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A Promise
by Newt Harlan

It was something of a surprise, but we finally got an anticipated promise this week. During the past 15 or 20 days several little cool fronts have been sneaking through here. Other than bringing some much needed rain, for the most part they went pretty much unnoticed. That was before one came through this past weekend which, with some help from a Pacific storm, brought with it a hint of cool and some less humid air. Some of you may not have noticed it, but on the first three days of this week we had a promise show up.

These fronts come through about this time every year and cool things off briefly. This last one did a pretty fair job, the high temperatures haven't made it to 90 yet and the lows have been in the mid 60s on the feed store thermometer for the past several days. This is God's way of giving us a little relief from summer's heat and humidity and promising us that if we'll just hang in for a few more weeks, He'll send along fall and winter to make us really forget about summer.

I've come to look forward to God's promises coming around every year. I love the touch of cool in the air early in the morning, followed by not quite so high daytime temperatures and lower humidity, which illustrates that hackneyed saying, "It ain't the heat, it's the humidity."

Yesterday morning when I stuck my head out the door, the feed store thermometer on the back porch said 65. That's not too bad for early September. Do you reckon it might be a portent of a cooler than usual winter? We're about due one. Other than an occasional snap of freezing weather every couple of years, we haven't seen anything around here to actually call a genuine winter in about 10 years. There's definitely been nothing to compare to the winters of my childhood, when we'd often get the first blue norther blowing in along about the end of October and have fronts bringing freezing weather almost every week until around the middle of March.

Younger folks and newcomers accuse me of making up stories of sleet, snow and ice storms that came around here on a fairly regular basis during the decades of the 40s, 50s and 60s. We actually had what you could call genuine, bona fide winters back then, cold and wet. Freezing temperatures were almost the norm, rather than the exception. And rain, let me tell you it rained. Everything without a roof, hard surfacing or a covering of grass turned to mud in October and didn't dry out until about May. Rubber boots and warm gloves were definitely part of everybody's wardrobe who worked outdoors back during those cold winters.

The closest we could back a truck up to the barn during those wet spells without getting it stuck was about 50 yards. As a result, I had the pleasure of pissanting many pickup loads of 100 lb. sacks of cow and horse feed 50 yards through mud that was often near knee deep. I never did have to walk 10 miles through the snow to school as folks often claim, but if it was harder than carrying those dang 100 lb sacks of feed 50 yards through the mud, it was a damned tough go.

This year fall can't come too soon for me. It's been a long, hot summer and fall has always been my favorite time of the year. I can almost smell the leaves burning on backyard fires or close my eyes and imagine making that first pot of chili or gumbo for the season. In my mind I can sniff all those delicious odors which seem to smell that much better in the crisp, cool air of fall. Sitting around a pit, cooking up a bunch of barbecue while drinking beer with friends, reminiscing and telling each other honest lies in the kind of weather that was just meant for barbecuing -- it don't get much better than that. And don't forget fall fishing, deer season and football. You've almost got to have cool weather for these activities; they just weren't meant to be done in summer's heat. Come on, October!

Of course, this nice spell we've been enjoying will soon be replaced by several more weeks of temperatures in the upper 90s and 90% humidity, but it really doesn't matter now . . . we've got our promise.


Newt tells us about himself:

I was born, raised and educated in Texas. With the exception of a few brief sojourns and the 4 years during the Vietnam Era that I spent riding around on airplanes courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, I've spent the more than 65 years of my life within spittin' distance of the place where I grew up. I managed to cram a four-year college degree into nine years and by virtue of that remarkable feat, I am a former student of six different schools, which sure helps the odds of rooting for a winner in sporting events. The academic standards committee had a moment of weakness and I was the fortunate recipient of a degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

I'm Southern to the bone. The sound of "Dixie" being played gives me goose bumps and I stand and remove my hat. My yard dog, B.J., controls the squirrels, cats, meter readers and peddlers around my place. I've picked cotton by hand, plowed behind a mule, churned butter, shelled back-eyed peas, and for the first 12 years of my life, went without shoes from April until October. Several of my friends regularly hold conversations with mules, but as of yet I can't get the danged mules to answer me. I think grits are as much a part of breakfast as bacon, eggs and cathead biscuits. I think ain't is a perfectly good word and don't plan to quit using it just because some damnyankee dictionary writer arbitrarily thinks it ain't.

I've been married for 30-some odd years and have beaucoup kids and grandkids. I'm now retired after having spent the better part of the past 37 years traveling around Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi and Alabama, trying to sell steel products. My hobbies, in no particular order, include writing, grandkids, hunting, fishing and visiting the local watering hole to swap honest lies and research material for stories.

E-mail Newt at: Newt281@embarqmail.com

Want to read more of Newt's stories at USADEEPSOUTH? Click these links:
Ol' Red and the Armadillo
Telephones and memories
Tastes like chicken
Railroad Money
Basura Blanca News
Juicing Bovines
That's Entertainment ~ '50s style
Railroad Fireman
Curing Colds
Belly Waddin' Lunch


Read many more great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.



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