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Hot Summer in the Fields

It was a very hot summer’s day just outside of Waldo and I, along with some friends, showed up at the Wasdin farm to pick yellow summer squash for Farmer Wasdin, whose son, Buddy, was one of my very best friends. Buddy had recruited us, and of course, we not only wanted to help them get the crop out of the field, we were anxious to make some summer spending money!

On the first morning, we all showed up at the appointed time of 7am to begin work. As we started picking, we all did our share of complaining about how early we had to get up in order to be at the farm by 7am. But as the day progressed, we teenagers saw and felt the wisdom of an early start. For sure, it was much cooler at 7am than at high noon!

My friends and I were furnished with bushel sized wooden hampers and we made our way down the rows of squash, carefully picking the right size squash. Not too big and, for sure, we were to leave the smaller ones so they had time to reach the ideal size that would fetch a better price.

The beginning of the day was somewhat a piece of cake. We were all rested and ready to go. But, as the hours passed and the sun began beaming down on us, the rows that were 600-700 feet long seemed to be a mile long. It was HOT and tedious work. Unfortunately, none of us brought any water to refresh ourselves! As the morning grew older, the hampers of squash became heavier and heavier and we were all running out of gas.

The Wasdin’s house and their packing shed was about two miles away from where we were working, so I asked Buddy if there was a water faucet out on this section of property, and found out there wasn’t one. He was quite surprised to learn that none of us had brought water along!

Shaking his head at our stupidity, Buddy said, “I’ll be taking a load of squash up to the packing shed shortly and I will bring back some water for y’all.” That was music to our ears and our throats! Even though we were thirsty, we kept picking squash as we were being paid by the hour. Also, the folks washing and packing the squash were dependent on us to get the squash out of the field and up to them. After all, Farmer Wasdin was paying everybody by the hour and, for sure, we couldn’t, nor shouldn’t, hold up production just because we didn’t have the brain cells between us to bring water.

Before long, we welcomed the sight of Buddy as he drove up in his pick-up truck. He got out of the truck with a glass gallon jar full of that long desired water! He went to the rear of the truck and went to lower the tailgate where he was going to place the gallon jar. Just as the tailgate came down, the jar slipped out of his hands and crashed down on the tailgate breaking into a million pieces. Water went everywhere except into our thirsty mouths! What, just moments before, looked like heaven, was now gone. We were devastated!

We didn’t get any water that day until we finished picking and got back to the packing shed. The next day, for sure, everyone of us brought a canteen full of water. And we were all much happier as we picked our way down the rows of squash.

I often look back at this experience, particularly this week when temperatures in my part of Florida reached the high 90s with 90% humidity. Today, when I feel that dreaded heat hit my face, I remember that time back on the Wasdin’s farm picking squash and I subconsciously feel a little thirsty. And I cringe at how irresponsible I was in not being prepared on such a hot summer’s day. I was a country boy and I knew better!

For certain, there were a couple of lessons I learned from that day. First, I discovered that I did not want to pick squash or work in the fields for the rest of my life. Finding a better way of making a living moved into the forefront of my mind. And second, the experience taught me that I needed to be responsible for myself. By not bringing water, I put myself in a dangerous situation. When I left my house that morning, I did not take responsibility over my own health and wellbeing, so I suffered a hot, gruelling day with no water. I could blame someone else for my problem, but playing the blame game wouldn’t have been rational nor have helped me from getting overheated.

By taking responsibility for myself, I have gained true freedom. I am the creator of my own experiences, my own happiness and who I am in this world. With no one to blame, and no one to hold me back, I feel that I have endless growth possibilities.

And, by just taking responsibility just for myself, I allow others to decide what is best for themselves. By so doing, I respect them to make their own decisions as to what they determine is best for their life, to live their own adventure whatever that may be.

I encourage you to make this day one of adventure and to take responsibility for remembering the water - or not.

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