I often grab my camera and head out the door with a belief that something outside is calling me to capture its beauty. Beauty is not usually bashful, but sometimes plays hide-and-seek hoping I’ll have the determination to find it. I see things differently when I look through a camera. I don’t take pictures; I capture images.
A 14” snow in Kansas redefines the landscape, so I grabbed my gear and Sorel boots to look for the surprises I find through my lens. I was not disappointed. I stopped by an abandoned farms and traipsed around for the promise of visual intrigue.
Old tractors hide in the snow.
A melancholy old tire swing hung from an elm tree whispered memories of yesterdays’ children.
A buzz saw shivered in the cold.
The best surprise was when I walked around the corner of the barn and found a warm, 30-year-old memory buried in the snow; I found the old pickup of Sam Sommers.
I suddenly traveled back in time to warm harvest days of June when Sam would rumble that old truck by my house headed to the grain elevator. I still see the truck bed heaped with wheat, the front tires barely touching the ground, and a tiny little old man in overalls and leather glovers peering between the dashboard and the steering wheel.
Sam was one of my favorite little old men in a town full of some of the greatest little old men I’ve ever known. Sam was no bigger than a minute and, if you filled his pockets with wheat, maybe weighed 120 lbs. He always had a smile on his face and an invitation to take your to church. His voice was high pitched and weak, so I’d lean in to listen to him tell stories.
Sam was known for his frugality and it was once said that he and his brother, John, invented copper wire because they both found a penny at the same time and stretched it between them.
I miss the old men like Sam who once filled the café in my small town offering prolific social commentary on the latest topic ranging from the weather to Mrs. Eugene Crabtree’s hip replacement. They were Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. Whoever said that old women are the worst gossips should eavesdrop some morning at Grandma’s Kitchen, Anytown, USA. Old men are just as bad, if not worse, but they are usually much more funny.
I lament the passing of those little old men who hammered out sixty and seventy years of marriages, who had battle scars from foreign wars, and whose skin had turned to leather working in the Kansas sun.
What a pleasant gift to find one of their warm memories buried in the snow, yet fresh as the morning’s sunrise and as crisp as the winter air.
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