Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My background is pretty rustic. My brother is in front of the two room log house we lived in. Behind it, is a clapboard building my father dragged on to the property with horses and a dray to house hunters in the winter. It contained four home-made bunks, a table, and a wood stove. We lived entirely off the land and hunters brought in extra money. We had no indoor plumbing and, at first, no electricity, either.
When I first moved to California, someone invited me to go camping. I wasn't interested. I LIVED that way. A wood fire holds no romance for one such as me because I disliked stacking wood, the dirt, the chips from my father's axe that I had to pick up by the wagon load for kindling. Typical kid complaints while we took for granted the whole outdoors and bountiful nature at our feet.
With my recent visit from my old neighbors, I'm reminded of the wonderful things about living poor. I'm grounded, hard working, practical, a conservationist. (That is the word we used before environmentalist became common.) And, it surprised me that the years could wash away and we could reconnect and feel that we had a lot in common even though Bernice and Marie, each became the wife of farmers, had no higher education, and remained in the same, small community of Hardwood, Mi.
Pat, on the other hand, moved to Indiana and worked in the "big city." None of us attended college and all of us consider ourselves "successful", whatever that means. Let us say, we are no longer poor.
I believe we reconnected so easily because we share the same values. Hard work, the importance of family, self sufficiency, and consistency, come to mind. We share attitudes of stick-to-it, never give up, help yourself and above all, be a good neighbor. There was an-I can do anything anyone else can d0-attitude at our house. I feel so fortunate that my folks drilled those values home. As a consequence, we were rich in friends and self satisfaction. I believe I've retained those values today and they have held me in good stead.
The biggest difference, as it turns out, is I have good health insurance and have retired. Pat, the city worker, the same. Farmers typically do not have health insurance, and that difference is enormous for Bernice, whose husband died of a long catastrophic illness. She now works, at age 71, in an Indian Casino to pay for her deceased husband's medical bills that were enormous. Marie, too, a widow, has a low social security income and no medical insurance. She is 78 and typical of the type of salt-of-the-earth, hard working person who needs affordable health insurance. Well, enough said.
I actually meant to blog today about the National Parks, another "camping" venue, but I got carried away with nostalgia. Maybe tomorrow.

1 comment:

squawmama said...

Hi Mary, Great article today I really enjoyed reading it.... Have fun & Travel Safe