“I’m going to lay my head in Hungry Hollow.”
As the summer begins to wane I always think of late summer activities from my childhood. We used old tractor inner tubes to float down Flat Creek. These were made of thick rubber, they were heavy, and durable. I learned a hard physics lesson around the age of seven. My cousin jumped off his side of the tube, and all hell broke loose. The heavy rubber tube rolled beneath me, the vacant side of the tube came up off the water and smacked me directly in the face. I can still hear the reverberation throughout the inside of the tube after is bounced off my face. The force catapulted me flat onto my back in the water. I laid there in the creek trying to process the event that happened so quickly.
The end of summer also summoned the walnut pickers. For about a month you would see numerous old farm trucks driving around the country, asking farmers if they could pick up the walnuts that fell. I didn’t have an allowance growing up, so one of the few ways for an Ozarks boy to make cash was picking up walnuts. Prices varied from summer to summer, but I specifically remember realizing that the amount of energy compared to the monetary reward just didn’t make much sense. You would spend a long afternoon collecting walnuts into a five gallon buckets to dump into the pickup bed. Once the truck was full, you’d drive into town to the huller. An afternoon of work quickly becomes a few unimpressive bags of walnuts. The last year I participated, I was set on buying a new bicycle. I needed $120. Truckload after truckload led to my discouragement of ever being able to purchase the bike. As I began to load the truck bed again, I realized that if I truly wanted something it didn’t matter the amount of effort it required. Rather than focusing on how slow the progress was coming, I focused on the progress itself. A person has to use whatever painfully slow means they have to achieve their goal.
I still put in a lot of hours for low monetary yield. I still make progress. I often think about the truck full of walnuts when I’m awake in the middle of the night sending booking emails. I traded in walnut stained hands and clothes for dark circles under my eyes and long drives, but it’s worthy work and worth the energy.