Barefoot Memories of a Hillbilly

Where the Grass is Green

I can't imagine having never have gone to sleep with the sound of rain on a tin roof, or the music of katydids or peeper frogs. I can't imagine never having stood in the middle of a field knowing I was the only person within eyesight. I can't imagine never having watched the stars or meteor showers wrapped in the blanket of country nighttime. I can't imagine never having caught grasshoppers in the rustling grass, or pulled red worms from under rocks to stuff into the Prince Albert can to tote along to a fishing hole. I can't imagine never having scaled a tree or climbed in a barn or swung from a grapevine or chewed tender tea berry leaves fresh pulled from the wooded shelter of the hills. I can't imagine never having chased a rabbit from the garden, or having caught a glimpse of the back quarter of a red fox silently heading around the ridge.

I can't imagine the number of people who have never spent a day in the comfort and protection of what is simply known as "home" to me. I've been to the cities, their residences piled atop each other like childrens blocks, even lived in a few, but never felt comfortable or protected like home. I've looked for the stars in the neon lite sky, but the stars, like me, are lost in the glow of hundreds of thousands of people living in the box of their geographical choice.

Children no longer know where their food comes from, thinking it was born in decorative packages in the back of chain supermarkets. Kids no longer know where to look for the setting hen's hidden nest, or where the best blackberries grow. They will never know the sweet taste of melon while sitting in the middle of a sun warmed field, or the taste of wild strawberries sweetened by nature's own blessings. They will never know the amusement of squirting milk to a barnyard cat fresh from Bossy's udder. They will never know the rhythmic sound of butter being churned or a whippoorwill singing the stars to sleep. Kids will never know the security or freedom of riding bikes or playing softball in a dirt lot.

Gone are the days of dropping by to enjoy an evening chat sitting under a shade tree while dusk gathers around. No babies lying on grandma's old quilt learning to chew on their toes and cherub giggles as butterflies tease from above. I can't imagine lightening bugs wanting to live in the hot blaze of the constantly lit city. I can't imagine the screech owl's hag-like cackle filtering thru the downtown intersections. Where would the red headed woodpecker fit in? And the bullfrogs, or tree frogs.

Yes, I found one of those boxes to survive in for a time, but I found my way home. The lights were pretty, for a while. The noise was tolerable, for a while. The manicured grass was pretty, for a while. But I heard the call. I hear the tree frog, the Jenny wren, the cricket and the bawling of a calf. I heard them deep inside my soul. I heard them calling to come home to watch the change of leaf colors and seasons sorting thru the pages of the calendar. I heard the twinkle of stars in the night sky and the patter of rain against the window pane. I'm blessed. I have lived with the finest riches of color and sound from the hills. It's sad that there are people who will never see that beauty, or understand its friendship and protection.

I wear shoes now, but sometimes I have barefoot memories.

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