Laugh Tracks in the Dust

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Strange weather became the norm during late spring and early summer here in the Flint Hills. Early drought was followed by a couple weeks of near-solid rain and floods, which wuz followed by high heat and humidity, and that’s now being followed by several days of cloudy, cool, dry weather.

Inasmuch as I’m writing this column on July 3, after spending the cool, pleasant morning in the garden and doing chores, I’m thankful for a few days respite from the drenching humidity.

The yo-yo weather helped some of the garden and hurt others. After I got on top of the rampant weed growth, the green pea harvest was puny — barely enuf for a couple scrumptious meals with creamed new peas and new potatoes. Same story with the green beans. All the rain stunted the plants.

However, the spud harvest is excellent. I’ve dug a few hills of potatoes nearly every morning and I’ve already harvested at least 1 1/2 bushels, plus given away spuds to the good neighbors. I’ve still got one row to dig. And, the onions are nearing harvest and that’ll be a good yielding veggie.

The sweet corn harvest is just starting. Ol’ Nevah and I enjoyed our first four ears of sweet corn for supper last night. We should have corn-on-the-cob on the menu for the next few weeks.

And, I wuz pleasantly surprised with the harvest from our single early June peach tree. I didn’t think it pollenated well when it bloomed, but we harvested a couple peck baskets of peaches a week ago. They were tasty, but wormy, and, as the tree is a cling variety, difficult to can or freeze. But, we still canned a dozen or so quarts of peaches, plus enjoyed fresh peaches, and Nevah made a spectacular peach cobbler and a batch of fresh peach ice cream.

Our apricot tree is still too small for a good harvest, but my good friend Mocephus came to the rescue. He has two mature apricot trees and they were absolutely loaded with fruit which he generously shared. Again, we canned all the apricots we need for winter, ate a lot of fresh apricots, and today Nevah is making an apricot cobbler for the Fourth of July that I can’t wait to dig into.

Nevah and I worked the tomato and pepper patch this week and finally got all the plants caged, weeded, mulched, watered and fenced from the chickens. Now, all I’ve got to do is hope the weather cooperates and I can start gobbling up vine-ripened tomatoes in a couple of weeks. I’ll have to wait even longer for the hot pepper poppers that I love to eat.

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I’ve got an acre-sized plot that I planted to grain sorghum for the chicken flock. I broadcast the seed and tilled it in the night before we got our last good rain. It was perfect for germination and, from the looks of the plants, I think the plant population is too thick unless we get regular rains through September. That’s out of my hands, so I won’t worry about it.

Plus, the chickens are eating in the oat and wheat plots now so the old feed bill is easier to pay.

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Nevah and I are starting the Fourth of July festivities this evening at our neighbor Roman Kandel’s annual community feedbag and fireworks show. Folks bring covered dishes, the grills smoke a variety of meats, the drinks are cold and plentiful, and the fireworks over the top for a machine-shed party.

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I read a Gallup Poll story on the internet that gave the results of a survey sample of Americans and their “pride” in being an American. The results are discouraging to me.

Gallup says most folks in the U.S. say they are proud to be an American, including a slight majority, 54%, who are “extremely proud.” The percentage saying they are “extremely proud” is slightly lower than in recent years and down from peaks around 70% between 2002 and 2004, after 9/11.

In addition to the 54% who are extremely proud to be an American, 27% say they are “very proud,” 14% say they are “moderately proud,” 4% are “only a little proud” and 1% state that they are “not at all proud.” Certain groups are especially likely to say they are extremely proud. “Extreme pride” rises for each succeeding age group, from a low of 43% among those under 30 to a high of 64% among senior citizens. Extreme pride also varies regionally, from a high of 61% in the South to a low of 46% in the West. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans say they are extremely proud to be an American, much higher than the 47% of Democrats who say the same. As usual, independents are in the middle, at 53%.

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I’m proud to be amongst the senior citizens who are extremely proud to be an American. I think the number should be near 100% for all age groups and political persuasions. But, that’s just me thinking out loud.

Meanwhile, I’ll fly Old Glory, put my hand over my heart when I hear the Star Spangled Banner, be thankful for our military, and thank the Good Lord that I live in the good ol’ U.S.A.

Hope you enjoy the Fourth safely with family and friends. Going forward, try to see the good, try to change the bad, and try to be happy with what you got.  Ain’t nuthin’ more to say. Have a good ‘un.

 

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