• Last modified 532 days ago (Oct. 5, 2017)


Another Day in the Country

How life goes

© Another Day in the Country

When the rain started coming down, I stopped cleaning the kitchen and just went out and lay down in the hammock and watched.

That’s one of the wonderful things to look forward to in retirement. Some of you reading this have a few years to work and toil until you can enjoy this luxury of meandering through your day.

Then again, to some of us, meandering isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

My cousin Gary stopped meandering the minute he moved back to Kansas. He’d retired a couple of months earlier from a nine-to-five job that had gotten wearisome and he was eager to be done.

However, he found the days getting longer once the garage was organized to perfection, the move all made, and the yard work done. He got himself a part-time job. He’s back doing what he loved when he was 20, being a cowboy.

“It’s great,” he said. “What would I be doing but driving everybody crazy.”

I’ve always had a job after I hit retirement age. For one thing, I needed the extra income to survive. For another, I needed the interaction. I’m not one for spending a lot of time in what I call “solitary confinement.” Only bad weather and abject poverty will keep me marooned indoors for any length of time.

I don’t need people around all the time — trees and flowers, wildlife, and pets are good company. I watch what goes on in my environment and it triggers ideas to write to you about. I see something interesting, like a crooked tree branch that needs pruning, and suddenly I have an idea for a walking stick and I’m off on an exploration of how to make and decorate them. I know I could never be a hermit. Besides, companionship is good for your health.

Some folk spend lots of time on the Internet, but that’s still a new and untried companion for me. Books are my familiar friends, and when I have a hankering to discover some new part of the world and can’t afford high airline prices, a good book will suffice, for now.

I’ve been wanting to go on one of those river cruises down the waterways of Europe. I’d love to see Holland in the spring or spend a summer in Tuscany. Since neither of those whims are going to happen anytime soon, I’m heading to the store for tulip bulbs to plant. As the squirrels say, “You can never have too many tulip bulbs in your garden.”

While I was reclining in the hammock, listening to the rain, my eyes fell upon the “Charlie Brown Evergreen” planted in my front yard. It’s the silliest, crooked, lopsy-doodle tree I’ve ever seen. My mother picked it out years ago thinking it was a tree like she’d had in her yard in Oregon. It wasn’t.

The tree does not grow straight. It doesn’t seem to have enough backbone to reach for the sky, so all of these years I’ve supplemented with a stick up it’s backside. Who wants a bent-over crooked tree in their front yard?

At one point I told my kids that the first Christmas they came back to Kansas on the actual 25th of December, we’d cut that tree off and decorate it. By the time they were able to be here on the actual day of Christmas, I’d grown rather fond of that crooked tree and hesitated to cut it down. So now, I guess, I’m committed.

As I lay in the hammock, I could see that the plastic ties that kept the stick in place were beginning to dig into the bark of the tree. My Charlie Brown Tree was growing. As soon as there was a lull in the rain I grabbed my pruner and cut that backbone stick away from the tree. I half expected that silly thing to lop over, but it didn’t.

I got back in the hammock, musing about rain and trees that seem weak and ties that were left on too long so that they left scars on the bark.

I decided that young trees are like children. We plant them, water them, feed them, and care for them. We want them to flourish and “look right,” so we bend and boss them, say “Stand up straight.” At some point we have to step away, remove the strictures (whatever they are), and give those young saplings a chance to make it on their own. If we hang on too long, they will carry scars, as surely as my Charlie Brown tree.

So I guess the suggestion for today is to be good to your kids. Feed them well, train them carefully, and then let them go; or later, you won’t be fret-free long enough to enjoy lying in your hammock when you retire, watching it rain, musing about life, on another day in the country.

Last modified Oct. 5, 2017