Air Conditioning 101
Increasingly , if I am any indicator,
Us " Oldsters " look backward anymore
Rather than forward ,to find out that
The past mollifies stress and pain
Through the passage of time and
Puts a pleasurable gilding on memories :
Real or imagined ,artful or drab,
Even long forgotten wry old wishes .
Up on the three storied roof of Barker's barn ,
Formerly known to us as the Wade Farm ,
I cut my teeth high up to a twelve year old's fright .
No prior experience , did Mom and Dad know ?
A bucket of barn red paint , a four inch wide brush ,
A simple cloths line safety tie off rope , and
The the rickety , rung missing , extension ladder .
You've seen raised seam barn roofs many times ,
But have you felt the sun's unrelenting
Reflection of vapored , scorching , oppressive
Heat that burns through leather gloves?
Tin roofs have a cruel way of accepting paint .
How much paint was on me , on the roof ?
The Barkers were Mennonites , in dress at least .
They gave me my first lesson in air conditioning .
I came to work there while staying with my
Father's parents ,Wee Annie and Gran'Pa Downie ,
As they were fondly known by Houck Road neighbors .
As usual , mine was a working vacation , no complaints .
Seems I didn't wear a hat since I didn't know I'd be on a roof .
My employer ,Barker, gave me an old used straw hat
To keep the harsh sun rays directly off my head .
After lunch when we all realized how hot it really was
Mr.Barker took me to the garden patch . There he
Pulled off a large , thick outer leaf of a cabbage plant
And handed it to me . " Here, stuff this leaf inside your
Hat and let me know if this doesn't help with the heat ."
Air Conditioning 101 was a huge success . Try it .
Ronald C . Downie
Looking back allows us to look forward with hope for an improved World.