Reminiscing About a Simpler Life

Life is not easy. The challenges and chores of daily living often leaves us longing for a simpler life. I remember growing up in a small town where hard work never got in the way of good ol' conversation and fellowship with your neighbors. Sometimes that was a bad thing because people knew too much about the goings on in your town, and everyone knew everyone and they all knew your business!

More often than not, neighbors could trust one another to have each other's backs. It was not uncommon for Sunday visits, game nights with families at one or the other's house, and music - lots of music - mostly gospel or country music.

Say what you will about the beer-drinkin', dog-dyin', wife leavin' heartache of a country song, but country music, like gospel, often told the story of our lives through music. The legendary ballads narrated the stories of so many people with shared experiences. Life wasn't easy, yet it was simpler.

Most of my family grew up for generations in a small mountain community in Colorado. Winters were harsh with several feet of snow blanketing the winter months and making it difficult to travel. We would often have to shovel ourselves a path to the school bus early in the morning (as we shoved a Pop-Tart in our mouths as we ran out the door), make an hour-long trek to school, twenty miles away, in order to make the 8:00 AM bell. At 4:00 PM, we made our journey home, arriving just in time for dinner. Today's kids have it easy. And we didn't have snow days. It didn't matter if it snowed twenty feet (not that far fetched), or one inch, we WENT TO SCHOOL!

In high school, we teenagers worked! I actually landed my first real paying job at around eleven, working for a resort hotel as a dishwasher. I hated every minute of it, and, honestly, I didn't get to enjoy the money because it often went to help my parents pay bills and keep a roof over our head. They had already worked two-three jobs each to make ends meet, so my added contribution helped eliminate one of their jobs. And I never regretted it for one moment! Life wasn't easy, but it was simpler.

My grandparents and aunt and uncle eventually moved from that mountain town to eastern Colorado near the Kansas border - farm country! And I used to love the 3 1/2 hour journey to go visit them. I hated the trip, but loved when we got there.

They each lived in two-story farm houses about a mile from each other. My grandparents had a larger plantation style home, a big red barn, and surrounded by wheat fields and sunflowers. My aunt and uncle lived in a smaller, farm house that had a huge front porch where we used to like to sit and enjoy each other's company. Although they were surrounded by fields, as well, they also had fields of loose-running cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats - all that would eventually make their way to the meat markets across America.

My dear aunt - she was a tough, rugged woman and one of my dearest friends from the time I was born. She recently passed last November, but we shared an incredible life together. Bless her heart, she wasn't afraid of butchering an animal, and often went to help out at the meat packing plant. One day she invited us to go watch how they castrate bulls and package their testicles for a common delicacy in Colorado, known as "Rocky Mountain Oysters." There you go. The secret is out! If you ever see them on a menu in Colorado or someone offers them to you, you now know what you are about to endure.

That's not the worst part. I have a tremendous weakness when it comes to blood. I can maintain my composure in the midst of crisis, but blood gets me every time. I will pass out, throw up, and be out of commission for at least an hour when blood is involved. I truly admire hunters and I wholeheartedly love my red meat (cooked medium well to well, of course), and I so greatly appreciate the amazing ranchers and farmers for providing my sirloin. But, I can't do slaughter houses or witness butchering anything. I have no problem shooting an animal for food or in defense. But, someone else is going to have to dress it. And the older I get the weaker my stomach gets. I simply cannot do it. Life is never easy. But, it was much simpler.

I remember early one morning, while staying at my grandparent's house, just as the sun broke over the horizon, a loud, roaring plane came flying over the roof. It awakened us out of a deep sleep! It was so low it vibrated the windows in the house! That was my first experience with a crop-duster - a small plane that flies low and "dusts" the crops with insecticides. It was often so hot in the heat of summer, we would sleep with the windows open at night, and we would often put a box fan in the window to try to circulate the air. That was our air conditioning. It didn't work well. If anything it just made if feel like you were sleeping in front of a hair or clothes dryer.