Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Bark and The Bite

“There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
                                                                                                          ― Will Rogers

What farm kid hasn't known the sting of the electric fence. Dad said it was to keep the animals in. I think perhaps it was to keep the kids out. I remember once when I was intent in getting from the south field to the back lane. I picked up a damp stick and pushed up the electric fence, so I could wiggle my way beneath it. Dad didn't tell me that the stick would carry the electric pulse. I can still feel the tingle in my fingers from that one of a kind jolt.

All kids want to discover things for themselves. That rebellion that takes place when a parent warns a child not to do something making it irresistible to the youth. I remember the story of my dad eating a leaf of poison ivy because someone told him he would never get it again if he did. Well, that certainly back fired. He never got poison ivy again and was lucky to live through it.

I guess most kids think in terms of  'why not' instead of 'why'. Many times I think that my parents were too busy to listen to my questions. Instead I just found my own answers which sometimes carried a jolt along with them.

Our neighbors, Victor and Doris, had two trees struck by lightning. The first tree had been hit with the current traveling down through the tree across the roots and up through the neighboring tree. The trail was evident by the path of broken bark. The wood of the tree carried the current beyond what was expected of such a strike. Immediately, my thoughts returned to the stick and the electric fence.

Indeed that electric jolt has met with many a country kid. I did learn lessons the hard way. I learned to read and to observe. I learned that an event that strikes one can carry over into the life of another. I learned that one should never pee on an electric fence.

On A Grandparent's Voice: An Extraordinary Life

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