Windbreaks Catch More Than Wind


Yesterday, Veteran’s Day, came in windy and cold in Kansas.  As I hurried toward the church door the wind caught me by the legs, scooting me along with my cape as a sail.  Although a bit bitter for a walk I couldn’t resist a few minutes out by the windrow to check on the birds and varmints that can always  be found there.

I have few memories of my childhood or stories that were told by a parent, but the story surrounding the planting of the windbreak trees is all mine.  The farm stands on a rise that just dares a gust to come along, and since many did, the only way to protect the barnyard and cattle was to plant a windrow.  My penny-pinching father went to the agriculture service office and bought some affordable cedar starts, I am sure no larger than a foot tall and in a hundred-bundle.  When they arrived on the bitter March winter day they had to be planted or die.  Since Dad had a job at the aircraft plant, it was left to Mom to dig a hundred holes, plant the trees in frozen ground, and water them in.

I am told I was a fussy baby and had a tendency to be croupy, so my mother nursed me for a few months after birth, thinking it would make me a little healthier.  The day the trees arrived, I was a few months old and am told I had a bad cold and cried constantly.  Any other woman would probably have told the trees to forget it, but Mom was a “get-er-done” gal so she spent the day digging two holes and then returning to the house to check on me.  Dig another two, check on me.  Every dozen holes she would pause to nurse me and try to get me to sleep, which was summarily unsuccessful.  Laughter bubbles up in me every time I think of the situation, although it had to have been a miserable memory for my mother.

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