SNIFF A DITCH
I decided to get some exercise the other day. Pulled on my pink hoodie, threw on a pair of ugly tennis shoes and opened my heart and nostrils along with the front door to embrace the sweet spirit of spring.
About three houses down, I threw out my hip. But because I’d fortified myself with a couple sleeves of Thin Mint cookies, I shook it off and kept on keeping on. Why? Because a spring day such as this called for some ditch sniffing. Which is how I discovered a terrible tragedy, you guys: The ditches are gone.
Seriously. They’re gone. The ditches are gone. The six foot wide, six foot deep, open mouthed, running water, spider infested attractive nuisances that used to line every country road (and have been mentioned before in my column) are...gone.
Now I don’t know why for sure, but I suspect they killed one child too many, as every one of us, from the beginning of time, were known to be found in them often, either walking or floating or wading through the brown sludge to pick up and carry home a diseased carcass of some sort or another.
So okay, yes. Maybe in covering them up a few lives were saved, which some people might call progress, and that’s fine, I guess—if you like that sort of thing. But as I walked along, missing the ditches, I couldn’t help but recall when sidewalks were scarce, cheesies were food, and every stretch of road was a pathway for cattails and irrigation.
Which leads me to ask: How in the WORLD does every child born have an innate knowledge that cheesie weeds are edible? I’m pretty sure I heard the siren song of the cheesie in my crib. Then when I was old enough to grab my own Cool Whip bowl, I went foraging. To find a sizable clump meant a feast would be held, and I screamed and yelled for my friends to, “COME HELP PEEL THE CHEESIES!” Somebody could always be counted on to supply the Otter Pops, and after the meal, we all returned home, coughing on Otter Pop syrup, with a belly full of weed buttons.
Back then, very few of us qualified to ride the bus, so we spent eternity walking to and from school. One thing that made it bearable was coming upon somebody’s flooded yard. We didn't know this phenomenon was connected to farming or water turns. We just knew we got to stop, splash and jump until the grass turned to mud. I would imagine there were many lawns completely destroyed by the pitter patter STOMP of little feet.
We loved collecting pods, especially those most noxious, and pulling them apart to let the innards explode in a giant puff of seedlings. We had no idea until we were grown ups that we were responsible for the fields of dandelions that colored the landscape and tormented our parents.
Well, anyway, as I said, the ditches are gone. Which means a fair amount of my childhood was buried in the dirt with the pipes. But as long as there are cheesies to peel and dandelions to curse, we can rest our blessed hearts, knowing that the things that matter are still okay.
Now excuse me while I get my Cool Whip bowl, cuz I see a really nice patch over there...