Toughness

summer heat

I spent some time today in the seat of my John Deere, mowing pasture that has been mowed twice and will likely be mowed again before the end of August.  It is hot, dusty work, but I like seat-time because it is think time.  Not worrisome thoughts, just mental meandering through the uncut meadows of my mind.

Today I did some thinking about the heat.  Specifically summer in Alabama.  Not for the faint of heart.

The weather apps I have on my phone and the television weather people advise that it will be 92 degrees at two o’clock but it will actually feel like 105 degrees.

Well thanks for that.  Blesses my heart to know that I should be feeling hotter than I already do.

My thoughts turned to the last few weeks.  I spent my days teaching some young folk a little about forestry and logging.  They are “millennial” or “Gen Xers” or “Gen whatevers.”  I can’t keep up with all the classifications.  I could Google it, but it doesn’t interest me enough to bother with a few key-strokes to even do that.

I thought they were a bit whiny.  Actually, a lot whiny.

“It’s too hot out here.”

“You walk too fast.”

“Can we stop at the store?”

I rather liked that.  I am tough.  They are weak.  Can’t keep pace with the old man.

My generation’s view of the next.  Spoiled.  Can’t take it.  The “I got a trophy for showing  up” generation.  Comes out quickly in the Alabama sun.

The tractor and my mind turn down a new trail.  It’s old ground, but sometimes my thoughts need to cover old ground to be put right.

My daddy worked outside most of his life.  The cars and pick-up trucks he drove never had air conditioning.  So far as I know, he bought the first air conditioner he owned when I was about five, a “window unit” that we ran until bedtime.  Electricity cost money, and we didn’t have an abundance of that.

His daddy was a carpenter who worked outside all of his life.  Had a house with high ceilings and a floor fan with blades roughly the size of a Cessna propeller.

His daddy had no electricity because it hadn’t made it to the country.  High ceilings, shade trees and rain the only respite.

His daddy had nothing.  I have a list of his net worth when he applied for his Confederate pension at age 69.  It included 40 acres, one log cabin, four hogs, a clock, household furniture, and a few farming tools.  Total value $130.  Maybe some shade in the yard.  Hopefully a cool water creek on that 40 or at least not too far away.

Toughness is relative, by summertime heat or any other gauge by which we use to measure.

Supposed to be hot again tomorrow, but I don’t feel so tough tonight.

9 thoughts on “Toughness

  1. Stirring stuff, thanks for putting quill to virtual paper. This Toughness question is a global challenge.

    I know Im not as tough as my grandfather who farmed by his fingernails, for peanuts mostly, nor the teens today as tough as me, or perhaps I delude myself. But when we take people off the land we remove access to all kinds of rights of passage available for us in our youth.

    The forest provides a location for the best rights of passage, and globally forests are possibly the common location for all kinds of growing up. The ocean, second, but far from most of us.

    I think largely, our youth feel frustrated at their own uselessness, because they, don’t get to hunt, trap, fell tres, slice fingers on a jackknife, or burn fingers, tossing something into the campfire…. and thus become more practical and able. It is not a kindness to keep someone 100% safe… else the first sharp thing they touch is keenly edged paper…

    I worked for 5 years building forest based internships for young students, there is nothing as rewarding. If this making youths into forest people were a global aim, we could take the world to better days. I am sure.

    How do we turn this supertanker of urbanised hopelessness around I wonder…? I only have the question I am afraid…not an answer. It is a tough one. Perhaps there is no more important question to ponder.

    1. I don’t know the answers, James. As things become more and more urbanized, I find a total disconnect between the land and the end products. Even the “adults” in small Alabama towns can’t make the connection.

      What frightens me even more is that young people must go to war. I think we were blessed in WWII that are troops were largely comprised of rural boys who grew up on farms and knew how to shoot guns. They knew something about hardship. Today? Not so much.

      I have to admit that I’m afraid as well.

  2. Interesting that you know so much about previous generations. I know back to my great-granddad on my mother’s side, and only to my grandparents on my father’s side. Georgia Crackers all.

    Enjoy the summer, heat and all. And thanks for the update.

    1. I know more than I did a few months ago due to Ancestry.com. The Redhead is very good with piecing the puzzle together.

      Her latest hobby is helping others find their kin. Her record so far is some guy in California. Less than 24 hours and she found his birth parents.

  3. Love, Love, Love your stories! Well written with humour, history and you are leaving a bit of yourself for your children! What a gift!

  4. Toughness indeed is all relative. In the past 48 hours I’ve learned a high school classmate of mine perished with her husband while on an isolated wilderness trek in Alaska, in our nations largest National Park. Just the two of them, alone. Their bodies were recovered this morning after they were swept downstream in a glacial river over 12 days ago. They survived the water. That’s toughness. But succumbed to exposure after they climbed out of their 7 mile horrific ride. I tell this story because she was a Conservationist in Forest and Land Management. She knew the toughness of these two elements together and it was they that claimed her life. A tough and seasoned outdoorswomen. This ones for you Rochelle.

      1. Thank you Ray for your kind words.

        I’m pleased to see you back to your Blog as it’s always a pleasure to “listen” to your life.

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