I’ve been thinking a lot about life lessons since Jenn asked me to write stories about history with my family. At the time I didn’t recognize events as a lesson on anything. Come to find out I learned all kinds of things such as how to present myself, what is wrong, what is right, commitment, importance of family, contributing to a community and many others that don’t come to my mind right this moment.
For instance, every year we had a huge garden at my Uncle Henry’s farm. We (me and my three brothers) were expected to help plant, weed, hoe, pick off potato bugs and everything else that went along with keeping the garden in good shape. When I was little I swore the rows of vegetables were at least a mile long. Come to find out they were not quite that long. In the fall we had to help harvest which included picking green beans and cutting them up long into the night. Picking corn and getting it ready for freezing. Beets and tomatoes were canned. Potatoes went into cold storage in the basement. All the veggies were used during the winter months and I don’t recall ever running out before we started harvesting again the next year. There were six people living in our household and we simply needed a lot of veggies. Even though in my mind I thought it was incredible that we were treated like child labor I really learned about working and contributing to the family. One thing I know I learned was that as an adult I never wanted to weed a garden again. I frequent farmers markets and vegetable stands in the summer and fall. Someone has to buy their products and it might as well be me.
Another clear memory is when I wrote on the side of a brick building with chalk. I don’t remember who I was with or what we wrote. We were killing time waiting for the daily paper to come out as we were paper route deliverers. So we were goofing off. When I got home that afternoon my father had already gotten a call from someone. He asked me if I had done that and I told him yes. Next thing I remember is I’m headed down the street with a bucket and sponge to go clean off the building. Guess I learned about cause and effect, responsibility for my actions and chalk doesn’t wash off brick as easy as I thought it might. It took some “elbow grease” to get the chalk off. And, I never did that again.
There were lots of other things I learned growing up such as don’t go out without a hat when it is 10 degrees with a north wind and your hair is wet. That spells a complete disaster which included frost bit ears. Don’t ice skate until you can’t feel your feet because that makes the walk home very very uncomfortable. Be on time.
One of the most important life lessons is that it is okay to have fun with your friends and family members. My brothers and I would play in a brook that went by my Uncle Henry’s farm and we would also fish there for brook trout. We found fascinating things to do in the hay barn. We had a row boat that we took out on the lake on a regular basis. We played monopoly games that lasted for days. I was taught how to watch the grass grow while sitting around talking on any number of summer days.
Don’t look now – there may be a life lesson just around the corner for you.