From the time I was born untilI was about six, Daddy didn’t have a car. He had owned one once, but he sold it to get enough money to buy 20 acres from Uncle Asa. The 20 acres was right across the road from Uncle Asa’s and Aunt Lessie’s house, which was up on a little knoll.
Their youngest daughter was my first playmate. While Daddy plowed in his new field, Willadine and I played in a sandy area of their driveway. Daddy taught us how to make frog houses. Oh, did we build frog houses. What you do, see, is you put your foot down, cover it with sand, preferably a little bit moist. Then you pull your foot slowly out, leaving a nice frog apartment
Daddy would interrupt us now and then and get me to bring him a Mason jar of fresh water. When we had covered the area with frog houses, we’d go down to where a little bluff overlooked the road and the field. That’s were the sheep sorrel grew. What? It’s a kind of clover that has a sharp little taste to it. We’d munch on that and philosophy a little, as we listened to the sounds of spring all around us: Daddy plowing and hollering at old Dan now and then, and Mr. Reeves and Uncle Asa doing the same thing in their fields,
Their were the sounds of birds and the smell of freshly turned sod. It was wonderful! A little farther on, there were three tall sweet gums right by the side of the road on (now) our land, right by the side of the road. The trees leaned out over the road. We would climb way up in them to where we were right over the road. We’d laugh atthe looks on drivers’ faces when we dropped a bunch of sweet gum balls on their cars as they passed under us,
Later on, when I was eight years old, in fact, the very day I was eight years, I ran a John Deere planter in rows that Daddy layed off. From then on, I was pretty much a regular farm hand.
There was one thing Daddy hated almost as much as he hated drinking, smoking, gambling and fishing on Sundays. That was Bermuda grass. A stubborn belt of it ran right along side the road. We were always very careful to clean the plow after we had made a furrow by it, lest it would com off the plow somewhere else in the field and start a new patch.
That led to the use of something Daddy had heard about somewhere. It was a flame thrower. You filled the tank that you wore on your back with coal oil (kerosene to you city folks) and then pumped it up to a certain pressure. Then you lit the kerosene in the little nozzle, and out shot about a yard of blue flame. And there was a sound like jets passing right over (this was before there were jets to pass right over).
Oh this must have been a sight to passersby.We probably looked like space men. An occasional wagon would come by, and old couple of the community going to town. The mules would shy away. The lady on the spring seat with her husband would cling to him while he tried to steady the mules. Whoa! Easy! Don’t look at them, Madge. Don’t make eye contact. Whoosh, went the flame thrower.
This procedure burned the grass on top, but the cursed Bermuda grass came back healthier than ever..
Most of that 20 acres is now cut over timberland, except for about a third of it, where the white oaks grow. I like to sit there now. The last time I did that a large doe came right up to me as I did that… until I moved. Then she and her fawn snorted and took off.
I just like to sit there and remember, even the frog houses.