By MAE BABER, R.D.2, Brandon, Wisconsin
It isn't really too important what time of year interesting thoughts and ideas come to our minds, is it, as long as they come and add to life the tangy spice we need to keep life always an adventure! Each season has its particular appeal and things that are just asking to be done. The urge to get rid of the winter film and dust sets a housewife cleaning with gusto in the spring. It can't be done early enough to get out into the spring air and dig our fingers into the good earth. Last spring I chafed at the bit worse than an oats-fed horse because my spring house cleaning was badly held up by new plumbing, a needed ceiling in the kitchen, and the installation of a new furnace. My friends and neighbors warned repeatedly 'Don't houseclean, you'll only have to do it over again!' They must have realized that if it isn't finished by a certain time in the spring it won't get finished at all. I paid them heed and have a dirty house. They were right, of course, and we will have to live with it. The furnace has served us for forty years so should be entitled to mess up the family routing some. As it was being removed I remembered having fallen over the base of the cold air register pipe before the rest of the pipes were attached to it, cutting my young leg rather badly. I still carry the scar but pride myself on looking better, after forty years, than the old furnace. I am, at least, not being replaced. There's some consolation in that! I wish it were possible to have some of the energy I had at that time as I chased my twelve year old sister around the basement forty years ago. The farm has been in our family for fifty seven years.
As fall rolls around again there will be things which we can't wait to do. As we contemplate the winter months ahead they can either be a boring wait for spring, or a complete change which is more profitable than spending a lot of time and a lot more money on an aimless winter in the southland. Don't misunderstand me, I love to travel, but a long-drawn-out vacation would only make me lazier than I already am and cause me to feel worse than a pent-up steam engine. Winter can be a time of catching up on reading, worship can be strengthened, sewing can be both profitable and creative satisfaction. Hobbies can be brought up-to-date and you can become young all over again by playing with the grandchildren if you are blessed enough to have some. Neighborhood solidarity can be reestablished by some evening visits, ideas exchanged to bring in another richer season of love one for another.
Last winter I decided to set my writing house in order and made real strides along that line. A writer must have some system or be sunk and all writers I'm sure are not by nature systematic people. It is one of those things that must be worked at and cultivated. To get a scribbled assortment of a hundred poems, six or seven short stories and a batch of Country Echoes into a filing system is no small matter. Into two pretty blue loose leaf folders go the typewritten poems. All must be perfectly centered on their pages. Where there are shorter ones they must be well spaced. Poems must be numbered, card fillers to correspond, notes taken down on whether or not they have been published, where, when, or if rejected also this data. One cannot again send this poem to someone who doesn't want it. This is often the poet's greatest headache. The winter days slipped by on wings as my two books grew. Lovely illustrations which I had saved through the years find a matching poem. They are inserted. One is to be my working book, one to keep for a cherished possession. As I work this thought grows and grows in my mind how marvelous is God's system and how well-ordered His universe. It gives me more impetus to go at everything with more system and more order. In this I have always lacked. So, it seems to me, that to get away from one task and take up another is a challenge and a lift to the spirit. It is as refreshing as a spring rain, for just as after a spring rain life springs anew and produces, so, after getting a system set up one becomes productive. There is no more hunting through frustrating piles of paper. You have what you need where you need it and all the other information about it handy. Then, in a short time you have poems in the mail and feel you are getting somewhere. Some of them come bouncing right back but you bounce them right off again. Some publisher will like you. There are some Elmers in the world. Now - rather than worry about the dust coming up at me when we need a new furnace I can write a column. The rain kept me indoors so I kept time with the hammering of the furnace man and his helper and the noise wasn't near as aggravating if my typewriter was in rhythm. It is moments like these one can find a lift to carry you through three pails of eggs which need washing. I have yet to find the person who enjoys washing eggs.
Spring caught up with me on poem 66. As another autumn sets the trees aflame I shall pick up my unfinished task, and find an interesting pastime, God willing.
My heart now is heavy for a dear friend, who has over fifty years of elementary school teaching to her credit. She is in the last stages of cancer. Only about two or three years ago she retired to do some of the things she has always wanted to do, but God sees otherwise. So we can plan but we never know. A few short weeks ago she told me how she enjoyed baking bread. How then can we waste any of life, for it is so short, and there is so much to do? It is another thought to spur us on to set our houses in order for who can know his time?
Would my house be in order
Should Christ come today,
Or would He find me lazy,
At my empty play -
Guiding aright the ones I love
Or teaching wrong,
Giving the sad more sorrow
Or a courage strong?
Lead Thou in paths of service
Blessed Lord, I pray,
May I be serving gladly -
Should you come today.