By PETTUS READ
The summer heat was making its presence known on the top of my hair-thinning head as I moved across the black-top of my favorite restaurant the other day as my “smart” phone began to ring its peculiar ring tone of a chime that only dogs and myself enjoy.
The call was coming from Aunt Sadie telling me to come by and have some fresh cheese pie she had just cooked up. Cheese pie is an old dish our family has enjoyed for years and Aunt Sadie’s is guaranteed to stop up every artery you have. The gooey concoction is baked in Lodge cast iron several years old and made from fresh creamery cheese along with handmade buttermilk dough. Just the thought of a bite made me tell her I would be by in a bit, as soon as I caught up on some work.
Instead of going to an office to finish up what I needed to do, I got out my iPad to check some emails and the latest news. Communicating has moved to our little square devices these days and I often wonder if we are really communicating or performing tasks. I’m now friends with folks I’ve never met, people have my identity who may be wanting to give it back, phones that are “smart” often show me how dumb I am and my newspaper now comes from the airwaves, cutting out my morning walk to the mailbox, doing away with my opportunity to share communicating the day’s beginning with God. I’ve often wondered do we need to be as connected as we are? A visit out with Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie gave me my answer.
I was looking forward to a summer afternoon’s visit with the couple and sure enough, there they sat breaking beans into a green crock bowl. Across their laps were spread newspaper pages from today’s edition of the local paper. I’m sure they didn’t get their news today from an iPad and there probably wasn’t much ink left on the pages after Uncle Sid got through reading it either.
Each of their laps held heaping mounds of freshly picked green beans from their own garden, and with expert regimentation, they were snapping the bean pods into inch pieces with the skill of a surgeon. Breaking beans on the back porch has always been a part of summer at their house. While picking up a handful of green beans and sitting down in a straight-back wooden chair near the couple, I started breaking beans alongside them. With the snap of each bean I could almost feel the stress and tension of the busy day from back in the city leak from my finger tips like water from a garden hose hooked to a bad faucet. And to think, many people pay fortunes to get professional help to relieve stress like this when all they need is a back porch and a newspaper page full of beans.
“Uncle Sid hasn’t got lost anymore in ‘Wall Marks’ has he?” I asked with a grin on my face.
“Boy, (and yes, I’m turning 65, but he still calls me Boy) there are some places that a man can get confused in and that big old store is one place that this farmer finds a little bit confusing,” he said.
“Now what were you looking for when you got lost?” I asked. I had heard the story several times but couldn’t get enough hearing my favorite farmer tell it.
“I went looking for tractor grease and ended up in their camera and compact disc section,” he said. “I asked some kid with his ball cap on sideways where I might find tractor grease and he said he never heard of such a thing. He then pulled out his telephone from his pants, that had slipped down a little too much as far as I’m concerned, and started doing that “text’n” stuff with his thumbs. After just a few seconds he told me that grease was on aisle 12 and maybe I should call my sitter to take me over there. I told him maybe he needed to turn his hat around straight because it didn’t look like to me his head was on crooked and while he was at it, pull his britches up as well. I thanked him for his help and told him I didn’t have a sitter but I still respect my elders,” he went on to say.
Uncle Sid then picked up some more beans and got back to work, but stopped long enough to say, “There is just too much communication these days. Kids don’t talk, but instead do this “text’n.” They spend all their time “gogglin” for answers. If they don’t learn how to talk to folks, in a few generations, everybody will be mute and have overgrown thumbs.”
I knew I wasn’t the only one who thought that! Maybe it is time to put away the “smart” phone and iPad. It would sure beat “gogglin.”
- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org