My garden is primarily weed-free these days, and farmers markets do not officially begin until July 1. This leaves one week of "the calm before the storm." Summer gets busy with baking, canning, harvesting and spending one or two mornings a week at the market.
I am looking forward to seeing all my old friends and making a few new ones. So here I am, contemplating life in general.
As my years pile up beside the aches and pains in my joints, I think to myself, "Wow, life is so very different from when I was growing up," sometimes, I wish I could spend one day as a child. On that day, I would walk through the tall prairie grass inhaling the scent of wildflowers and enjoying the sun on my face. I would also ask my parents and grandparents some questions about their lives. They might not answer them, but I am hoping they would.
I ponder the change in our lives. We were free to roam the small towns of Fredonia and Gackle. Our parents wanted us out of their hair and only required our appearance at mealtime or for chores. We played with found objects and our imagination, climbed trees and inspected every living creature we encountered with curiosity and awe.
Life is so very different today. That got me thinking about whether my parents and grandparents found themselves thinking about that very same statement and frequently exclaiming how things were so different when they were growing up. As you know, if you are of my generation, we are starting to repeat ourselves in the course of a conversation.
My mom passed away five years ago in October, but my dad celebrated his 94th trip around the sun on June 23.
Being a journalist by trade, I decided to discover what transpired in his years on this planet. First off, he grew up on a farm around Wishek and never lived outside of North Dakota. He was born on Thursday, June 23, 1927. No doubt my grandmother did not take any maternity leave before attending to the daily chores of farm life. Probably that very same afternoon.
On June 13, 1927, Aviator Charles Lindbergh attended a ticker-tape parade down 5th Avenue in New York City after becoming the first person to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean in his monoplane, Spirit of St. Louis.
On June 26 of that year, the Cyclone roller coaster opens on Coney Island. And, on June 29, the '" Bird of Paradise" aircraft, a U.S. Army Air Corps Fokker tri-motor, completes the first transpacific flight from the mainland United States to Hawaii.
My dad was born one year before Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered mold on his bread and extracted penicillin to save the world from life-threatening infections.
Believe it or not, television was invented in 1927 by Philo Farnsworth. Before this time, the only modes of communication were letters or transistor radios. My dad regularly watches us on Facebook and carries a cell phone with text messaging. Can you imagine that? The change from party line telephones, or no telephone at all, to having one in a pocket?
I suppose that televisions were not very useful when he was a child because the farm had no electricity. In the 1930s, cooperatives applied for loans from the Rural Electronification Administration to bring electricity to rural areas. The cost to sign up was $5, and the monthly fee was $3.50. That must have been quite a decision to make following the Great Depression. It wasn't until sometime in the late 40s and 50s that many farm families in North Dakota were allowed to take advantage of this work-saving wonder.
These are only a few things that have changed the way we lived our lives since my father was born. When I marvel at how life has changed, I can only imagine how he feels living in a three-room apartment in an assisted living facility. And, being the second to the oldest sibling in his family, watching the others pass before him has got to be difficult. He lost a younger brother only about a week ago. If I counted correctly, the tables are tipping. If I counted correctly, I lost 15 aunts and uncles but have 16 remaining, plus my dad. Two in my favor the way I see it.
They all grew up on the farm and are all too aware of the cycle of life. Planting brings life; harvesting is the reward; seeds remain, and life goes on. You can't do anything about it except to choose to be happy.
LEt's end our contemplation on a positive note. You can reuse your 1927 calendar for the year 2022 as both calendars will be the same except the dates for Easter and other irregular holidays based on a lunisolar calendar.
Oh, wait, I forgot – one more important thing happened on the very day of my dad's birthday. My best friend from college, and to this day, thanks to technological advances, Karen Benson McMahon shares that very same birthday. That way, it's easy to remember to send her a card.
Yeah, you can wish Happy Birthday on Facebook, but there's no replacing that archaic method of communication, a card in the mail. Here's to another birthday for all of us.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.