April 16, 2012

The complex simplicity of a hay field...

I've never been a complicated man. Complicated things confuse me, so I like to keep things as I think of myself...simple. Recently my cell phone decided its life was over and I was talking to a customer service rep with my carrier on which model I should get. He kept going on and on about how the touch screen on a certain model integrated with this and how I could easily access that and the GPS on this particular model could navigate me to within ten yards of my destination. Well, I called my carrier because I couldn't get that new-fangled touch screen to respond to of all things, my touch. So I couldn't use the GPS, I couldn't access this and that, but more importantly, I couldn't make a dad-burned phone call...I like simple. Pick it up, touch REAL numbers, someone answers.

As I drive to work each day, the first three or four miles of the drive takes me on the backroads near my home and the wonders of nature and simplicity surround me. And since my home is in Texas, those backroads hold an ample supply of trees, homes, spring time wild flowers and fields. One of the fields that I drive by each day is a simple, eight or nine acre hay field. The owner mows it twice a year to take advantage of the wonderful hay that it produces.

Well it's that time of year again and as I drove by this morning, I noticed the owner had cut, dried and baled this field. He baled it in the large, round bales that require a tractor to load. Unlike the bales that I spent many a Saturday afternoon in my teenage years hoisting onto the back of a trailer, for a quarter a bale, if I was lucky. He fared only about twenty-five or thirty bales, but the number of bales isn't what fascinated me with the display. You have to "see" beyond the dozens of shades of green and the mathematical perfection of the bales circular form and the aroma that shouts out the word spring in order to see the beauty and simplicity a hay field holds for me.

Before a field is mowed, it's an ocean of waving green and light brown that dances joyfully with its partner, the wind. And when it's mowed and the bales are silent giants standing alone, I think of how the simple hay bale fits in the circle of life. It starts out as a simple seed, a small grain, very tiny in stature, but that holds a future so grand, it's hard to grasp. It is put into the ground as a promise of something to come later, like an investment. Once it is grown and harvested, the simple seed that has became a stalk and now has become a part of a hay bale, helps to continue the circle of life.

From the bale it goes to some sort of animal. It could be a cow, a horse a goat or even a Llama. Yes, we have Llama's here in Texas, lots of them as a matter of fact. It now becomes the fuel to whatever beast takes its nutrition in. And that beast, if it is one that is consumed by the third level of life, humanity, it goes on to feed many, many persons in this world. So the simple grain, that grows into a stalk of hay, that feeds the animal, that feeds the person, is a very, very simple thing, but it's short-lived life is important beyond its simplicity. And I like that.

So how did this world, to steal a line from the Shawshank Redemption, one of my all-time favorite movies, "go and get itself in a big ole' hurry" and get so complex? The Good Lord has been gracious enough to let me live in my sixth decade now and to tell the truth, I wish this old world would start going backwards.

I miss the simpleness of a home-cooked meal that mama spent the better part of two hours preparing, with simple ingredients in a simple country kitchen, because she knew that we'd all appreciate it. I miss the laid back attitude of Small Town, USA, before the days of the internet, the cell phone and twenty four hour TV. I love the un-complex design of a small block Chevy before 1975, when the first gas crunches forced the auto makers to get more economical and to make their vehicles more complex and efficient.

I recall when you could name every television show that came on, on any night of the week and what channel it aired on. Of course, there were only three channels then and only four or five hours of program time before the evening news came on and "Big Chief" signed us off just after the gruff voice asked "It's ten p.m., do you know where your children are?"

These days if you have a problem with your vehicle, it's not possible that your uncle, your dad and a few other buddies can pull it under a shade tree and over a six pack of brews, figure out the problem and get the vehicle going for the low cost of, well, a six pack of brews. You go to an auto mechanic now and before he turns the first wrench, it's $65 or more.

I look back over my short life and marvel at how far we've gone in terms of simplicity versus complexity and it's amazing if you stop and think of it. I remember as a child seeing folks in my little hometown with lifeless limbs brought on by the devastating effects of Polio. And now that horrible disease is a thing of the past without hardly a case anywhere. That sort of complexity is amazing. I remember the old wind up gas pumps you used to pump gasoline from and that you paid after the attendant pumped your gas for you. Now the gas has gone up and customer service is gone forever. And guess what? Those new fangled, whiz bang pumps ain't simple anymore. You have a touch screen, probably the same one that's on my cell phone and you have to first "pay up" or you don't "fill up". And that's astounding.

A dear friend of mine told me the story today of how she had flown a kite this weekend. She got me thinking about how long it had been since I had flown a kite. How long? Well, honestly, it's been too long. Think about that for a second. How long has it been since you took your child, or a nephew or niece or just a small child out to a park or vacant field and entertained them with the simple act of flying a kite? I know, don't answer.

Some say I'm an old soul and I tend to agree. I remember thinking as a child that I couldn't wait to grow up. I was going to set the world on fire with my ideas. And now all of those ideas have given way to the simple joy of driving by a freshly mowed hay field. Complexity is necessary today, but simplicity will always hold the key to a better world.

The Impulsive Texan



"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...