Just viewing our neighbor’s beautiful field of corn along our driveway and our son-in-law’s soybean field on the corner has been a constant summer pleasure. Both crops are lusciously gorgeous, and so are the crops up at Wayside on the Pittsburg Road when Gerald occasionally drives us by there. (Yeah, I know that all the great crops means the price will go down, but we don’t want to think about that right now.)
Gerald rebuilt our dock down at the lake, and a favorite summer memory is when he let me take all the time I needed to crawl from the dock into the boat for a ride around the lake. At that time the other side of our little island was abloom with white Queen Anne’s lace and yellow black-eyed Susans growing in a background of tall brown grass. The memory of riding through the channel while enjoying this natural artistic mural will likely linger through winter.
Another summer pleasure has been a visit from Jake. With the Glasco and Archibald families down in Athens, Georgia, and Orlando, Florida, being in a state of transition this summer, Gerry had a buddy bring a couple of dogs up for the rest of the summer. Jake was delivered to our house, and once again I have enjoyed being able to look out the window and see that little black and white creature with his tail curled above his back exploring the countryside.
It has been a few years since our main summer social life was attending ball games at local parks watching granddaughters play softball. But this summer with Gerry coaching USSSA Pride, Gerald and I have watched softball games not just during the college season but all summer. Often we are eating light suppers in his office—sometimes watching streaming video of the game and sometimes with Game Tracker. And we really enjoyed the few televised games that let us watch on the bigger TV in the family room. So far the Pride is ahead in their league.
Of course, the best summer pleasure has been visits from children, grandchildren, and far-off relatives. Our first visitors were our nephew, wife, and son—John and Rhonda Gamble and Tim from Rock Springs, Wyoming. They were here staying in Marion and exploring our area while visiting family. Like our great grandsons, Tim liked riding the tractor with Gerald, and we were very impressed at Tim’s patience and politeness with mostly only adults around. A Glasco gathering at Giant City lodge in their honor was special because we finally met some other new additions to our family.
Since work, camps, and school schedules did not allow our grandchildren to work in our village Vacation Bible School this summer, Elijah and Cecelie came down before his Chicago internship so that five of the six youngest grandkids were able to hang out a couple of days. As usual Geri Ann was the one not here; she moved to Georgia before these kids changed from students to helpers in VBS, but her older sisters and Leslie helped in VBS before this younger crew. I missed hearing them plan VBS skits this year, but I always love seeing them together.
Elijah’s internship was through Illinois State and its purpose was to enlist students to later teach in the Chicago schools. After the internship ended, he came down to see us again, and I so enjoyed hearing him talk about the experience and the excitement of teaching. He lived with a host family and worked in Little Village and spent mornings teaching catch-up math to kids about to enter high school, Afternoons were spent working in a community center there, and evening classes kept them busy until 8 p.m. He had not been told he would be teaching math, so he said he spent late evening time on the computer getting ready for the next day’s class. Even though he is not a math major, he was a good math student whose father taught math, so I am sure he did fine. (I must confess that the one time I had to sub in an 8th grade math class, I was lost. Students and taxpayers were cheated that day.) Of course, once Lige arrived at the farm, Sam, Trent, and Brianna were over visiting too. (Cecelie couldn’t come this time as she was at speech camp.)
A couple of days after Lige arrived, our daughter-in-law Vickie, Geri Ann, and her older sister Tara and three boys—Aidan, Maddux, and Payton—arrived from Georgia around midnight. And shortly before they arrived, Brianna came over to spend the night for this infrequent chance to see Geri Ann. All that driving is hard on little boys, so Tara had it figured out that the little guys could play hard on the farm for a day before the four of them continued their travel to Chicago to watch USSSA Pride play and visit with her dad and then on to her mother-in-law’s home where her husband would be joining them when he did one of his check-ins with his company headquarters nearby.
The two Georgia families have traveled back and forth to Orlando this summer to be with Gerry and have seen a lot of Disney World, but last week they were checking in here for visits with family since they will be moving to Texas next week. After the Pride season is over, Gerry will be joining them and their middle daughter Erin at College Station as he starts his new position as associate head softball coach for A&M. Erin will be teaching and coaching at a different school this year much closer to College Station, and she is excited that her parents and Tara’s family are going to be there with her.
Tara and Bryan already have their house rented and the boys enrolled in school thanks to Erin’s help. (Gerry and Vickie have a realtor finding them a place in this booming region.) Tara will be working with the establishment of a sports complex that is being built there, and her husband Bryan will continue working for his Chicago-area firm flying in and out when need be, but otherwise keeping office hours in their home.
Geri Ann is transferring to the University of Oregon, and will be playing softball with the Ducks this year. So this visit at home with her families and with friends from her years growing up in Johnston City was very important to her and all of us. We already don’t see enough of her, and now we know we will see even less of her in the near future. Oregon is known for an outstanding special education school, so that played into Geri Ann’s choice. Elijah was excited to get to talk shop about special ed with Geri Ann.
We did not know it, but Vickie’s mother (G’ma Shirley) broke an ankle the same day I went into the hospital, so Vickie spent most of her time at her mother’s house, but she did get to fish a couple of times down at the lake—once even with her brother and nephew. Mary Ellen joined that boat ride, and some of us feasted afterward with the barbecued pork sandwiches that Mary Ellen brought over.
Even though grandkids were getting together and coming and going with their planned activities, I was thinking they were not as involved with hi-jinks as usual and they too were getting old! (Who knows what hi-jinks happened that I did not know about? And maybe that is for the best.) Lige had taken me in to help Katherine one evening, and Geri Ann and Brianna showed up there to visit with Sam. (He has been super busy all summer with various camps and projects including all-day marching band last week and this. They are getting ready for the fall football season).
Lige took me home, and I left the front door unlocked when I went to bed because he said the girls were going to rent a movie and be out soon. The next morning, I woke up to laughter on the deck outside the bedroom. Lige, Geri Ann, and Brianna were sitting there leaning against the wall looking out over the lake awaiting the sunrise. They had pulled an all-nighter while watching old tapes of family gatherings when they were little. Before I rolled over and went back to sleep until the middle of the morning, I could not help but smile that they were still quite young and going strong.
The three great grandsons’ visiting is always especially fun for Gerald and them. He will have the lime pile ready for them to dig it, and he’s prepared to give rides. We have had some tractor trouble this summer and a slow repairman that did not come when he was supposed to. So there were no tractor rides on the stop here on the way up to Chicago. I do not think the boys minded because there were other things to ride on, and Aidan has been declared responsible enough to drive the all-terrain vehicle. Fortunately on their way back through, the tractor was ready, and Gerald was able to satisfy that tradition. They were even able to ride along in the cab’s buddy seat as he knocked down a few little trees on the edge of the woods. Summer time on the farm is a good place to be.