Jean Schwieder


On our way to the ranch there is an area where two trees grow out in the middle of a field. I don’t know what species of tree they are, but they are too small to be cottonwoods and aren’t quaking aspens. I always look for those when we are on that road. Sometimes, if cattle are grazing the field the trees are in, there will be cattle lying under the trees. When it is hot there is not a lot of shade, but they do produce some shade. And often more than one cow would be lying close together under the tree.

I got thinking of how often we, as humans, fail to take the time to see someone in need thus missing opportunities to share, even if what we share isn’t much. Giving small amounts of shade can help another on a hot summer day.

How like that tree we are as we hurry through our busy lives. We rush so much that we fail to see someone who only needs a small amount of “shade” or attention or help. Even a smile can help those who are sad, a touch on the arm, and friendly “hello.

There is a song we used to sing in Primary when I was young that brings this to mind: “Give Said the Little Stream.”

Give said the little stream

Give oh Give, give oh give.

Give said the little stream as it hurried down the hill.

I’m small I know but wherever I go

The grass grows greener still

Singing, singing all the day,

Give away oh give away.

Singing all the day,

Give oh give away.

Because of this pandemic we are experiencing plus some health problems that decided to pop up at the same time, I am not leaving our home very often and I shy away from crowds or places where there might be groups of people. This has caused me to experience some depression, which I hate. The other day Boyd got a phone call from a dear friend, Carole Lee Hall. He visited with her and then he said to her, “Jean is here, I’ll let you talk with her.” I said, “I don’t wat to talk to anyone. I don’t want to talk to her.”

Boyd insisted on giving me the phone, and she had heard my comments. I can imagine how hurt I would be if I had been her place. We talked for just about 2 minutes. The next morning Carole Lee called me and I apologized to her. She spent most of the conversation telling me what she admired in me. I’m sure she doesn’t realize what an influence that had on me. She had offered me shade that I didn’t know I craved! She didn’t get flowery, just I could feel her sincerity and love over the phone!

The change in my attitude and even my physical well-being was phenomenal. I can’t believe how much better I felt, how much energy I had, how I wanted to do more and return this favor to others. Kindness, giving, listening, are gifts that we can give others! But we sometimes get caught up in our own discomfort that we forget to offer those thing.

How many times have we offered a grocery shopper standing behind us line, to trade places as they only have a few things and we have a cart full? How often do we smile and wave as we drive pass someone we know but haven’t seen in quite some time? Do we ever make phone calls just to tell someone we miss seeing them? Are we kind to those who wait on us in stores or check us out at the grocery store, or those looking sad or heavily burdened? Can we not be like the little stream and touch other’s lives as we “hurry down the hill?”

We need to remember, if there are no receivers there can be no givers. We must learn to be receivers, learn to accept smiles, favors, telephone calls, others reaching out to us. That isn’t always easy but it is necessary. As we become more giving we also become more able to receive.

During this time of health and political upheavals, let’s take the time to be a good neighbor, to bring lightness into the darkness of other’s lives, and to receive those gifts as they are offered to us. Let’s be willing to share the shade that we have!

Jean Schwieder is a writer who has spent her life involved in eastern Idaho agriculture. Her books, including past columns, are available by calling 208-522-8098 or by email at straddlin

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