Pipi’s Pasture: Hot July Days
These recent hot temperatures have triggered memories of growing up on the ranch, especially July when haying season was underway. Work started early in the morning, and the day usually ended at dark.
Dad usually hired at least one man to help with haying, more often two, so the noon meal was a big deal — never sandwiches and chips.
Starting with breakfast, Mom cooked all morning long. Meat, which Mom considered to be the most important part of the meal, was usually put in the oven early in the morning.
Mom planned her time wisely so in spite of the time required to cook the meat, she managed to squeeze in time to bake dinner rolls and perhaps even a pie. Of course, there was the stove top cooking, too — all of this contributing to heat in the kitchen.
In those days we didn’t have any air conditioning in the house — not even a fan — so by noon when the men came in from the hayfield, our little house was pretty hot.
Sometimes about a half hour before dinner (that’s what we called the noon meal) we girls set the sprinkler just outside the back door for awhile. The cold water from the sprinkler helped cool down the kitchen.
After dinner, when the dishes were washed and everything was put away, my sisters and I retreated to the coolest place we could find until we had to gather up the milk cow and do chores.
One of my favorite places was under the big old silver maple tree in the front yard. We spread a blanket under the tree and played with our dolls.
If there were enough leftovers from dinner and Mom didn’t have to cook, she often joined us. Mom crocheted and told us stories about our family history.
The daytime heat was miserable, but trying to get to sleep at night was worse. We girls slept upstairs, which was stuffy anytime in the summer but worse at night because we couldn’t open the windows to benefit from the cool night air.
In fact, even though we left the windows open in the daytime, we had to close them by dusk. The windows weren’t screened, and the bats that began flying around at dark often flew into the upstairs.
I can still hear Mom yelling, “ Make sure the windows are shut. I can see a bat flying around!”
If we goofed up and a bat flew into the upstairs, it stayed — a long time. A portion of the house’s brick chimney ran through one of the upstairs bedrooms, and the bat hid in a little space at the top of the bricks.
At night he flew out into the bedrooms. It was bad enough to have to crawl under the covers on a hot night in order to avoid having a bat land on us but worse to have to cover up our heads — something that was all too common on a hot July night.
So now I’m grown up, it’s a hot July, and I’m grateful for air conditioning and screened windows.
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