Long, long ago in what sometimes seems like another galaxy far away, people would go out camping for a weekend without television, cell phones and electricity. The moms and dads hurried home from work on Friday afternoon, moved the cold stuff from the refrigerator to ice chests, tossed the chests and a few other last-minute items into an already packed camper, hitched up the boat and headed for the river.
Watching the Fort Pierre Fire Department's fireworks display from a boat on the Missouri River is a marvelous way to end a Fourth of July. The light show more than offsets the tricky and sometimes dangerous business of getting back to the dock in the dark. This year the trip back was more intense than usual. First, I must say that the consensus in our boat -- adults, teens and kids -- was that the fireworks display was the best in all the years we've anchored off-shore near the rodeo grounds and watched starbursts light the sky almost directly over our heads.
So, I've been a little busy at work for a while, and it was only the other evening that I read through the sports pages of several recent papers and noticed that there's a World Cup soccer thing happening overseas somewhere. I don't always read much of the sports, but I like to read sports columns, and this guy Mike Wise from the Washington Post had a piece in The Daily Republic earlier this week. The headline caught my eye (and, yes, that's what a headline is supposed to so, so it worked nicely, and good job to the headline writer).
Growing up, it never occurred to me to wonder if my dad ever struggled to be a good father. It never crossed my mind that the big old farmer with the massive forearms and faded, striped overalls ever might have had his doubts about the way he was raising the three boys and two girls he and his bride brought into the world.
I struggle sometimes to locate the latch that pops the hood on my pickup, but there was a time when I was a bit of a mechanic. That time was decades ago, and mechanical things were more, well, mechanical. If something went wrong, you'd pop the hood, listen to the motor (or if the vehicle wouldn't start, you'd listen to the way the engine tried to turn over) and diagnose the most likely problems.
Sage has been dancing at powwows for a few years already, young as she is. Her dancing sometimes floats along somewhere above the surface of the drum beat and the songs of the singers. Sometimes it appears as if she and the music are part of the same spirit.
You know I don't obsess about age, but like almost anyone else, I like the idea of living a while longer. Every passing year make it less likely that I'll live "longer,'' but every passing year also means I have lived longer, so there's a balance somewhere. I work with mostly younger people. I suppose anyone who is 70 years old and still working a steady job works mostly with younger people. That's fine by me.
Sometimes I feel bad for kids who grow up having never experienced the wonders of playing in a barn. By playing in a barn, I don't mean "The Barn,'' the storied old gymnasium where South Dakota State College played its home basketball games for decades. That was a great place, too small by half to hold the fans that packed and stacked their way to the rafters. Recently, by the way, in email exchange, Lamoine Torgerson talked about living in the "gym dorm'' under the Barn. He made it sound uninhabitable, like the New York subway tunnels in a post-apocalypse movie.
It still feels odd to be rooting for Chicago in the National Hockey League playoffs. Sure, I'm a Chicago fan. I've cheered for the Bears in the National Football League since before Gale Sayers became the magician in their offensive backfield, before Dick Butkus growled across the defensive line at quarterbacks, even before Mike Ditka became the epitome of a professional tight end. The Bears and I go way back. But that's mostly because where I grew up, the Bears were always one of the teams that played on television on Sundays. George Halas owned and coached the team.
One of the problems with being a people pleaser, which I have tried nearly all of my life to be, is you end up in situations that are way outside your comfort zone. That's how I wound up taking a solo in one of the songs the CHS dance band performed for the junior-senior prom banquet one spring evening half a century ago. Several levels of people pleasing were involved in that moment, which included a humiliating moment in the public eye that I remember with perfect clarity to this day. The first level came when I joined the dance band. I didn't want to be in any old dance band back then.