BRANDON WISCONSIN R.R-2 ZIP-53919
As the years begin to build a sizeable total around our accumulative life people become more retrospective, it seems. The good old days--the good old days-- this becomes our cry of relief as we face this day. And then I begin to wonder at how good the good old days really were.
I have just finished reading Chet Huntley's new book, THE GENEROUS YEARS. He tells much of his childhood experiences as a boy growing to manhood on a Montana farm. It is really a story of survival with the elements as these pioneers came to claim free land and make homes for themselves in this formidable land. And lest you Montana dwellers think I am slandering your state, may I quickly add that Wisconsin can be formidable also, especially in January and February. As I write this column it is the first day of May and the furnace is running right now. The men have put the grain into the soil wearing sheep lined coats at times.
But through all the cold of our winters, each spring is something to anticipate with utter unbelief. After thirty two years of living in one place our garden is becoming a cheerful array of color all summer long. One learns, and one plans. 'Oh,' you say to yourself as you wipe your soiled hand over your itching nose. 'Oh! Those two blossom at the same time! They should be lovely planted together!' And then you decide which should be planted in front of the other to make a pretty picture from your kitchen window or a thing of joy for the passerby.
You gradually eliminate the mistakes you made in early ignorance as you planted this and that with this and that in more enthusiasm than good sense. Your patch of Bloodroot is spreading, the Jack In The Pulpit is becoming well established, The Dutchman's Breeches are really showing up for the first time and the Vinca Minor has finally made a blue and green carpet covering some choice tulip bulbs. AND they are keeping down the weeds as I had hoped they would. Hooray!
This is about the time I whisper a prayer of thanksgiving that bulbs multiply for now I can count twenty five or thirty blossoms on my Red Emporer tulips. I started out with three bulbs of R. E. And, at last, there are large patches of beautiful jonquils from what was one bulb of a kind in the beginning. Divide and multiply works here also.
Each year there must be something new in the garden. This keeps up a lively interest, and usually every year something dies. And who can part with such things as the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart? Someone gave me a fresh start this spring when they decided it was time to move their old plant. Had I done this on time I would not have lost my mother's plant. The root began to rot from the bottom and that was the end.
Many are the miles I have traveled on the footboard of that engine. One time, I had low water at the top of a long hill, so I unhitched from the tank wagon and backed down the hill and filled up with water, then went back up the hill after the tank. That was the best steaming boiler I ever had anything to do with.
Plants are like children, they need love and attention but also discipline. Some of them will run all over the garden without proper curbing. But I think they appreciate being kept in their place. And plants need room, too, room to be beautiful so they may feel the air around them. They respond to love, they thrive on care.
Some of my mother's peony plants are still here, in the same spot she had them. To have to dig them up would be a task I wouldn't want to think about. They are part of the good old days. Some of her roses still remain and I cherish them. The one lilac bush I played around as a child is still sending out lovely trusses of flowers every year. They help to bind me to the past, but I surely get a great sense of living out of the present.
My garden is one of 'my things' as the present generation says. Perhaps our generation hasn't been appreciative enough of what is here now. If we give to our families a sense of exhilerating interest in the here and now we will help to bring the misguided ones back to knowing life can be a tremendous adventure, not a bore to put up with as they live out heir meaningless existence.
I know everyone doesn't have wide open spaces around them but I have seen lovely geraniums in wretchedly poor house windows. I have seen a colorful pot of flowers hanging on a delapidated porch. I carried a cactus root back from a shack in Kentucky. The occupant was a happy person.
And my neighbors-Well I just can't say too much for them. Sure-they are human, but so am I. And as for antiques, I have them too, and cherish them. But I will not hearken back to the good old days and lose this day in which I live. And if this is such a good day for me to live in, tomorrow, while it will bring its toil and its pain, will be even better.
And above all to the Christian there is always the blessed hope--'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.' II Corinthians 2:9. Doesn't this fill you with a great anticipation? I can scarcely wait, but in the meantime you can count on it I am not going to miss a thing.