SMITH COLUMN: Sanford Outing

Published 10:30 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

That first home football game — even with deplorable heat — nonetheless resonates with college football fans across the country. We can’t wait for football season to get underway with the highest of hopes.

With Labor Day coming up after the weekend, we know that more compatible temperatures should greet us, hopefully in the ensuing fortnight.  Never can tell, however.  The weather is as unpredictable as a scorned woman.

Labor Day is our last big holiday before Thanksgiving, and with the days becoming shorter, cooler nights should prevail as we move into October, the most glorious month of the year.

This is “swelter before sweater” weather and I can’t remember it ever being hotter than it has been lately. Not sure what the record-keeping might reveal, but this is certainly one of the hottest Augusts in memory.

Does that have anything to do with our problems, social unrest, for example. If not the root of our issues, the heat likely exacerbates societal problems.  

However, with abundant rain, the crepe myrtles seem more attractive than ever. These flowering trees at peak bloom help take our minds off the heat, and I am always eager to sing their praises every August.   

This time of the year, I hark back to the days on the farm when nobody seemed too worried about the heat. It was hot and everybody noticed, but it was expected.

Farm work had to be done. Pulpwood had to be cut. Big trees had to be felled, roads had to be paved, cotton had to be picked. Tobacco had to be cropped.

We still showed up for church on Sunday and prayed for rain.  Following a few showers, if they came, we prayed that the dastardly hurricanes wouldn’t come up from Florida and ruin our cotton crop.

Down on the farm, always, there was something to worry about.  There was no air conditioning, and you were lucky if there was a big fan to enhance a restful night of sleep. You practiced football in the heat, just as they do now, a reminder that some things never change.

If you had a grove of trees of any type, you gloried in the most wonderful thing there was to enjoy — abundant shade which provided comfort and relief from the sun.

It was always hot in church. The windows were always open and sometimes there was a bit of a breeze, but the hellfire and damnation sermon countered that.

I was always intrigued that the minister could paint such a graphic picture of how bad hades was, his voice rising like the tides of destruction he referenced, and you are fanning furiously with Kent Funeral Home fans.

Those handheld fans didn’t do all that much for the heat, helping with the smallest of doses, but they were good to keep the gnats out of our eyes and away from your face.

I can remember how everybody talked about how wonderful a place that heaven would be, and I was always thinking that it was good to aspire to go there, concluding that surely there were no gnats or rattlesnakes in heaven.

While everybody prayed for rain, I was happy to join in, but I never prayed without reserving time for defense of rattlesnakes. I prayed that I would never come close to one of those slithering unprintables.  When my Sunday School teacher said that the serpent, which tempted Eve, was cast out of the Garden of Eden, I knew it had to be a rattlesnake.

My conclusion is there will always be good and bad in the world.  When it is miserably hot, the blooms of the Crepe Myrtle give us emotional peace with their soothing blooms which last indefinitely.   

When football begins, heaven awaits one college team which has been Georgia for two years in a row, but the serpents in Tuscaloosa, Knoxville, Baton Rouge, College Station, Columbus, Ann Arbor, and elsewhere want to turn the table and cast the Bulldogs out of the College Garden of Eden.

If you win, nobody cares about the weather.