Our Grit Editor in Chief shares family memories and stories of finding harmony in marriage.
My father was so mild-mannered, when I think of family memories I remember I heard him swear only twice in my life. However, when he and Mom took the boat to the lake, he proved that a man can express substantial levels of irritation without uttering a coarse word.
As they tried to guide the boat down the boat ramp — she behind the wheel and he directing — Daddy’s smooth temperament took a turn. “Turn it to the left . . . No, no . . . your OTHER left . . . Dag-nabbit, Dorothy, left!” My sisters and I would rock on our haunches by the boat ramp, choking back the giggles that might turn Daddy’s annoyance our direction. Sometimes they’d swap, and she would try to guide him down the ramp instead. This usually resulted in even more dag-nabbing and zigzagging until finally, the boat was in the lake and the fishing could begin.
Several years ago, I attended a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman weekend camp, featuring workshops on such topics as shooting, fishing and how to sharpen a knife. The most ferocious competition was in the “How to Back Up a Trailer” workshop. One woman, Rita, said she believed she could save her marriage if she could master that one skill, so I gave her my spot. (I was not being completely magnanimous: I was itching for a rematch with the trout that had gotten away in the morning’s fly-fishing workshop.)
As Rita’s experience and my mom’s testify, many a marriage has been driven perilously close to divorce’s rocky shoals by the challenge of backing a trailer. In Oscar Will’s article about trailer basics (see page 40 in this issue), we offer directions for this important skill — Grit’s version of the Marriage Protection Act.
You’ll find our version of the Child Protection Act in this issue, too: Those of us who grew up in small towns and on farms have a hard time imagining the nature-deprived life many urban and suburban children now live. Small wonder they’re a little wriggly and out of control. Linda Shockley’s interview with Richard Louv, author of the best-selling Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, will open your eyes to a destructive but easily remedied cultural malady — a cure Grit readers live every day.
I know it’s not polite to toot your own horn, but I just love this issue of Grit. It’s full of great gift ideas for your favorite farmer and farm child, a thoughtful discussion about what it takes to be a good neighbor, recipes that will make you say, “Mmmmmm,” and some practical information about where to stow all that stuff that accumulates on any country place. Send us a note at Letters @ Grit.com and let us know of other story ideas you’d like to see.
— K.C. Compton
P.S. The trout won the rematch, too.