What are you willing to walk six miles for?

This morning I thought might be a good time to step away from the politics and what’s going on in the news to chat about something else. Recently I wrote about deciding to attempt raised bed gardening and that’s still in the works, but I’ve been pricing materials and downsized my plans (big dreams) quite a bit.

I’ve got an indoor space set-up, with grow lights and heat mats for indoor seed-starting. I did some plastic containers trying the “winter sowing” method, although that seems like a technique that is pointless where I live, since seed stratification, where certain seeds need a period of cold temperatures, isn’t a process that’s going to occur here. I could be wrong. However, I’ve got 5 containers sitting outside with seeds (winter sowing) already sprouted and growing.

Long ago, when I was new to living in the Deep South, I was determined to have tulips in my flower bed in the spring. I tried for years and gave up. I tried storing my bulbs in a paper bag in the fridge in the winter, before planting the bulbs, which was a technique I read about in more than one southern gardening book. That still didn’t lead to tulip success. A few years critters dug up my bulbs and ate them.

Stores do sell blooming tulips here in the springtime, so if I feel some desperate longing for tulips in the spring at some point, I will buy one pot and put it on my kitchen table to enjoy. I realized that continually spending money on tulip bulbs, that are not well-suited to my climate, is a waste, when I could spend that money on many other vegetables or flowers that thrive here.

Being flexible and willing to adjust, as things aren’t going as I hoped or dreamed, has taken me years to develop. At the same time, just quitting and giving up is not the same as learning to adjust and adapt my plans and expectations, especially when facing failure. The hardest thing for me to learn though was that even though my original dreams and big ideas may never materialize, I often realize as I fail over and over, get frustrated, buckle down and try other options, that I gain more from the failures and getting back up to try again, than if I had achieved my dreams easily.

It’s the journey and the lessons learned along the way that matter most.

I still intend to eventually build several raised beds beyond these two, but also I’ve already filled two large, deep rectangular planters with potting soil and planted kale, spinach, radishes and carrots and all but the carrots have sprouted and are growing. I also filled a large round planter that I had in the shed and planted mixed lettuce for salad greens and that’s already sprouted too. I have these on my patio, but might move the lettuce into the sunroom to prevent rabbits from mowing it down.

The high price of materials has made me rethink and readjust my gardening plans already. I bought the materials for two raised beds, but I’m also going to try some economical container gardening options this spring rather than the many raised beds I initially dreamed of.

I like options and although I wish I was as self-reliant as my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I am definitely not. They often didn’t have options and had to make do, under very adverse circumstances, with very little means and what they had.

Along with loving to read history and studying genealogy, I’ve always been fascinated with how ordinary people lived their everyday lives in different times. I wonder about their homes, how they cooked food, how they stayed warm, what kind of clothes they wore, etc. Before the internet, I often read books I found at the library devoted to these topics. I even found a book one time about water in everyday life throughout history, that explored all the fetching and carrying water for everyday life before modern plumbing.

The Pilgrims homes were around 800 square feet and one room. In the 1800s, the typical log cabin was between 12 to 16 feet square, one room and no windows.

Schoolchildren are often taught that President Abraham Lincoln was born in a backwoods cabin. He grew up living in poverty, but he never let that stand in his way to learning things he felt were important. Lincoln is remembered as one of our most eloquent presidents and he wrote his own most famous speeches, including The Gettysburg Address, which set forth an aspirational message of unity for an America torn apart by civil war.

Here’s a memorable quote from The Gettysburg Address:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

My favorite President Lincoln story I found in a book, The Eloquent President, by Ronald C. White, Jr. White wrote about how Lincoln as a young man diligently worked to improve his mastery of the English language:

“When Lincoln moved to New Salem he made the decision to master the English language by an intense study of grammar.  While living in New Salem, Lincoln heard that a farmer, John Vance, owned a copy of Samuel Kirkham’s English Grammar.  Lincoln walked six miles to get it.  He was twenty-three years old.” (pages 102-103)

What are you willing to walk six miles for?

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Filed under American Character, American History, General Interest

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