Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seven Sundays on the Liar's Bench

Well the old wives tale in this neck of the woods is that if it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain for seven Sundays after...I had never heard that phrase until I made the transition from 'town' girl to country girl, but every year somehow it has proven to be true....This year it snowed on Easter Sunday. The big debate on the local Liar's Bench is how or if this will change this usually predictable prediction. Some of the old timers swear that the snow will keep the rain away, while others say it will bring the rain......perhaps I should explain the Liar's Bench.

There is a little country store/grain mill (in fact it is the only thing in our 'town') here that all the farmers mingle at everyday after breakfast and chores to 'loaf'. They share the local gossip, usually exaggerated extensively by the end of the session because John's wife heard that it was actually three million dollars that was stolen during the bank robbery of 1982 over in the next town, not 1 million, which was what Jim's wife had originally heard...and of course the bigger story sounds better, despite the fact that the sum of money was really only about $20,000. Often the local gossip is about the health of the elders in the community, or the state of marriages in the community, or the financial dealings (or presumed financial dealings) of locals. There was recently a land auction that had tongues wagging over the scandal of a wealthy farmer bidding a seemingly outrageous amount of money for farmable acreage. Land that had been share cropped for many years by another local farmer, who could not afford to bid the kind of price the wealthy farmer bid....these stories and more are swapped on something called the Liar's Bench. The store still has on old dirty wooden plank floor, and sitting along one wall is a very long old church pew, dingy and dirty from years of dusty farmers sitting and 'chewing the fat' each morning, this is the famous Liar's Bench. There is a soda machine beside it for refreshment, and candy to be purchased for children and grandchildren who might be along for the 'loafing' session. It is a special treat for all the local children to ride up to the store with Grandpa or Daddy and get a 'pop' and some candy.

This tiny little shop seems to be suspended in time. Something right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Any time I stop in, for the occasional piece of hardware, garden supply or in search of Grandpa, I am immediately taken back to the 1950's. The men are still in dirty overalls, there are smells of hogs, cow manure, grain, dust, chewing tobacco and aftershave lingering in the air. And the atmosphere is always welcoming. Someone will always inquire about your family, the health of your elderly family members and speak to your children as if they were their own, offering to buy them candy and asking them if they are ready for farming season to start.

If you were to call your neighbor, mid-morning chances are you will reach the wife, who like me is at home with children or at home tending to grandchildren....if you are looking for her husband she is likely to chuckle, because you should know where her husband the Mill. Unless of course it's farming season. Then the Liar's Bench is empty...lonely and cold waiting for bodies to fill it up once again after planting season or after the harvest. Although the occasional old timer may stop in and sit a spell...reminiscing about the days he was behind the tractor. Perhaps with a tear in his eye, feeling useless as he watches the next generation drive by on their way to the field.

Today the sun is shining, and it's still any body's guess as to weather there will be any rain today....only 5 more Sunday's to go. It rained last Sunday.....

UPDATE: It didn't rain!