Wheat harvest, can kickin', and revival meetin's

“Knee high by Fourth of July.” That’s the rule of thumb in these parts, and sure enough.  Every day when I go out to run, the corn seems to have shot up another inch or two. 
A less common sight here is a wheat field.  Every time I pass one and see those golden stalks waving in the breeze, I am instantly transported back to the summers of my childhood. 
Growing up on the Kansas plains, we had little technology for entertainment.  Instead, we had 19 cousins and Grandpa’s wheat farm.  Thus, summers consisted of the annual wheat harvest with combine rides, chewing grain ‘til it turned to gum, drinking cold Pepsi from glass bottles, and playing the family favorite, Kick the Can.
With lots of outbuildings, lanes, and trees, there were plenty of places to hide on the farm.  As the seeker hid his eyes, counting, the rest of us would scatter like mice. 
Believe me, nothing sends a shiver down your spine like hearing the sound of feet coming toward you in the night.  Every nerve tingles.  The darkness is full of danger, and your imagination comes alive with colorful images of what may be hiding behind you in the wash house.  I hate to admit it, but I’m no Joan of Arc when the lights go out. 
Suddenly, shouts would ring out, followed by the sounds of panicked flight as the chaser and the chasee raced for the tin can.  If the chasee arrived first, a mighty metallic “whang” could be heard as he or she kicked the can for all they were worth before tearing off to hide once more. 
Of course, there was occasional dissension in the ranks when injustice was discovered.  An informal trial was usually convened, which generally involved only the slightest hint of law and absolutely no semblance of order.  Often, it shook out to be boys against girls with whoever argued the loudest coming out on top. 
For instance, when Cousin Don began employing his retired K9 dog, Adam, to sniff us out, there was full-blown mutiny.  The court session that followed made the Nuremberg trials look positively tame.  (If you think it takes a long time to design and build gallows, you’ve not seen a batch of indignant little Yoder cousins who’ve just been cheated.  We’re pretty darn fast.) 
Once in awhile, though, our play took a more – um, spiritual turn, and we’d play church.  For whatever reason, the “evangelist” who’d “bring the Word” to us was one of the older boy cousins, a real stinker with an occasional streak of mean.  His repertoire included starting water fights, calling us names, shouting insults, hurting our feelings, and making us cry.  Which certainly gives new meaning to the phrase “bully pulpit.” 
Anyway, in spite of his own checkered past, when he’d give the “invitation” at the end of his “message,” we, the congregants, would dutifully respond by lifting our hands.  “Yes, I see your hand,” he would solemnly intone before leading us in a prayer of repentance. 
And that’s how we spent our summers – no video games, cell phones, or movies; just cousins, fresh air, room to run, and a large extended family who, though imperfect, gave us roots and a legacy that money cannot buy.  Perhaps that, after all, is the best way to grow up.

Rhonda and her husband are raising four sons with their own passel of cousins.  She telecommutes from the reservation (i.e., her home) while riding shotgun on the hungry horde.  Additionally, she is a weekly columnist and professional blogger who finds hilarity anywhere, including, but not limited to the toothpaste aisle, the laundry room, a church pew, and the Winter Olympics.  She chronicles the tribe's latest shenanigans on her blog, The Natives are Getting Restless. 


  1. We played kick the can in the city, too, but not revival meeting. I probably would have baptized my cats or taken an offering!

  2. I'd say that's a bully pulpit, oh my! Never had such fun when we were kids, but we did use our front porch as a stage and put on plays. My mother took pictures to photo document and/or blackmail us...

    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Karen :)

  3. Thanks for the smiles and giggles!

  4. That's what you get when you come from a large family. Years later, when we were all grown up and were together again one Christmas, we played that game again for old times' sake, this time with a new generation. Yup, sure enough. Cousin Don still cheats, and the next-generation cousins ate it all up with a spoon! So fun.

  5. Meant to sign my name - that was Rhonda. :) Blogger is glitching something fierce.

  6. Back in my day (i.e. too many years to mention), we would play Hide and GO Seek until it got so dark we couldn't see. We also played a related game,called Tappy on the Ice Box. I wouldn't let our son outside for very long after our evening meal. There weren't a lot of kids around for him to play with. And the societal climate seemed to worsen.

    I miss the nights when we would be outside. Things seemed simpler back then.


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