It is easy to get caught up in the business of the day, much of which you cannot influence much more than casting your vote and walking on. There has been much written about 2020, the year of the whirlpool, lurking in the form of weather, politics, unrest and Covid. It is easy to get sucked into this whirlpool and lose your bearing. Sharon and I packed a handful of snacks, loaded Tazzy in the car and went on an exploration of beautiful SW Missouri. We stayed on country roads, saw and smelled country road things and recharged our batteries. We were reminded that in this techno age, it is the simple things that really matter.
Somewhere on a numbered county road we drove up on this beautiful pair of sorrel mules that were kind enough to trudge up to the fence and talk with Tazzy. Missouri mules have a place in history and are known for many positive attributes and more than one vexing trait. These two guys, that I immediately named “Ben and Jerry” were buddies and probably didn’t get many visitors who would stop and talk a bit. Tazzy did most of the talking but soon calmed down. To some folks, they were just long eared critters, but to me, they were a reminder of days past. I immediately recalled the hours that I spent staring at the south end of a northbound mule pulling a tobacco drag in South Carolina when I was a sub-teen kid. It was then that I learned that you co-exist with mules not master them.
We drove by a property that was for sale. It was interesting in that it appeared very old and new at the same time. Someone had taken a home built in 1891 and upgraded it with windows, siding and trim in a way that captured two distinct eras. I suppose someone will take a chance on this old place, but to me it was scary. Structural integrity, electrical wiring and old plumbing conjured up memories of a cinder block house in South Carolina, with central oil stove heat and no air conditioning back in my mule skinner days.
We drove through beautiful river bottoms, large walnut groves and a surprising number of row crop operations that I had no idea existed in this part of the country. Every once in awhile, our cultural upbringing was reinforced by a Trump sign, our only connection to politics as we drove with the radio off. For the most part, fences were good, gates closed and tight and yards kept clean and junk free. Many homes were older than we were but the pride in ownership was evident. Old pickup trucks were co-mingled with the latest Detroit offerings and automobiles tended to be US made. Waves from folks working their cattle or ground were common and you just felt good among these folks.
What is the point here? What is going on inside the Washington Beltway is not going to change one damned thing in the real America that we drove through. Ben and Jerry will still saunter up to the fence to make new friends, the beans will be cut and sold and cattle raised. Dinners will be the same delicious fare as in years past, with garden produce and home raised beef on the table. Fences will be repaired and the critters fed and/or milked right on time. Before anything is thrown away an effort will be made to fix it, unlike the fast paced urban existence when hesitancy gets the offending device a trip to the trash can without as much as a cursory attempt to repair it. Firewood will be cut, split and stacked and folks will go to church on Sunday. Instead of listening to the political yammering that is incessant on the radio, these folks will be most interested in the weather, crop and beef market reports. They recognize the things they cannot change and change the things that need changing. God bless them as they can teach the rest of us the value of the simple things in life.
In the country, when folks make a promise…they keep it, without fail, which makes them careful with promises. There aren’t any feed stores or Dollar Generals being burned and looted in this part of our world. The reason why is rooted in a long, proud history of rural America, where change is slow and only if we want it. You cannot burn and pillage your way into changing things out here.
Have a great weekend, turn the radio and television off, saddle up, and take a drive. There is more to America than the crap in Washington. We’ve all done what we can to influence the situation…..now we’re along for the ride.