Like many guys of my vintage, I grew up believing that a woman's place was in the home, keeping things tidy, cooking the meals, washing the clothes, supporting the husband and always being there for the kids. True, there were a handful of exceptions in our little town. My friend Pete's mom commuted to work full time as a proofreader for the World Book encyclopedia company.
It started with a question from grandson Jack, age 7. "Grandpa, did you ever have a model train?" "An electric one?" "Yeah. The kind that goes round and round on a little track." "I did. But that was a long time ago." "Do you still have it?" "If I do, it's upstairs in the garage. But I haven't seen it in years and years." And then another fateful question: "Can we look?" The train, it turned out, was pretty much junk.
It happens every year, just before Christmas. Having put off the search for gifts until the number of remaining shopping days dips into the single digits, I find myself standing in line surrounded by hundreds of fellow procrastinators. Yuletide Muzak bleats forth from the stores' loudspeakers. The temperature hovers around 90. Trapped in winter clothing, Sorel boots awash with sweat, I clutch the handle of the shopping cart like a castaway clinging to flotsam. Excellent, whimpers my fevered brain. Way to go. Way to plan. Way to execute. Way to suffer.
Over the eons a lot has been written about learning, almost all of it positive. Were it not for our ability to learn, life would probably seem colorless and boring. And as the famous futurist Buckminster Fuller often observed, we can't learn less. This simple fact serves to cheer us on in the aftermath of our various mistakes and misunderstandings. If we are willing to remain reasonably humble, we can view our failures and shortcomings as simple opportunities for learning.
In one of his lesser-known novels, "The Wild Palms," William Faulkner observed that all humans fitted into one of two groups. Some folks go around making messes, he said, while other folks clean them up. While no doubt an oversimplification, Faulkner's observation contains some insight. We all know people who have made (and sometimes continue to make) significant messes in their lives.
Do you ever wonder why we say some of the things we do, or where they came from? This week, smack in the middle of deer season, seems the perfect time to explore the origins of phrases related to our four-legged neighbors. Why, for instance, do we call a dollar a "buck?" Doug Lennox, the Canadian author of "The Little Book of Answers," claims it came as a result of early trade between European immigrants and Indians.
"Everything's changing too fast." "Nothing stays put." "Things are out of control." "I wish I'd been born 100 years ago. Life was better then." How many times have you heard laments like these? How many times have you made them? A hundred? A thousand? More? Ours is an age of uneasiness. We feel assaulted by change, kept off balance by a constant barrage of newness. Given the pace of life today, it's no wonder we dream of calmer, less frenetic times. Sweet yesterday, where even the weather was more predictable.
A few years ago Charles Mann published a book titled "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus," which forever changed our understanding of the past. Readers who plunged into that sprawling book emerged on the far side astonished at how much of what we were taught as children about our history was plumb wrong. Now, having given us some years in which to recover from the shock of discovering that America before Columbus was not a wild and uncared-for land populated by a smattering of benighted savages longing to be introduced to proper work habits, some fun national holidays and
Author's note: The following is a condensation of an article that appeared in Better Forests magazine titled "From Pines to Potatoes." Shawn Perich, a veteran outdoor writer and concerned north country resident, recently focused attention on the changes under way in west-central Minnesota as thousands of acres of woodland are being cleared to make way for growing potatoes. Perich, the editor/publisher of Northern Wilds and a member of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, outlined the concerns of state officials that the conversion, which involves clear-cutting the woods and installing cen
How much is enough? The answer depends, of course, on what you're talking about. All of us would agree that we need a sufficient amount of the basic life support items to keep us upright and able to move about.