Barn swallows caught mosquitoes in the air between the barn and hog shed. Blue on top and cinnamon on the bottom, their notched long tails followed their cries of “get out.” If we played or walked around their mud nests, they dive-bombed us. My brothers were allowed to target sparrows and crows with their BB guns all they wanted, but swallows ate mosquitoes so they were off limits.
In the house, I remember circulating fans in the doorway to the living room area. The room cooled only in front of the fan, so a body blocked air from flowing into the room. (But it felt good.) We sweat so much that on summer nights, my clothes rolled off rather than slipped off.
If it was too hot and breathless around the buildings, I escaped to my pasture hill for refreshing breezes. I took any chance to fantasize that I was the star of my own movie. Sometimes, I walked on the road, where wild roses in the ditches drew me to their perfumed white, blush, and bright pink petals.
Once a year, when the heat turned unbearable and even breathing made us sweat, Dad took us swimming. I’m not talking about the pool in town. We loaded up and went to the Elkhorn River near the Oakdale Bridge seven miles straight south of the farm. Like fishing, I’ve never been much of a swimmer. But the outing with family was irreplaceable.
I much preferred to rest on the river bank, watching cloud formations, where nature surrounded me.
Abundant butterflies, see-through white, yellow, lavender, the orange and black of painted ladies and monarchs, and variations of dusty browns and grays. I could get why they landed on flowers, but mud puddles and cow patties?
Did you have a favorite swimming hole?