John Wetrosky, Columnist
The red-faced rooster pheasant took flight from the standing cornfield and headed out over the flooded cattails. It was a cold South Dakota morning on opening day of the state's pheasant hunting "opener." The big black Lab dog came thundering out of the cornfield as a shot rang out and the rooster disappeared out over the cattails with a puff of feathers drifting over the frozen swamp. I heard the crash of breaking ice as the dog, now unseen, headed for a bird she couldn't see.
I've somehow lost the piece of paper with my 2018 Minnesota Twins prediction scratched on it. The forecast must have slipped out of my computer somehow after a vicious thunderstorm sometime this summer. I couldn't dredge it up anywhere when I looked to reprint it. No matter. It doesn't matter at this point in the season. The team is packing their duffel bags as this is written. A merciful end to the season is in sight.
A broken guitar string in the middle of "Your Cheatin' Heart" stopped the music. We have a bluegrass festival coming to our community this week. It's a great assembly of some of the best bluegrass bands in the nation. Thousands of people from all walks of life will be filling those lawn chairs in front of the stage, tuning into the tight harmonies and great guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro and bass music. Tickets have been sold to folks from all parts of the United States and southern Canada.
I've done a lot of things in my life. What I am about to write took 30 years, the bulk of the air I have breathed. It was a good span. None of us know when we graduate from high school what the future might bring. Although the speakers at our graduations advise us to be studious, gregarious and future thinking, we all make our own way no matter what.
I knew it was coming. The low level "hint" that we go camping before the summer is over. I just heard it this morning while enjoying coffee on the back deck, watching the rose-breasted grosbeaks shelling sunflower seeds from the now dysfunctional bird feeder. The dysfunction caused by a recent visit by the masked bandit, raccoon No. 100.
The aroma of ether drifted across the parade grounds that December night so long ago. It smelled of danger. This is the time of year that parades stride across the land. It seems like every community has a parade of some sort during the summer months and even more months that occupy their calendars. We are having such a parade this week in our small community. It is called the Summerfest Parade.
"Be sure to put the shields in place on the power takeoff." Those were the warning words from my farm father as I hooked up the hay baler many years ago. I knew he would not have said those words if it hadn't been important. There was a potential danger there. In today's world the public is protected in almost every conceivable way by government regulations and warnings. You might think that human beings have become devoid of any sense at all of how to protect themselves without warning stickers and other safety features of the various implements and tools we use.
I learned certain things on that small Iowa farm that ensured I would reach the mellow age that I have now come to. Things that I did not learn from a textbook or in the school room. Things taught to me by my dad, mother and grandparents. Each rural teaching experience has stuck with me.
The ominous smell of nitrate hung heavy along the river bottom near the little fireworks shack. It was the week of the Fourth of July near the western Iowa border, and my dad turned the 1951 Chevy into the parking lot in front of the stand. Bright-colored signs featuring growling gorillas, hissing black cats and fanged snakes adorned the little wooden building that had seen its share of floods over the years. But, outward appearances meant nothing to a kid who accompanied his dad to this place that somehow seemed illegal.
Jerry's pig died. My Holstein calf developed a sprained front leg. Randy's sheep jumped the fence and headed up the blacktop toward LeMars. It was the week before the Plymouth County Fair. Our community is hosting the county fair again this year. It starts this week and there will be four fun-filled days, according to the posters around town. No doubt there will be visitors from around the area strolling through the midway and through the cattle barn and the chicken house.