Oooooo…hard, hard times.
Mmm, mmm, mmm these hard, hard times.
It’s the chorus to an old Chris Ledoux song. Standing alone, the words aren’t very profound. But the images…
Old man stand by the loading chute…won’t make the payment on the land, it’ll pay the interest on the note…
He’s picking up cans in the roadside dust. She’s at the Feed Rack Cafe…
No one sees the banker’s tears but the one that shares his name.
That chorus brings other images to my mind, almost tears as I look out the window at the dust blowing by.
Homesteaders a century ago, the wind howling through the cracks, the dust blowing away their hope of a crop.
A cemetery full of baby graves, because one year there was a sparse harvest, a hard winter and a lot of sickness.
Men walking away from home to look for a job elsewhere, mothers watching children play without shoes and stretching the last pot of beans.
The 50s, when the young man who watched his father plant 50 sacks of beans and harvest 15 walked away.
The families packing what they could in their cars, driving away - leaving everything else in the house where they could no longer live.
Those old houses falling, ghosts of life crying out in the dust and the wind.
Oooo, these hard, hard times.
We don’t know hard times, my generation. The news reports on a family needing stimulus money because they couldn’t deposit in the baby’s college funds. A 20+ with a medical degree has to work at Starbucks and live with roommates because he can’t find a job in his line of work in his town. Facebook hosts the cries of an “essential worker” upset because she isn’t getting hazard pay.
It’s a good thing to remember the real hard times, the hard times of the people we know and love in the places we know and love.
And when I see the truck drive away full of cattle, including Smudge and Smartie and their mamas, when I see the few remaining cows dotted across the brown pasture, nibbling on the last bit of hay…When the wind wears on my mind and my heart hurts for the ranchers in the dilemma of drought…. Through the dust, I will lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence something my help. My help cometh from the Lord….
And here in my snug house, with plenty to eat and fully clothed children, here with my family near and grand possibilities for the future, I will remember that I don’t know hard, hard times.