Thursday, April 18, 2013

Now, that's entertainment

I admit, I'm easily entertained. I come by it naturally, I think, like most small-town boys who didn't grow up in the midst of bright lights and big-city delights.  It's a attribute that has served me well over the years, since I'm both cheap and lazy. So I'm lucky that I'm often interested in the little things that just naturally occur if you pay attention and you're not too demanding.
I grew up being absolutely delighted by most simple stuff, like Saturday nights in my Galva hometown. Imagine those thrilling days of yesteryear, when the downtown streets were lined with thriving retail businesses. Saturday was the big day, the day when farm families came to town to do their shopping. Some town folks would park their cars around the square in the late afternoon, walk home, then come back after supper knowing they had a prime spot from which they could sit and visit and watch that busy little world go by.  Things were open late on Saturday, and stores and restaurants and the movie theatre were all packed. There were three drive-in restaurants in those days, and they were busy, too, along with the downtown parks and the baseball field on the east end of town.
And while those days and nights and places are mostly gone now, those of us who grew up that way still appreciate the simple joys of those kind of things.
That's why I have, along with a host of others, dome things like pull up a lawn chair to watch a daring fellow trim a tall tree, leaned over a fence to commiserate with a gardening neighbor, and spent summer nights watching Little League baseball long after our own kids had graduated to other pursuits. We've ridden bicycles through the country just to see spring begin, and sat on late-night porches, sharing ice cream and the ordinary news of the day.
It's all so simple. And it's all entertaining.
Right now we are firmly in the grasp of our youngest grandsons, the ones who live in eastern North Carolina and provide us with a fine excuse to spend days and nights on the beach near these Atlantic shores.  We have tried our best to share our love for the simple things with them. It's easy enough, as they gladly experience the beach and birds and boats and all the other uncomplicated daily events this place has to offer. Moreover, they share the cool assurance that, as their grandparents, we're more than likely to want to make them happy, no matter what. They've learned that it's fun to dig in warm, wet sand, and  to count the number of pelicans in the scoop that's swooping above. They know that ghost crabs are almost impossible to catch, and that grandma is fearless when it comes to all the living things that scuttle and crawl and fly and swim and live and die along these sandy banks.  They know that it's interesting to watch when someone gets stuck in the soft sand that leads to our beach access, and that's it's a good thing to lend some help, though grandpa doesn't offer to push anymore, but only proves suggestions and stout planks of wood to bridge the deep holes that spinning tires make.
And while, as doting grandparents, we also find ourselves springing for more sophisticated pleasures, like movies, museums, aquariums and pizza places lined with video games and dancing costumed rodents, it seems like the simpler days are still the happiest ones.
Like the egg farm we discovered one day when we spied a hand-painted sign on a back-country blacktop.
Owned by a hulking, soft-spoken guy named Mr. Bolton, it is every little boy's dream come true. Because eggs mean chickens. And ducks. And turkeys. And more.
Lots more.
Because apparently, as far as Mr. Bolton is concerned, there's always room for a few more critters..
The first time we went there, young John Patrick awoke from a nap in the back seat of the car just in time to see a jumbo Tom Turkey careening around a corner of the maze of pens, crates and cages that attempt to hold Mr. Bolton's menagerie.  He saw chickens and geese and ducks and turkeys and pigeons and goats. He spied bunches and bevies of baby bunnies, plus downy little chicks and ducklings and other small fowl of just about every species, style, size and color.
I thought he might be startled at this first glimpse of big Mr. Bolton and his all his animals. But instead, he suddenly broke into a spontaneous bout of clapping; applauding, I think, the sheer wonder of it all.
It was simple and quite amazing, all at once.
It was our kind of entertainment.
It was our kind of day.

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