Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: family gatherings

Grasshoppers, girls and family gatherings

grasshoppers-1195909_1280Grasshoppers were everywhere that summer. Those of us who wore pants learned to be careful about where we walked, but I think we all still had the experience of trying to discreetly deal with a grasshopper who had flown up inside the leg of our pants. Those who wore skirts were even more circumspect and didn’t spend much time outside of a motor vehicle or a house. Of course, grasshoppers had ways of getting into those places as well.

Ladies didn’t have much reason for spending time outdoors, anyway. Grasshoppers had stripped gardens of all that had been green. One could only wait for fall and hope there might be some potatoes or carrots in the ground. As for lawns, they could disappear in an afternoon, eaten right down to the ground.

The annual family gathering at grandpa and grandma’s farm was still on. As we drove in the tree lined driveway I looked at the sheltered area where we usually gathered to eat and visit. Wood was neatly stacked beside the fire pit, but I doubted that we would be eating on the picnic benches this year.

I saw some of my younger cousins just outside the house, boys who lived in far away cities. Lisa, who lived on the farm just across the road from Grandpa’s place was just pedaling her bike down the driveway. Lisa was a farm girl, she didn’t like grasshoppers but she wasn’t going to let them spoil her summer.

The boys, having never seen grasshoppers before, were both enthralled and apprehensive.  Jared had brought a paper coffee cup from the house. He timidly held it on its side on the ground and used its cover to try and coax a grasshopper into it. Apparently he succeeded, as he stood up triumphantly, putting the lid on the cup.

Seeing Lisa just getting off her bike, he walked over and said, “I’ve got something to show you.” He held the coffee cup out to her as he removed the lid, then leaned over to look into it himself. That was a mistake. The grasshopper, seeing light above him, flew straight up and bounced off Jared’s forehead. Cup and lid tumbled to the ground as Jared jumped back, his eyes wide.

The grasshopper just sat there on the ground beside the cup, perhaps stunned from the collision with Jared’s forehead. Lisa stooped down, picked up the cup in one hand, picked up the grasshopper with the other and put it back in the cup. After replacing the lid on the cup she tried to hand it back to Jared. He backed up a couple more steps, then turned around and headed into the house.

As Lisa tossed the cup in a nearby garbage can, she looked at me and asked “Why do boys always have to be such show-offs?” I didn’t have an answer, not being all that many years removed from Jared’s age myself.

Lisa went on into the house and headed for the kitchen. I followed to look for cousins more my age and saw the young boys clustered by the basement stairs, probably trying to scheme up some excitement that wouldn’t involve grasshoppers. As I walked by them, Jared looked up and asked “Why do girls always have to be such show-offs?”

Family gatherings

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i went for a walk down the road this afternoon.  I could see from quite a distance that there were a couple of calves dining on the roadside grass and all the extended family was gathered in the corner of the pasture, inside the fence, watching.  As I got closer, they all started telling the young ones to get back in where they belonged and where they would be safe from wandering humans.  Finally the two young steers walked around the corner of the fence to where the wire was lower and jumped over the top back into the pasture.  They were Charolais, a breed noted for their athletic ability.

About half a mile in the other direction from our house there is a pond that is used as a camping place for migrating Canada Geese.  There can be 500 to 1,000 of them there at any one time and the noise of their visiting gets quite loud at times.  Skeins of geese fly over top and greetings are shouted between the flyers and the campers.  At times, the whole clan will rise up off the pond and gather for a picnic in the stubble fields.  There are also Sandhill Cranes foraging in the stubble field just south of us and from time to time we will drive by a field that is turned white by huge flocks of Snow Geese.  Geese are social and gregarious birds, they love to get together and what? talk over their experiences of the summer? plan the route to their wintering grounds?  Whatever it is they are talking about, they do a lot of it and it all sounds like friendly chatter.

Chris and I are planning to attend a human family gathering on Saturday.  A bunch of family and friends will be getting together to help my cousin Lyle and his wife Fyrne celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.  We will have to travel more than three hours to get there, but this is the area where I lived until I was nine years old, so it will feel like I am going home.  We cousins don’t get together that often, but when we do, the noise of our visiting might not sound a whole lot different than a gathering of geese.

I was thinking today that gatherings such as these will become quite rare in coming generations.  Marriages break up, a lot of people never bother getting married, children aren’t sure where they fit in and extended families do not seem to hold together anymore.  Any couple that has been married 40, 50 or 60 years has experienced a lot of bumps in the road — misunderstandings, hurt feelings, unkind words, anger.  But little by little they have learned to understand one another a little better and to forgive one another.

After many years, when the children and grandchildren gather round, we see that it was worth it all to stick it out and repair the breaches in our relationship.  Eventually we come to realize that this person who has borne with us all these years, and suffered many wounds from our selfishness and carelessness, is a pretty special person.   Those who are ready to call it quits at the first bump in the road will never know that feeling.  And their children will never know the security and stability of a home where parents know that home and family are more important than feelings that soon pass.

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