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Don Hill: A little whiff of cool air

Jun 21, 2023

Don Hill

This is a story of an old man sitting alone out on a hot summer evening sipping a glass of blackberry wine.

Some folks say it’s too hot to be outside. They’re the ones sitting in their artificial cool air’ed living rooms. The old man smiles. Sad, he muses to himself, “They don’t remember the old days when everybody sat out on hot summer evenings.”

It was a time when the house was sweltering hot from being exposed to the daylong sun. Opening windows helped some, but there wasn’t any cool air to come in. The electric fan could help, but it used electricity, which costs money, and it only blew hot air.

So folks would just sit outside on summer evenings where the other folks were. Of course, you had to set some old rags afire in a bucket to shoo away the ‘skeeters.

One would go to the icebox and chip off some shards of ice and then pour yourself a big glass of lemonade.

“Lemonade, made in the shade, stirred with a rusty spade,” Granny used to say. Grandpa would fix himself something a little stronger. Maybe some blackberry wine.

Women folks are not ones to waste away time. There were always beans to snap and peas to hull while you’re sittin’ around. Cherries to pit and strawberries to stem kept the hands busy.

“Busy hands are happy hands,” Granny used to say.

Now Aunt Martha is always fanning herself with a hand fan from the funeral home. Of course, they have their advertisement on the back: “Where will you go when you die? Miller’s Funeral Home, of course.”

About then Uncle Al would come up with a bucket of blackberries. Looks like they’re squished down a bit. Uncle Al says, “I only had one bucket and I weren’t gonna leave them berries in the woods.” Pa says, “About enough to start another batch of blackberry wine.”

“Well, land sakes alive, I reckon that calls fer some homemade ice cream,” says Aunt Martha. Pa don’t waste no time, “Ma, you make the fixin’s and I’ll get the cranker.’ Nothin’ like homemade ice cream on a hot summer evening.”

Youngin’s don’t pay no ‘tennsioin to hot weather. They justa scampering around playing tag or catchin’ lightenbugs in a jar with a punched hole lid.

“Mamma, I made me a lantern,” says little Joey. “Well, sakes alive if’n you didn’t son,” says Ma. And Granny akiddin, “Looks like the same bugs I used to catch when I was a youngin’.”

“Now, Pa you go to the smokehouse and fetch a ham off the hook, so I’ll have it for slicing up for breakfast,” says Ma. My, my, smoked ham and pan-scrambled eggs fresh out of the nest was worth getting up fer. Sittin’ around the kitchen table with family and a hot cup of coffee fresh out of the dented percolator, whee, weren’t them the good old days.

A little whiff of cool air tousled the old man’s hair as he laid back and closed his eyes.

Folks seemed to come out of their cool houses all around the neighborhood and gathered around. All would agree, it seemed like there was a smile on his face. One said, “The old man didn’t finish his glass of blackberry wine.”

Postscript: Granny used to say, “When you feel a little whiff of cool air on a hot summer evening, it’s a sign of an angel coming in for a landing.”

Don Hill is a resident of Seymour and a longtime volunteer for Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. Send comments to [email protected].