green plants marked rows of tomatoes, beans and peas. All around them the soil was a dry, pale brown.
Behind me, I heard the farmhouse door open and Mom yell, “Dinner’s ready. Come and eat!”
The heat of the day made me feel heavy and sluggish. Although I looked forward to eating, I couldn’t make myself move quickly. As I slowly stumped to the house, Daddy joined me from where he had been working in the machine shed.
Noon meals were usually rewarmed leftovers. My mouth watered as I recognized the juicy roast chicken from Sunday, the day before. Mom was such a good cook; her leftovers were better than most people’s fresh starts.
After blessing our meal, Mom began to hand around bowls of chicken, peas and mashed potatoes. Daddy ate a few forkfuls before telling Mom, “The field corn is looking good, but it won’t for long if we don’t get rain soon.”
Mom nodded in agreement, “Same thing with the garden. With today’s heat, I’ve noticed that some of the vegetable plants are wilted.”
My father ominously predicted, “If the rest of the summer stays dry like this, all the area farmers will be in trouble. We need rain today. If it comes it will be worth a million-dollars!”
While growing up on the farm, I was used to hearing about how the weather was affecting us, the animals and our crops, but that day my parent’s conversation was worrisome.
I awoke at dawn the following morning to the sound of a long, growling roll of thunder. Outside the open window at my bedside, I heard the pleasant sound of raindrops pattering on the leaves of a nearby mountain ash tree. For the first time in the past week, my bedroom felt cool and comfortable. I smiled, turned over and pulled the sheet over my shoulders to go back to sleep.
Instead of one day of rain worth a million dollars, for the following two weeks the sky over Central Wisconsin sprinkled us with heavy showers every other day. While playing in the yard one day, we had one of these unexpected showers. Taking refuge in the milk house, I found Daddy in there with Tony, the farmer next door. Daddy was complaining, “If this rain doesn’t stop, all of my hay in the field is going to rot!”
As I grew up, my family liked to joke that Daddy was never happy. When it was dry, he worried that his corn and oat crops would fail. When it rained, he fussed about not being able to put dry alfalfa in the barn.
Recently I was reminded of how Daddy was never happy because the weather was not the way he wanted it to be by our typical Wisconsin climate and my own grumbles.
We had several days that were hot and sticky. It was so nasty outside that I didn’t want to step out of the house to get the mail or make a quick inspection of the garden even though it is sheltered by a plastic hoop building. I whined to my daughter, Tammie, “This heat and humidity feels awful. I hate it! The only creatures that seem to like it are the horrid clouds of gnats. They torment me when I’m already feeling so miserable.”
One afternoon soon after, a strong thunder storm came through the area. As I prepared for bed that evening, an icy breeze swept through an open window. I shivered, slammed the window shut, and complained, “Why does it have to be so cold? The damp chill makes my joints hurt!”
Moments later, pausing with a fully loaded toothbrush in mid-air, I exclaimed to my daughter in the next room, “Oh my gosh! I’ve just realized that I’m just like my father; never happy. I don’t like hot weather and I don’t like cold weather!”
Tammie walked into the room chuckling, “You and grandpa are like Goldilocks; she always wanted everything to be just right – not too hot, nor too cold.”