Slow Down, Watch

Reader Contribution by Sherry Leverich Tucker
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I’m glad to have grown up before the
super-electronic revolution. The only video game we had was an
Atari, and is wasn’t but a novelty. Besides that there was a couple
of arcade games and a pinball at the local laundry mat. In high
school we played around with some binary programming and in college I
took Pascal (an early programming program). A finicky television
that could receive three or four stations was the only square box
entertainment in our home. We listened to the radio a lot, and spun
LP’s.

A lot of time was spent outside, riding
bikes, playing ball, swimming and working. My mom and dad both
worked at home, on the farm, full time. I could at anytime find my
mom taking care of the calves, cooking, canning, gardening and on and
on. I always enjoyed being at Mom’s side, I loved watching her knead
bread, and she always let me help. I also enjoyed watching her can
vegetables from the garden. I liked any project that required her to
use the small food grinder she would screw onto the edge of a little
table that sat in the middle of the kitchen and used as an island.
The smell of cucumbers, onions and peppers going through the mill on
their way to becoming relish was so fresh and summery.

Before I was big enough to do so
myself, I would watch Mom cut out a dress pattern, or a shirt for my
brothers. She would spread the material on the bed or on the dining
table, pin it all around, then cut them out. Mom always let me have
bits of leftover material to hand piece into blankets for my
stuffed-up animals (that’s what I called my teddy-bears). Mom and I
learned to crochet together when I was five years old. One of my
first projects was a variegated brown scarf in double crochet. Mom
liked making pillows and slippers as gifts for friends.

My mom and I still enjoy working
together, whether it is canning, gardening or crafting. Since
growing up with her guiding me and us helping each other, we easily
anticipate each other. This makes it very comfortable and natural to
work with her. I cherish our time together.

In growing up, I also enjoyed watching
my dad work. It was very different than working with mom, though.
Dad’s work was more in the line of be still and be out of the way. So
much of his work was maintenance and repair, and he was so methodical
and deliberate. Every spring before hay season I would watch for
days as he worked at getting all the equipment ready for the big job
ahead. The long sickle mower worked by sliding triangularly shaped
blades back and forth to cut the hay. Dad would attach it to the
tractor and bring it near the shop where he had his tools. He would
take off every one of those triangular blades and individually
sharpen, reattach and adjust each one. I remember windy spring days
sitting under the walnut trees, playing with the dogs and watching my
dad do this.

One of my absolutely favorite things to
watch him do was repair an inner-tube. Safety was very important to
Dad, so I was told to stay a good distance away from any vehicle or
large machinery if he had it jacked up to remove a tire. After he
had removed the tire, he would lean it up again the large walnut tree
next to the shop and I could sneak in a little closer. It was
amazing to watch him wedge the large tire irons between the wheel and
the tire to separate the two. Once that was accomplished he would
take the tube out from the tire and inspect it, find the hole and
mark it with a piece of chalk. The next step was the intriguing part
that fascinated me. He would bring out a canister which contained
all the components necessary to repair an inner-tube hole. I can’t
remember the exact process, but I remember kneeling next to him to
see close-up how he would clean the hole, use special tools to
prepare the surface for the cement, then adhere a patch. Dad would
take his time in these tasks, and as the new patch cured and sealed,
he would methodically put his patch kit away, tucking it in a special
spot above his workbench in the shop. When the tube was ready, he
would fill it with air and checked for leaks either using soapy water
or dunking it in the stock tank. Then, the process reversed as he
tucked the tube back into the tire, and used the irons, again, to
affix it back onto the wheel. With the repaired tire back on the
machine he was ready for the next task.

I cherish these memories, and I
appreciate that I had the opportunity to watch my parents at their
work. With all the distractions of our current times, it’s even more
of a challenge to slow down and watch. Modern convenience that has
enabled us to do things faster, and have information instantaneously
has somehow stripped us of the ability to just cease from it. I feel
that if we want to connect to our families, to our neighbors and to
the people that we love that live in the community around us, we must
somehow retrain ourselves to slow down and watch, listen and share,
love and care. These are the things that help us learn to connect
and build healthy, positive relationships with those who are near.

Can We Reconnect? 

There are ways to build habits of
sharing. Simple things like sharing extra produce from your garden
with neighbors, or helping a friend or neighbor with yardwork or
gardening. Get children involved in helping cook supper, or rake
leaves to be used as mulch for next summers garden. Don’t be afraid
to ask for help, even if you don’t need it. Maybe your neighbor
would enjoy helping you split and stack that pile of wood. Maybe
they have a smoker and needed some small pieces of that split
oak…maybe they will share some smoked meat next time they fire it
up, or leave room for your pork roast. It starts with you.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS has started a great
project called “International Homesteading Education Month” every
September, which includes a database of workshops and speakers
available on various projects and activities. Become a neighbor like
Rona Roberts (author, Sweet, Sweet Sorghum) who developed “Cornbread Suppers” in Lexington, Kentucky. Every Monday evening,
Rona opens her house for anyone to join at her home for supper.

Please use the comment box below to
share your favorite way to connect and learn with your children,
family and friends. We can all use inspiration and encouragement to
nurture the lives of those around us.

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