August 24th...”DID YOU HAVE TO OBEY A CURFEW (time to come home) AS A YOUTH ON YOUR FARM?”
A Ring-necked Pheasant jumped into the golden evening sky with its chattering call as another day of life was coming to a close on our farm. Thankfully, there was no set time on the clock for curfew at our farm home in the lush south-lands of central Minnesota. For any who may be curious, the word “curfew” comes from the French language and means “to cover the fire”…….as if to make things dark to go to sleep. 😉
In the blissful innocence of childhood, farm life was all I knew and enjoyed. Thanks to a very strong Christian influence, within the farming culture all around us, we could, with complete safety, enjoy life and play, without supervision, far into those summer evenings and not have to worry about being attacked by evil thugs, wicked gangs or drive-by shootings. All this because the rural family unit was so vividly strong in those sweet times.
As I look back, I find that our farming culture, in those dear days of yesteryear, was absolutely ideal for the raising of a child. For instance, whenever any of our cousins, or neighboring families, came to visit, we little ones could engage in the classic childhood games of “Hide N Seek”, “Annie-I-Over” (the roof of the house with a ball) or just make up games as we explored the farm while passing the evening hours with joyful abandon.
Only our imaginations limited our joy-filled activities as Mr. Sun would wink his way goodnight over the horizon silhouettes of our corn and soybean fields. To our joy, there was an inaudible peacefulness of our farm life that, unlike the big cities, was not attacked by the molesting sounds of snarled, angry traffic replete with their livid horn honking. Also absent were incessant sirens, hideously loud stereo systems or other audible intrusions into what we knew as our tender, docile world.
Since there were only the evening sounds of crickets and nighttime breezes across the landscape, we could easily hear our mother’s call when it was time for supper, bath or bedtime. Although, I’m sure we tested her patience more than a few times when we were engaged in sleuthing the shadows in conquest of some imaginary bad guys during our latest little adventure.
If we were playing a bit farther outside of our farmyard (say, in the fields), then our father could “cut the air” with his shrill whistle that could be heard all the way to Planet Mars and back…….or so it seemed to me, at least. That piercing, shrill whistle meant that it was time to leave the gentle, kind darkness of the farm fields and get our legs moving towards our farm house and waiting family.
Whether it was catching fireflies in Mason jars, or just counting stars in the black velvet Minnesota sky while laying on cool, green grass…….the word, CURFEW, seemed to take on a happy meaning for me (even though we had no curfew, other than bedtime). That happy acronym to me was:
C…hildren U…nderstood (that) R…ural F…amily E…qualed W…onderment!!!
Such are the musings of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.