Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BACK ON THE FARM; part 2; By A Farm Woman Who Went Back; 1930

"Mother, where can I go, where can I play, what can I do?" Such questions pommeled us continually in town. Small wonder. We lived bang up against a dusty highway, packed tight between two houses, one containing an old couple, the other a lonely old man. Luckily, the old man was deaf. The couple were not. They had raised one family of boys on a farm and were entitled to quiet. But how could I keep it so? Our sandpile, where the children of the neighborhood gathered, was under their dining room window. One day the children were having a hilarious time--in the hammock. Mrs. G--- complained. I did not blame her. Mercy, I wanted quiet myself. But what could I do about it with--well, about twenty children. I sent them to the other side of the house--the deaf side--but there was nothing to do there. A neighbor farther on had an apple tree, though. Soon she called me on the telephone, most righteously indignant: "You're children are in my apple tree, eating all my apples."

So that's where the gang had gone. I called them home. I did not scold. Children have to do something ; the blame is to grownups who don't provide the right something. I simply explained; I was always having to explain. Perhaps I took all the children into the house to make cookies; in times of stress I often did that.

But I did some hard thinking, too; perhaps praying.

"Dear God, put us back on the farm where the children can make all the noise that they want to, and eat all the green apples."

Better a stomach ache than a bruised mind.

If the children were not under my feet I worried about whom they might be annoying. I tried to keep them busy. I hunted paper jobs, and helped them deliver the papers. I pestered my friends: "Haven't you a lawn for a good boy to mow?" So few wanted to bother with boys; they wanted men to do their mowing.

Reading of the wildness of present day youth I knew it would floor me if my children did likewise. That all young people were wild I did not believe, nor would I let mine be--if possible.

I have never wanted my children to "have it easy." The hardening process of life is as necessary to a child's soul as work is to his body. I wanted to teach my children to do what they did not like to do, cheerfully. (A thing, alas, it took their mother long to learn.) I wanted to teach them the dignity of labor and the great truth--so scorned by this age--that they can never be truly happy outside of their work. In no place, that I knew of, could I better teach these things than on a farm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BACK ON THE FARM; part 1; By A Farm Woman Who Went Back; 1930

Yes, after five years in town we are back on the farm. And how glad to get back! What thrills we are getting. Those minute particles of happiness that all the world is seeking elsewhere we are finding at our farm home, one after another.

If that is the way we feel about a farm one might wonder why we ever left in the first place. The only reason seems to be that necessity demanded it. Like many other farmers, we bought too much land when the war boosted farm prices dropped below normal. Yet I value those five hard years in town. In no other way could I have acquired so true a sense of values; could I have seen how much better off than the average town family is the average farm family.

Why did we move back? You've heard this: "The farmer gets his living, and that's about all." Well, that is why we moved back. We wanted that living, rather than the one that was ours in town.

We were "getting no place" in town. Studying the situations of friends who were blessed with more material possessions, with larger salaries than we were, we decided that they were getting no place either. To be sure, they should have arrived somewhere for they were going, going, going, all the time; dances, parties, conventions, motor trips. (People on a farm are so tied down; you've heard that, too.) No doubt they considered that they got a better living than the average farmer, but what a price they paid of it! Letting the things that they wanted to do pass them by; making contracts they did not care for; worrying, hurrying, gathering to them nothing worthwhile, though they thought they were living. They saved no money, either; instead debts madly pursued them.

Even could we have afforded it, that was not the kind of living we wanted. We wanted soil that would bloom at our touch, an outdoors where our children could make all the noise that they wanted to, a home where the evenings would not find us scattered: Father in his office , Mother at Women's Club, the children at the movies. And farming is such a together job! Don't you think so?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THE GARDEN OF LIFE; by Dr. John W. Holland; part 2 of 2; 1930

Do you want the red apple? Knowledge is the first step in the ladder of life. By knowledge men can make nature's forces do their bidding. They can unsheathe the hidden secrets that help them to create a new world, and better living conditions in it. To possess knowledge has been considered the greatest gift. And yet, can the understanding of the head make over the heart of man? It cannot. Nowhere has it been found that knowledge alone has made the earth better. There is something more than knowledge!

The white apple is the apple of the heart. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Since character is determined by what we care for, then our hearts are the important things.

