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SOUDER: A trip to the farm and the ‘good old days’

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There are many wonderful aspects to the valued days of old.

By Chuck Souder

On an early October day a few years ago, my wife and I loaded the kids up in the old front- wheel-drive sleigh and headed to the country for what we hoped might be the start of a long-standing, old-fashioned family tradition – picking apples.

It was the perfect afternoon for a relaxing, quiet day on the farm: The sun was shining, a light breeze was blowing and the temperature was a comfortable 80 degrees. So we headed to Huber Farms, which is just outside the Louisville metropolitan area in the rolling hills of Floyd’s Knobs, Ind., to spend the day with Joe Huber and his family and about 30,000 of our closest friends.

Upon arriving, we were directed to the parking lot (and by “parking lot” I mean “field”) across from the gift store/restaurant/soda shop/petting zoo/playground/picnic area (and pickup locations for wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, apple orchard, corn maze and helicopter tours). We found a parking spot in Scooby Doo 3 and began the half-mile trek back to the gift store/restaurant/soda shop/petting zoo/playground/picnic area (and pickup locations for wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, apple orchard, corn maze and helicopter tours).

After looking briefly at the very lovely (and very expensive) fall decorations for sale in and around the gift store and taking the kids’ pictures sitting on the old-fashioned tractor, we boarded the wagon that was bound for the apple orchard.

Luckily, we got to sit right up front by the tractor, so that we got to enjoy all of the fresh air (and by “fresh air” I mean “dust”) that it stirred up. The driver dropped us and our fellow fruit-pickers off at the orchard, and it was a successful venture. There was plenty of low-hanging fruit for the kids to fill their sacks and plenty of discarded apples on the ground to launch into the nearby pond or play catch with until the wagon returned to take us back to the gift store/restaurant/soda shop/petting zoo/playground/picnic area (and pickup locations for wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, apple orchard, corn maze and helicopter tours).

After paying for our apples and playing on the playground and enjoying the live music in the picnic area and being tempted by the overwhelming smell of the fried chicken coming from the restaurant, we made the half-mile trek back to Scooby Doo 3 and headed home, munching on apples and reflecting on the new family tradition we hoped to have just established.

That afternoon “on the farm” served to make me a bit nostalgic for a simpler time – a time when farms were more like farms and less like theme parks. I remembered spending fall days not unlike that one on my grandpa’s farm just outside the metropolis of Little York, Ind.

Although his farm didn’t have a restaurant, my grandma was a really good cook. Although it didn’t have a playground, there was a swing made from two ropes and a piece of wood that hung from the huge oak tree in their backyard. And although it didn’t have a corn maze or helicopter rides, I remember the thrill of riding with my grandpa in the combine, watching in amazement as it knocked the stalks down in the front and magically spit the corn kernels into the storage bin in the back.

It is also true that my grandpa’s farm didn’t have a gift store or a soda shop, but there were always cold bottles of Orange Crush and Pepsi in the refrigerator.

And then I thought back to a simpler time, not just on the farm but in America generally – a time when girls wore earrings, boys wore belts and only sailors had tattoos. A time when everyone agreed that there was such a thing as right and wrong and mostly agreed on which was which.

A time when personal responsibility was the rule and not the exception. A time when people lived within their means, even though their means were often meager. A time when people knew and cared about their neighbors.

A time in our nation when being a Bible-believing Christian was respected instead of ridiculed. A time when “family values” were rules people lived by instead of a punch line or a phrase hijacked to mean exactly its opposite. A time when no one questioned the meaning of the word “is.” A time when being called a “patriot” was a compliment, not a reason to be targeted by the government. A time when history books didn’t distort (or erase) the well-documented faith of our nation’s founders.

Now, I realize that many will say that the “good old days” to which I fondly refer were simply the “old days” and that we are now a more advanced society with more “progressive” views.

To be sure, there have been some incredible advances in technology, many of which have greatly improved our quality of life. But in many other areas, I’ve found that change is not always for the better, and new doesn’t always mean improved.

Too often “progress” has meant a blatant disregard for the wisdom of the past, and a blind acceptance of ideas that only a generation or two ago would have been unthinkable. I fear that in our quest for enlightenment, we have left the light behind and are unknowingly plunging headlong into the darkness.

Well, in the years that have followed, our new family “tradition” of going to the apple orchard didn’t really catch on. In fact, we haven’t been back to the orchard even once more since then, though from time to time my wife suggests that we ought to.

We still have fond memories of our trip to the farm, but unfortunately, as time has passed, those memories have grown fainter.

I just hope that my kids are able to grow up in a country where the things that made it great are more than just a distant, faded memory.

 

Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org. Find other columns by Souder at www.SentinelNews.com/columns.