Another Day in the Country
© Another Day in the Country
This morning, I heard a train coming through Ramona, and I grabbed my phone and recorded a bit of its plaintive call to send to my grandson in California.
I do this every once in a while — send him a sound bite to remind him of the country.
Sometimes it’s the incessant call of doves on a telephone wire. Another time it might be the sound of chickens talking to each other.
One day, by accident, I recorded a squeak of an old door to nesting boxes opening and closing and my exclamation of joy to see one blue egg available for breakfast. Even though the recording was an accident, I sent it anyway. I wanted to remind him of his time spent in Kansas.
We started calling this reminder of fun in Ramona “inoculating the next generation.”
I wanted them to remember the roots that our family had in Ramona. No matter where they lived, I wanted them to have a few days of country life — the simplicity of it — to remember.
While Dagfinnr was here this summer, I started listing (and taking pictures of) simple pleasures available in a tiny town.
“Turkey parades” was the first thing on the list.
Now tell me, where would you live but in a very small town to have a full-grown tom turkey on the loose, flirting with literally anyone or anything that can by?
This one belonged to my neighbor.
This turkey, named Gobbler, was desperate for company. There were chickens, ducks, and cats in his yard, but they didn’t fill the bill for his amorous intentions.
Out to the street he came, dipping and fanning his tail feathers at anyone or anything that approached.
He caused some excitement for a bit on the corner of 5th and D Sts., but then his owner decided enough is enough and proceeded to herd this elegantly feathered fellow down the street, back to his own yard, remonstrating him for his wanderlust as they went.
“Only in Ramona,” I said to my grandson, smiling.
I know that other towns have fireworks on the Fourth of July, but there’s nothing quite like seeing fireworks in Ramona.
Volunteer firefighters set up in a field across the tracks. As it gets dark, people begin to gather on this side of the tracks, which go past the edge of town. We put out lawn chairs or sit in the back of pickup trucks.
This year, Jeannie went around handing out glow-in-the-dark necklaces. People were chatting, calling back and forth to each other, making room for another truck to be able to pull in to see, and then it began.
Whoosh! Up in the air sped a rocket — no, two, three — opening up like umbrellas of light across the prairie.
We all gasped at the beauty, over and over again.
I’ve been lucky enough to be in Washington, D.C., on the Fourth of July to see humongous displays there, but no kidding, this was better, right here in the country. It was closer! It was ours!
Homemade ice cream is next on the list of country pleasures. No additives, just country cream and chocolate (our favorite) and LeeRoy to turn the handle of my parents’ old ice cream freezer.
Well, it does take ice and salt, too, but LeeRoy is one of the most important ingredients to success of our mission.
This year, three of us helped hold the churn steady as he made the last few turns. We wanted this delicacy to be as firm as possible. Then again, we eat it so fast, it hardly has a chance to melt.
Roasting ears — fresh corn —from Jirak Farms is another pleasure of country life in Ramona.
Most of the world has no idea what real fresh corn even tastes like. You pretty much have to cultivate your own or cultivate a neighbor to know the sweet deliciousness of really fresh corn that just been picked.
Sometimes that’s all we have for supper — corn — and maybe sliced tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden.
Playing games is another simple pleasure of country life. The Schuberts always have loved card games, pitch being a family favorite. Croquet used to be a big bit of family rivalry, and we’ve introduced a new game that I told you about last week — Kansas-style bocce ball.
I believe it was the summer of 1995, long before Jess and I moved to Ramona, when we were here for a couple of months. Hank and Gertie’s grandson was about 15 and in town for several weeks. He was getting bored one night, so I said to him, “Let’s make a board game about Ramona.”
We did just that. The other night, while celebrating my birthday with relatives, I got out that game and asked them to play with me.
There were 10 of us around the table, throwing dice, driving our tiny cars around the board.
“You do realize,” one of the kids said, “that this game ends up at the cemetery?”
We all laughed.
“Don’t be in such a rush to win,” I advised. “Just have fun,” spending another day in the country.