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The Last Windrow: Looking ahead with optimism

This is the week that all columnists love. It is the week when we can reflect back on the year 2012 and give you our observations, comments and criticisms. This year there are plenty of all of the above for fodder.  

I typically don’t like to look back. As my Grandma Bessie said to me once, “What’s past is past. Look ahead.” I’ve found that to be rather sound advice over time. Perhaps she gathered that attitude as a result of having immigrated to the United States when she was 17 years old, never to return to the “old country,” as she used to call it. She never set eyes on her birth family again, except for the few that also immigrated to this country. What’s past is past. Not much we can do about it.  

Also, being raised on a farm, I learned early on that just because you had a crop failure or a hail-out one year didn’t necessarily mean that you were going to have one in the coming year. You couldn’t just store the planter and decide not to plan for next year’s crop. You had to look ahead and try to be optimistic about it. We all knew that not everything was going to turn out on the “up” side, but we made optimistic plans anyway. Our mental health depended on that way of thinking.  

But, one does learn from the past. We can’t just stick our heads in the sand and ignore what history has taught us. There are lessons to be learned from looking back so as not to repeat the same mistake twice. You didn’t plant corn on ground where history had taught you that it wouldn’t grow. You learned from past experience that it paid to vaccinate your stock. If you got stiffed by a guy who bought your hay, you learned not to sell to him again unless it was cash on the barrel. There were lessons you learned from the past.  

Actually, I shouldn’t even be able to write this column this year because according to the Mayans, the world was supposed to have ended on this very day that I am typing this column. There is nary a cloud in the blue sky this morning, the starlings are singing on the high-line wires and our Black Lab has chased her daily rabbit out from under our bird feeder at dawn. As far as I can detect, the world is still spinning through the universe and those who had stored canned goods to survive the ending of the planet will have something to eat for New Year’s dinner. So much for that kind of looking ahead.  

The past year has had its share of triumphs and tragedies, just like any other year that I have walked this earth. Lately, it seems to me we are heavier on the tragedy side of the scale and I’m hoping the year to come will have a lot less of that. But, we have had triumphs too and we who live here in this great land have plenty of good stuff to look forward too.

Blame that positive feeling on my farm upbringing. The winter will end, spring will come, the new seed will be planted in the earth and a crop will spring forth and a bountiful harvest will come. At the start of the new year, all things remain possible. It is the way I choose to perceive the coming year, 2013. It is good for the positive state of my mental health to think this way.  

Happy New Year!

See you next time. Okay?