of Mammon," return to simple life
Special to the
Courier & Press
Monday, June 26,
few weeks ago David and Valerie West and I went out to the
country to pick strawberries in the rural areas Northwest of
Evansville. Our inquiries yielded no strawberries as all of the
U-Pick places were closed because it was apparently very late in
the season and the fields were almost picked clean.
When we returned to their home, we decided to spend a few
minutes picking cherries from a rather small but fecundate
cherry tree a few feet from their home. As we gathered the
small, crimson morsels amidst the wax green foliage of the tree,
we spent the time conversing about future projects (planting
green beans and picking strawberries later in the week) visiting
with Valerieís aunt and enjoyed the slightly overcast skies and
warm afternoon weather.
Steeped in the splendor of this rural Posey County farm, my mind
drifted back many years to a childhood visit to another farm on
the Ford Road a little further out Highway 62, the home of a
cousin of my Great Grandmother Ida Grossman, the home place of
Ed and Amelia Tiemann.
While it has been so many years ago, the memory of this place
remains indelibly etched in my mind. The occasion for the visit
was to pick black raspberries but the Tiemannís seemed to always
have much more in their garden than what you came to get. The
house was a white, clapboard structure not unlike those depicted
in the Andrew Wyeth paintings of rural Maine and Pennsylvania.
Ed and Amelia, aged with a wholesome beauty in their later
years, seemed like a couple straight out of American Gothic.
it was the large back yard that contained the magic. There was a
huge grape vine woven onto a large white lattice trellis not far
from the back door. Flower beds were planted everywhere. Beneath
a huge shade tree nearby was a small wooden glider in which they
no doubt passed many an evening sunset together amid the
picturesque garden and well-manicured lawn that framed the back
of the house.
There were several purple martin houses where pairs of the
little birds would rear their families. They would swoop down to
the lush green grass gathering bugs and worms to be consumed by
garden seemed to go on forever with everything from spinach to
tomatoes, bush beans, pole beans, roasting ears, lettuce,
squash, cucumbers, celery, carrots -- you name it!
Every summer Amelia would come to Howell for weekly visits to
grandmotherís house bringing to town the beautiful produce which
became Sunday dinner for our family. Always greeting us with a
smile and a joyful lilting voice, Amelia seemed quite content
and grounded in the rural manner of her life and eager to please
her relatives and customers.
this particular visit, the sky was deep blue and dotted with the
occasional huge white, billowy clouds. The air was fragrant in
the manner unique to such a rural setting. Ed, Amelia and the
visitors quietly conversed some distance from the back yard,
while a young boy peered up into the vastness of the enormous
blue sky and the lush beauty all around. He laid on the green
lawn making grass angels for a while until the quiet voices were
interrupted by the report of a tractor engine in a distant field
of an adjacent farm.
Consumed by the beauty and opulence of this simple family farm,
after several minutes it occurred to the young boy that this
experience must come as close to heaven as one can witness as
long as they are on this earth.
Having planted several gardens since that day, I now know that
such beauty does not occur simply by waving a magic wand. It is
the product of years of blood, sweat, tears and dedication to a
fleeting lifestyle which all too many of us find an
anachronistic relic of years gone by. Today this lifestyle is
incrementally threatened by those who worship at the concrete
and asphalt alter of Mammon, the bulldozer and the bushhog.
have not returned to the old home place of Ed and Amelia Tiemann
in my adult years -- considering the commercial development
which has occurred in thirty-five years Lord only knows what I
Would it be too much to ask for the commercial developers to
discover the magic of making grass angels? Maybe then the
wetlands, the open fields, the family farms - indeed, even the
little cherry trees -- would not all be such endangered species?
David Coker is an Evansville free lance writer. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org