Some have had gold and knowledge, but have plowed the earth with war and sowed it with hate. I have often been impressed with the great character in "Pilgrim's Progress." It is "Mr. Greatheart." People with wrong heads and false ideals came to him, and he shed light upon their pathway.

Jesus came as a teacher, not of the speculations that men could not understand, but of the simple truths of the heart, that "he who runs may read."

Women may be tempted to think that their work in the training of children is not so showy as the gay cavalcades of society folk, but it is far more lasting. The mother who teaches a child the meaning of truth-telling has done more good than any glib-tongued doubter, even through he knows the lore of many books.

When you feel discouraged with your lot, wondering whether or not you have chosen well, turn to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews and read it again. If you doubt that the possession of good character is the one supreme attainment in life, look over the front page of any daily paper, and see the wrecks caused by people who want wealth or knowledge apart from good character.

There was another provision in the ancient fable concerning the white apple. "No lack or want should long come to those who chose this apple."

A Bible writer said, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." In another place read, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."

Which apple do you propose to take?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

THE GARDEN OF LIFE; by Dr. John W. Holland; part 1 of 2; 1930

I want to tell you a story. Once upon a time, when the world was young, there was a great garden in a valley. It signified the entrance into life. An old man, who represented the wisdom of the world, sat at the gateway, through which each young person, arriving at adulthood, had to pass. The old gatesman pointed out to them the way through the garden.

Near the entrance stood a tree the like of which none had ever seen. Upon its branches hung three kinds of apples, yellow, red, and white. Each young person who came was allowed to pluck but one of these apples. He must choose.

The yellow apple gave the youth power to turn his ventures into gold. He would be made successful, and attain the power that gold gives to men.

If the entrant should choose the red apple, he would gain knowledge. The book of the world gain knowledge. The book of the world would lay open before him and its mysteries be unraveled. He would be enabled to accomplish everything that he desired in life through the power of knowledge.

The white apple conferred a different power. Whoever chose it would attain the power of becoming personally agreeable, pure in character, and "become patient, even with cranky old women." Through the white apple he would have power to make the world happier and better.

Only one apple might be chosen. That rule was passed to prevent an envious person from choosing all three, and thus becoming a pest in the world.

Whoever you are that reads this: You are as the youth in life's garden.

Do you want the yellow apple? Who does not desire gold? We live in a world of things. Since money is the chief thing-getter, therefore to get money seems to be the chief thing.

Gold has great power. It can aid in every great undertaking. It can be turned into books, food, shelter, and medicine. On the other hand it can engender jealousies that curse the earth with wars. It can create artificial distinctions among people that are almost impossible to eradicate. Gold is not the greatest thing!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

THORN APPLES AND SWEET ACORNS; by Elizabeth Wilson; 1915

I love the taste of thorn apples and sweet acorns and sumac and choke-cherries and all the wild things we used to find on the road to school.

And I love the feel of pussy willows and the inside of chestnut burrs.

I love to walk on a country road where only a few double teams have left a strip of turf in the middle of the track.

And I love the creaking of the sleigh runners and the snapping of nail-heads in the clapboards on a bitter cold January night.

In the first cool nights I love the sound of the first hard rainfall on the roof of the gable room.

And I love the smell of the dead leaves in the woods in the fall.

I love the odor of those red apples that grew on the trees that died before I went back to grandpa's again.

I love the fragrance of the first pink and blue hepaticas which have hardly any scent at all.

I love the smell of the big summer raindrops on the dusty dry steps of the school house.

I love the breath of the great corn fields when you ride past them on an August evening in the dark.

And I love to see the wind blowing over tall grass.

I love the yellow afternoon light that turns all the trees and shrubs to gold.

I love to see the shadow of a cloud moving over the valley, especially where the different fields have different colors like a great checkerboard.

I love the little ford over Turtle Creek where they didn't build the bridge after the freshet.

I love the sunset on the hill in Winnebago County, where I used to sit and pray about my mental arithmetic lesson the spring I taught school!

Monday, August 1, 2011

VACATION TIME; by Alta Booth Dunn; 1930

Oh, all the care-free world is gypsying
While I, home-bound, must do the hearth-tending!
But Summer's at my cottage door
With blithesome visitors galore;
With birds and bees, and little winds that bring
Perfume from many a lovely blooming thing;
With fleecy clouds that run like lambs at play,
And thunder storms in splendid pageantry...

So all the day I work and sing
And go a-traveling
On fancy's wing!