When banks closed and hearts opened

As I was writing this column, my daughter came in from outside and exclaimed, “It’s just too hot!”
In my air-conditioned office I felt differently. From my window, I saw only tiny patches of blue sky, framed by branches and, in the foreground, the fiery red flowers of a trumpet vine that covers my garden gate.
It looked cool outside!
But I knew better, so I checked weather.com, which had posted a severe heat warning. It was 103 degrees F while the heat index was 109.
Then I looked at the long-range forecast. For the next eight days, the forecast was in the triple digits—and no rain in sight.
This is our 42nd summer in Kansas and we’ve never seen anything like this. The annual average number of days over 100 degrees in Wichita is 10.5, and the average for the month of July is 4.4.
We’ll almost double that next week!
But worst of all is the terrible drought. Without rain, our gardens are drying up and even my son’s 100-year-old lilac bushes are stressed.
In some parts of Kansas, the drought is worse than it was during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
It reminds me of what my husband says. He grew up in the central plains of Canada and refers to the Depression era as the “dry years.” He remembers day after day without rain and watching their rich topsoil blow away.
Once again, the “dry years” parallel an economic downturn–a “depression” if you will.
Usually, I’m a pretty upbeat person. I laugh and smile a lot, and I can deal with difficulties well. But in recent weeks, I have felt depressed. It takes very little to bring tears to my eyes.
Life looks so grim!
Money is tight and all of us are worried about Medicare and Social Security. And while we have no rain, the Mississippi River Valley suffers historic flooding.
Why wouldn’t people be depressed? In many ways, the summer of 2011 parallels experiences people had during the Great Depression.
The book, “We Had Everything But Money,” is a collection of stories from that era—“when banks closed and hearts opened.”
In a story entitled “How Mom Managed to Postpone the Depression,” Alma Wheaton tells about her mother and her mother’s friend, who had a custom of doing all their entertaining for the year after spring cleaning.
They would invite 12 friends at a time on three-consecutive days.
One year, as Alma’s mother and her friend were preparing the food for their annual parties, Alma’s father came home unexpectedly from his drugstore.
“The bank has closed and all our money is gone!” he reported.
The adults assessed the situation and, in an act of bravery, decided to go on with the parties. Food already was purchased, and they knew all their friends had suffered similar losses.
Alma says the reality set in later. But in spite of the hard times, “There may have been a shortage of money, but there was never a shortage of love and caring.”
During these difficult days, remember Alma’s story and don’t let the “depression” get you down.
Find fun in day-to-day life, and just make sure that there is “never a shortage of love and caring.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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