We kids held watermelon eating contests, both in how much we could eat, and how far we spit the seeds. Watermelon from Grandpa’s farm, or any sandy field at Orchard, always seemed to taste better than ours grown northeast of Neligh. We never heard of cantaloupe. We ate “mushmelon.” Food not grown on the farm represented fun rather than work, like catching fish.
I loved to go fishing with Dad, though I still don’t care for the actual sport of fishing, or handling worms. However, I love to be outdoors near the water. Every spring as an adult, the first trill of a red-winged blackbird takes me back to family fishing. I liked the whole atmosphere, except mosquitoes. The breeze, fuzzy cattails, fish plopping, turtles sinking, frogs croaking.
Hunting bullfrogs was altogether another sport, done only at night. Equipment included flashlights, gunnysacks, a forked spear, and knives. We discovered big bullfrogs eat snakes, as in one of us cut into a whole snake in a frog’s gut. Don’t ask me why someone dissected more than the legs. Those hoppers looked mighty funny jumping up in the pan. The leg muscles stretched, then stopped. All fried up, the eatin’ was good. Tasty as chicken.
After dark, the house was breathlessly hot, so we stayed outside until we wore out, or Mom and Dad needed to go to bed. Lots of creatures caught our interest. Toads hopped to the cow tank to cool off in the mud. (No one got warts from playing with the fat brown varmints, but they peed on us.) The yard light drew moths and millers that zapped as they fried against the bright voltage like grease popping in the skillet. June bugs, crickets, and locusts sawed and snapped to remind us living creatures rejoiced in the coolness of night.
The innocence of those hot summer nights on the farm still makes me smile, until I remember turning over the pillow for the somewhat fresher underside of the case.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my summer tales of a bygone time on the farm.