Remembering some lessons of my Elders.
I have always wanted to farm...and at 46 years old with bad back and knees..and only a half acre..that does not look like its going to happen. But all my life I have found myself looking backwards..Yes..I look to the future also..But Even as a child I felt things were being lost before I had the chance to learn them...When I was very little..my Aunt Josie gave me a little book on how to make doll clothes..gosh I wish I still had that book!! By 10 or 11 years old my father had bought me a little child sized sewing machine and for the following Chirstmas..I made my nephew Aaron a hobby horse ( for those of you who are too young to rememeber ) It is a fabric Horses head mounted on a broom stick for little kids to gallup around the house on. ( we used brooms when nothing else was handy) The head was bright orange and the mane was some striped fabric...but he thought it was cool..being just over a year old...I think the colour appealed more than anything else!! My Niece Adrienne I made a little rag doll of denim...I am not even sure where I got these ideas..but somewhere in my childs mind I KNEW that giving a handmade gift MEANT more than buying one.
One day near the end of school...the sun was shining and the sky was clear..my uncle Joe came walking into our house..( We were lucky enough to have lots of family living near) and talked to my mom while we got ready for school. Suddenly mum said.."No school today kids" ( to me and my brother Bob) " You are going to spend the day with you Uncle" And away we went...
I don't rememeber alot...but I do remember driving in the country..eating water cress..and rose hips..and hunting fiddleheads,leeks and spring dandylions.
What a great day that was!!
I remember aunt Doll fishing for trout ( and catching them) in a stream I thought was to small for tadpoles let alone fish..and I learned not to wear a white shirt while fishing in a brook because the brightness would startled them away.
Aunt Audrey Taught me how to clean and cooked smelts..and that when making anything from cast offs..( such as rag rugs) that beauty in the end product was just as important as serviceability. And that to everyone else Dandylions are weeds..but to her..they were a recipe of white wine waiting to be born...And I got the poison Ivy to prove it picking them for her!
Uncle Jim Taught me to watch the animals..( wild and tame) that they had as much to teach with their actions and reactions as any teacher. And that when making a good cup of tea..BIG and HOT and SWEET were MUSTS!
I remember watching aunt Jane work a ball of butter in a wooden bowl with a paddle..rinsing and rerinsing it until the cold water ran clear...( Home made butter) And That you could buy anything in a store..but NOTHING compared to food you bred, fed, planted , butchered or canned yourself! And She also validated my desires to create things like quilts and rag rugs..and that every fabric had a use...from quilts..to rag rugs..to jelly bags and wash cloths!
From my Uncle Bill I learned that Faith is the corner stone of your strength and with faith and love there is no fear...and that there is a song for every mood or occaision. That you could never miss your loved ones..no matter how far away they are..because you carry them in your heart.
From Aunt Gladdy I learned to always put a few bay leaves in my spaghetti sauce..that patience is not just a virtue but a prerequesit to peace..and if Patience fails..always have a set of ear plugs handy. And that Life is a gift not to be taken lightly.
From Aunt Toots I learned to thread my first sewing needle and to sew by hand ( we made little stuffed hearts of red satin and lace trim..remember Jane?) I learned that Lambs Quarter was not only edible..but when young..it's lovely in a salad!
From Aunt Diane I learned that a sense of humour could keep you sane when all else failed...and nothing beat a toasted tomatoe sandwich with a thick slice of beefsteak tomatoe and salt and pepper! And OH GOD...If I ONLY had HER recipe for Hungarian GOULASH!
From Uncle Paul I learned that tomatoes tasted good in everything..and that when you swallow your nickle..he won't give you a replacement..so keep them out of your mouth!
From My mother..I learned that family is sometimes all you have..and good or bad they are yours...I also learned that stealing a dime and stealing a million dollars is STILL STEALING. And that sheets ALWAYS smelled better when fresh off the line...That you don't choose your children..they come into your life..you teach them as much as you can..love them as much as they will allow..and learn to let go. Your children WIll grow up and move away..but your husband is there to stay..so never forget to spoil each other a little..even when you're broke..washing his back..or cooking his favorite meal..or letting him have the remote...are all unspoken words of love that never get forgotten..and can carry you through some nasty storms!
From my Dad I learned...That people get funny around money..That a good book can tune out loud music, bad TV and teenagers arguing. That being a hockey fan is a birthright to be proud of and nurtured..That everyday is a good day if you wake up on the top side of the soil. That sore knees are something to be grateful for because the pain means you are alive. That you can't rush art. That electric tools that can cut through wood, will cut through skin and bone twice as fast, so give them the respect they deserve. That Birds are beautiful..even sparrows...That when starting tomatoes plants..you can start them in an egg carton..and using an empty eggshell to hold the soil helps start the plant off with minerals..that its ok to defend your tomatoe plants from squirrels with a slingshot..that tomatoes do NOT go good in everything ( I made soup with tomatoes in it once and he said..and I quote " You Passmores put tomatoes in EVERYTHING") And that our planet is the only one we have..to treat it with respect. He also taught me my first lesson in acceptance...he said if an astroid like the one that killed the dinosaurs is hurtling towards earth..and you are lucky enough to know its coming..put the kettle on and enjoy a cuppa tea..cuz theres nothing you can do about it..except enjoy the tea!
Suffice it to say..I learned a lot from my elders...And I wished I had paid closer attention..but today I do the best I can with what I have..much like them..I realised recently..that deep down..I never really expected to live past 45...and now that I have..I need to figure out what I truly want out of life...well I have pretty simple needs..The love of my husband and family...a garden to putter in..trips to Arizona now and then..my chickens to give me eggs...a couple of turkeys..and next year some goats ...and we are hoping to tap a few trees. We only have a half acre..but if managed properly..we can have..milk, meat,cheese ,eggs , syrup and produce...and I am going to try my hand at making home made apple cidar vinegar this fall..not totally self sustaining..but pretty darn close to about half way there...and ALL environmentally friendly...I like to quilt..and I make a pretty nice braided rag rug...I can pickle..make jam and a my homemade lunch meats and pastries are nothing to be sneezed at..and in the next year I am hoping to learn how to raise and milk goats...Life is good..I like it simple...It's a choice..not a lack of options..and the closer I get to a back to basics life style..the better I feel!! Don't get me wrong..I love my gadgets..the computer..the phone..the HD TV...But I believe that there is a place for balance..That you shouldn't shuck off the past like it's disposable..that a good future..depends on Remembering the past..and keeping those lessons of the past close at hand..so that while we are working towards the future we are not neglecting today! Because today is all we have.
Live life to the fullest!
Love as many people who will let you!
Respect all living things!
And protect our planet as much as you can..it's our mother..and she sustains us all!