I think I’ve always had a sense of history … always been drawn to things that are old. Old houses, weathered barns, vintage signs … they all pull me in. And while few of us remember when dandelions or mustard greens were gathered on the farm, still fewer remember when milk was churned into butter, vegetables kept fresh in the cellar, or the sound of whippoorwills late at night. All those simple country pleasures.
There’s something deeply personal about those hard-won memories. And while I admit only the whippoorwills are a part of my past, I often wonder if today our fast-paced, wi-fi world is simply too soft. Emails and text messages have replaced lovingly handwritten letters. Home-cooked meals can sometimes still be found, often only on Sunday … fast-food seems the norm. And while chatting with neighbors over the backyard fence was once so common, TV shows and video games now fill our evenings.
Oh, I have a love/hate relationship with technology! Certainly it’s opened up new worlds … we can learn so much, and yet, I often think it’s taken the place of good, old-fashioned “getting-to-know-you” moments.
While at lunch with my mother-in-law recently, I was saddened to see a mother and son at a nearby table … both were on their phones. I don’t know if they were playing games or surfing the net, but they were completely invisible to one another. Not once was there conversation or interaction during the meal. Finally, when it was time to leave, they looked up at each other.
At another table, I noticed two women being seated. The elderly woman appeared to be a mother to the second. She was dressed up, and appeared to be anxious for their time together. After being seated, she tucked her walker at the end of their table. I watched as the younger woman didn’t take her eyes off of her phone … again, surfing, playing games … I don’t know. But I could see the hurt in the older woman’s eyes as she would talk, only to find the words simply hitting the back of the phone. She finally gave up, and her eyes wandered around the room.
Maybe, simply because I’m becoming older, I find myself looking for things, and a life, that’s a bit “more.” More personal, more reflective, more meaningful, more handmade, more heartfelt. I want to spend my time on things that create memories … memories that grow in importance as time passes. Traditions, favorite recipes, laughter, and time together … too often these are replaced with something of a lesser stature.
Maybe that’s why we moved to a farm years ago, and why I want our children to have the experiences of raising chickens, goats and honeybees. I want them to have room to run and explore, to taste that garden-fresh tomato still warm from the vine, and to be a part of canning and freezing fruits and vegetables, so that in January, that peach jam is even more savory than it is now.
We can all create memories worth holding onto … whether we’re living on many acres in the country, or a corner lot in town. We just have to decide what’s important to us. To quote B.F. Skinner, “One fact that I would cry from every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us – here and now.”