Home is so Sad?
Yesterday, in a roundabout way, we learned from Philip Larkin that "Home is so Sad," but he was speaking of an empty home, which "stays as it was left, / Shaped to the comfort of the last to go / As if to win them back," whereas my family and I will be returning, in precisely one month, to a full, Ozark home for my children's first visit to the States.
Among other experiences -- such as hiking up knobs, descending into caverns, circumabulating my little town -- I want them to visit a farm or two to learn a bit about my childhood, partly spent on farms.
In that vein, I'll share an early morning email from my Uncle Cranford Hodges, providing today's farm report in real time. First, the weather:
After some cold days, it is back up near 60 [= 15.5 degrees centigrade] this morning. There is a chance of rain, which would help our ponds, but there is also a chance of stormy weather, which we always dread.Sixty degrees fahrenheit is quite mild for early January, but it often presages stormy, even violent weather, possibly tornadoes, so I'd rather hear of temperatures around freezing, but if the winter stays mild and without storms, then February should be fine for our Ozark trip.
Next, the health report:
Everything is about the same here. Everyone seems to be on an even keel for the moment, and no colds or flu so far. I had a little time, so our woodpile has been replenished and should do us until sometime in February. My old body doesn't want to exert itself so much any more, so I try to keep about four weeks ahead.Cranford must be near 70, for he was born a couple of years later than my father, who was 20 years older than I, and I'm 50. A youthful 50. Or maybe just immature. I hope that in about 20 years, I'll still be physically able to chop and stack firewood. Not that I want to actually be doing that, merely that I'd like to be able to.
It was hard work...
I remember woodpiles and putting up ricks of wood for winter, often having to replenish a rick midway through a cold winter. Just thinking of that, I can almost smell the freshly split pieces, which we would stack under the eastern eave of our old rock-walled house to shelter them from westwind-driven winter storms and thereby keep them dry for the woodstove. I can even now feel those cold winter mornings, with me getting out of bed to watch Grandpa Perryman take a poker and punch up the embers to get a new fire going to warm the house.
Enough nostalgia. Back to the future. Uncle Cranford reports on his old tractor, which the kids will love to see, maybe take a ride on:
I had to get some things done on my diesel tractor. New fuel line, fuel pump, filters, power steering, lube job, a new alternator, oil drips sealed, and a tank heater mounted to heat the water. It should make it a lot easier to start on cold mornings. Until now I had to put a heater blowing over the engine, and a magnetic heater to heat the oil. That took over an hour and the tank heater should do a better job.This reminds me of the philosophical problem of identity. If you gradually replace every part of some object over a period of time, do you still have the same object that you started with? Is Uncle Cranford's tractor still the same tractor, or is its identity slowly changing? Perhaps my uncle merely thinks that his old tractor is now easier to start on cold mornings. Possibly, however, he's starting up a different tractor. I may need my cyber-buddy and maverick philosopher Bill Vallicella for insight into this one.
But that can wait, for the next detail in the farm report is always of pressing importance:
The cows are doing ok.That's good to hear, but what about the pigs and the chickens? Don't laugh! These are important questions . . . like checking to see if one's stocks are up or down. It's serious stuff, despite the lyrics to Jollity Farm...
Uncle Cranford's work includes more than labor on his farm, for he also does some carpentry, or used to (along with some preaching), so I'm assuming that he's referring to that line of work in his allusion to "projects":
I still have a few work projects, then maybe some time off to do some things at home.News on two of my cousins:
Matthew & James are both in their new assignments, so we keep them in our prayers.They serve in the military, and their new assignments happen to be Iraq, which isn't as dangerous as it was for a while, but which is still no picnic, as Andrew Olmsted, who used to blog about the war there, now reminds us from the great beyond.
Spare a thought for him...
News on Kevin, the brother of Matthew and James:
Kevin is doing some job interviews, and we pray for wisdom on what he should do. All the offers so far require a relocation to another state. The slowdown in housing caused his previous employer to have a big layoff.The slowdown that Uncle Cranford is referring to would be due to the subprime crisis, about whose effects I have previously blogged.
Finally, the signoff:
We hope this finds everyone being in good health.Same to you and yours, Uncle Cranford. As for me, I'm feeling somewhat better than yesterday (no thanks to Mr. Larkin), though still not perfect, but well enough to face today's editing, the galley proofs of a tome on Northeast Asia and the Two Koreas: Metastability, Security, and Community, a book of articles to which I have contributed by having co-authored one article with Myongsob Kim, having translated another scholar's article from French into English, and having proofread all of the articles numerous times. I hope that I'm up to it again this cold morning. Maybe I need one of my uncle's magnetic heaters to help start up my brain...
Anyway, there it is, a report from home, which is also where I want to be...