Dad’s straw hat
An action that is repeated becomes a habit. A habit that is repeated becomes a ritual.
My dad had a habit that I believe became a ritual. He might disagree with me, but since he has been gone for 13 years, my assertion will stand that he had a ritual.
Around the first of June each year, during a visit to his favorite farm supply store, he would buy a straw hat to wear during the summer. There was nothing special about the hat he chose. I remember most of them having a transparent green section in the front above his eyes that looked good, but I could not figure what it accomplished.
This was the hat he wore all summer long, baling hay and straw, cultivating corn, combining oats and doing daily livestock chores. Along with his bib overalls, it was part of his summer uniform.
You could see it change through the summer from its shiny newness to looking well-worn and dirty by summer’s end.
Putting it on and taking it off his head, he picked up the straw hat by the top at the front. At the end of the summer, there would be a hole at the very top of the front from the wear of his hand. He did not mind the additional hole as it provided more ventilation, something appreciated during the month of August.
It is this time of year I can see my dad with his straw hat going about his business each day. If you wondered where to look for him, you could check the hook on the porch. If the hat was hanging from the hook, he was inside. If the hat was not on the hook, he was outside.
At summer’s end, usually during the month of September, he would throw the very well worn straw hat in the waste basket to be burned with the waste paper. And that was the end of the summer’s straw hat.
I always thought that the old faithful straw hat deserved a better ending than to be tossed in with the waste paper and then burned. My dad was not one for sentiment. To him, it was simple. When something was no longer useful, you got rid of it.
I had to admit that I could not come up with anything better to do with a beat up dirty hat with a hole in the top.
My dad had no sentiment for much of his farming things, whether straw hats or tractors. They were tools that had a useful life and then they were gotten rid of or traded in for a newer and probably better one.
You would not see my dad at an event that showed how things were done in the past. He was not affected by nostalgia.
Apparently, as far as he was concerned, he did not need to be reminded about the good old days. Maybe because he thought good days were the ones we have now. Let the past stay in the past.
I was the sentimental one. I wanted to hang on to things just a while longer, whether to get a little more usefulness out of it or to appreciate what it contributed while it was used.
While I can not put my hands on one of my dad’s old weather beaten, well-worn straw hats, I still have the memory and that is not too bad. Besides, kept in my memory means that I don’t have to look for a place to store it nor does it collect dust.
My dad would agree with that.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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