July has come to Kansas and with it, the hot winds that blow across the plains. Its arid breath dries the ground faster than I can wet it with the garden hose, and flowers droop their tired heads in heated exhaustion.
I look around our yard at all the possibilities: potential flower beds, an arbor with a swing, trees to shade the lawn. And more rocks.
Rock hunting was not just "adverb+verb" in our house; it was an adventure. Back in the 1960's there weren't elaborate greenhouses and landscaping shops where one could purchase rocks for the garden. Even if there had been, we would never have been able to afford them. Lucky us. It set the stage for a family outing that remains with me still.
On a warm summer evening or a Saturday afternoon, we would load up in the old Ford pick-up, with most of us riding in the back (a common practice of country folk in the 1960's) and drive across the countryside looking for rocks. We'd drive the dirt roads surrounding our farm, turning into pastures and leaving the truck to 'hoof it' up grassy slopes, scanning the tall Buffalo grass for unique rocks to line Mother's garden.
We would pull on brown, cotton work gloves, look for just the right rock and haul our special finds to the back of the truck. There was always delight in the discovery and pleasure in sharing Mother's joy of these new additions to her flower beds.
After several stops we would jump back in the pick-up. The windows would be rolled down in front and some of us would sit on the tailgate in the back, my dad driving so slowly that we could touch the ground with our feet as we moved over terraces at the edge of our fields. I still remember the feel of the soft, fine dirt underneath my bare feet and the smell of wind and earth.
It was a time in rural America when people trusted one another and thought nothing of letting neighbors onto their land. There was mutual, unspoken respect and trust, and a give and take between us; an open-door policy that invited and fostered close relationships and friendships across the fence row. It was a simpler time when sharing a summer afternoon with your family consisted of looking for rocks and being as happy with your find as if it were a gift. And as I grow older I see that it was. For in those times of sharing we grew closer in family.......and richer in love.
That indeed was a gift....and it was enough.