Over the years, I’ve seen some pretty miserable weather. Beyond a doubt, winter weather has produced the most memorable temperatures, but summer can do it, too. Summer might be in second place, but.
Just check the picture. That was a couple of days ago. Maybe I just don’t remember the last time that happened here. Probably it has gotten that hot, but I didn’t have a nice digital thermostat to bring my attention to it. There’s something about a digital in-your-face notice that is somehow more alarming. More memorable.
Maybe I’d be the better for not having any thermometer at all. Then, hot is just hot.
I remember baling oat straw in Iowa, growing up on the farm there. That was during a time when I hardly ever wore a shirt, and those oat fibers would get up under your armpits and in your elbows. Itch? Wow.
We had a rain barrel at the corner of the house, and I remember how good it felt to take a stand-up bath in that nice soft rainwater, come the end of a day. Wash those pokey oat barbs away.
That almost made the itch of baling straw worthwhile.
I left home when I was 16 and went to work for a farmer, who paid me thirty-five bucks and room and board, in return for which I got Sunday off. The other six days? Dark to dark. I learned over that summer how good I had it at home. When the summer was over, I apologized to my parents for being a dumb s…..! And they let me come home.
But one day later in the summer the farmer and I were combining oats, out in the field, some five miles from his home. We took a lunch break, and before starting everything up again, got out the grease gun and began lubricating all the grease fittings.
The grease gun went empty. Back then, you didn’t go to the store and buy nice grease-filled cardboard tubes, which went back into the grease gun quite handily.
Nope. Back then, you had a five-gallon can of grease, into which you plunged the opened-up grease gun. Then you pulled back against a really strong spring and sucked the grease gun full. At that point you locked the plunger open by snapping the handle over into a groove, which held that powerful spring–which had to be powerful to push the grease back out when you pumped the handle.
I was pretty strong, but it was a strong pull to suck the gun full of grease against the pressure of the spring. I got the gun full of grease, I locked the plunger shaft into its locking click. I turned around and the farmer had the crank end in his hands, so I pointed the gun at him so he could screw the pumping mechanism back on.
Apparently I didn’t have the plunger solidly locked open. Just as I pointed it at him, the plunger let go. The entire load of grease hit him in the chest, solidly enough to back him up a step.
He wore what we now call wife-beater tee shirts, open. Plus it was hot. And he was sweaty. Most of the grease hit him right under his chin, and he had a hairy chest. PLOP!
You know, he never said anything.
He didn’t have to.
It was hot. The oat straws and stuff were itchy. He cleaned it off well as he could, and put in the rest of the day. That had to be miserable.
He never said anything. Over the years, it’s helped me keep my trap shut when someone did something stupid that affected me in not-so-nice ways. (Usually my kids; but not always.)
That’s what hot weather brings back to me.