First Things: Advice from an old farmer.
January may deliver a clean slate, but for me, the arrival of spring is all about new beginnings. There's something about spring cleaning, planning the garden and clearing away the debris of winter that fills the soul with steely resolve and good intentions. It's also a time when country wisdom comes to mind. Here are a few pearls sent to me by a friend, titled "Advice from an Old Farmer":
Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong. Keep skunks, bankers and lawyers at a distance. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump. A bumblebee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled. Meanness doesn't just happen overnight. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you. It doesn't take a very big person to carry a grudge. Forgive your enemies: It messes up their heads.
You cannot unsay a cruel word. Every path has a few puddles. The best sermons are lived, not preached. Don't judge folks by their relatives. Most of the stuff people worry about never happens. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
Don't interfere with something that isn't bothering you. Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got. (Or, as my father used to say, "Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.")
The biggest trouble-maker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning. Always drink upstream from the herd. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in. If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.
It's spring, and all the world is new again. One more bit of country wisdom: Remember to stop and smell the roses!
Leslie McManus, Editor