Normally, on this first day of Summer, I would be thinking about the days coming up, the precious few days when I finally get to feel the warmth that doesn’t come from being wrapped in a blanket or wearing a coat. Yes, Summer can be sweltering, and I can find myself wishing for a little cooler temperature, but I don’t want it to be much cooler. I am a summer person. I like heat. I like wearing shorts and sandals, rather than sweaters and coats.
This year is a rather odd year…not that we haven’t had years of unusual weather…and no, I don’t buy into the whole global warming, climate change, or whatever they are calling it these days. Weather had natural patterns that have existed since time began, and this is nothing new. Nevertheless, when we have one of those years of an unusually cold Spring, and unusually harsh Winter, and somehow a fairly normal Fall, I find myself waiting for normalcy, impatiently!!
This has been one of those years, and I’m ready for the end of Spring. Our Winter was harsh, with lots of snow and this Spring has been full of thunderstorms and pouring rain…to the point of flash flooding and lots of warnings for lightning, hail, tornadoes, and floods. Those things aren’t all that unusual, with the possible exception of the floods, but the thing I really noticed was the cold temperatures. Normally as we approach the end of June, I am wearing shorts and t-shirts when I go out for my early morning walk. This year, however, I have been wearing pants and a jacket to keep me warm. Of course, by the time I am almost finished, I’m warm enough to go without a jacket…except for the clouds. Clouds just keep things cooler.
As I was walking these past few mornings, I thought about just how much cooler it had been this Spring, and I hoped that as the Summer arrived, it would finally begin to warm up. I also thought about another Summer about 20 years ago or so. The Spring had been cold that year too, and Summer hadn’t improved much. In fact, it was the coldest Summer I had ever remembered. Infact, it was as if Summer never arrived that year. That makes for the feeling of a long cold Winter, even though there were some warm days. The good thing about the colder rainy weather, however, was that the grass, and several other things grew better that they had in years. I guess that’s a plus, but if you don’t mind, I’ll take the warmer weather, with the leaves on the trees and the deer by the trail. Those things make my whole day.
In days gone by, there just weren’t a lot of construction companies out west. People built their own houses. Of course, if a man has to build his own house, you can bet it took him a while to complete it. I don’t really think a lot of people built their house all by themselves however, because if they lived anywhere near the neighbors, people just seemed to show up to help. I’m not sure just how they knew that you were in the process of building a house or barn back in the old west, but somehow they did, and so they came to help. There was a camaraderie back then that doesn’t always exist today. Too many people don’t want to get involved, or they just decide that they are too busy with their own lives to go and spend time helping others.
With droughts and thunderstorms causing buildings to burn, and no fire trucks or fire stations available, your neighbors always seemed to be the first responders to fire emergencies, or any other emergency, for that matter. Unfortunately with the neighbors living so far away from each other, the house or barn was usually gone before anyone could get there to help you put out the fire, and when all you are using is a bucket and a wet towel, it’s pretty much a lost cause before you even start. Nevertheless, they were right there to help you rebuild, so that you weren’t left without shelter for your family or your animals. That was just how neighbors were in the old west.
When you think about it, it was how they had to be in order to survive. With the Indian uprisings, and the old west outlaws, the pioneers had to stick together. There wasn’t a lot of lumber companies, and if they homesteaded a piece of land with an abundance of trees on it, they could cut down the trees to clear the field, and use the logs to build the cabin too. That was doing it the hard way, of course, so having friendly neighbors to help you get the job done before winter set in was essential. And of course, meeting the neighbors and offering to help them with their house or barn always meant a big potluck dinner and barn dance when the work was done. They didn’t have to get all dressed up and go somewhere fancy to have a great evening, they just got together with the neighbors and had a hoe down.
With time and modern equipment, came more construction companies, big cities, and less neighborly camaraderie. In fact, people these days are as likely not to know their neighbors as they are to know them. Sad when you think about it. We don’t live in such a big city, that all of that has gone away. Our neighbor, Bill has a snow blower, and if it snows while we are at work, he is out there with that snow blower doing the sidewalks and driveways for about half the block. It’s very nice for Bob to be able to come home and not have to get out the and shovel every thing off. Of course, Bill knows that anytime he needs help, all he has to do is ask, because we will be there with bells on, and likely as not, Bob is out there doing something for Bill before he has a chance to ask. I love our neighbors, and after all, that is what being neighborly is all about.