I never lived on a farm. I did live among farms. Some of the farmers hired me
when I was a teenager to feed the pigs, bale hay, drive a tractor and shell corn. One drove his cattle to market in the kind of trailer you have seen on the highway. It was full of cattle doing things that cattle do. I shoveled it out after the sadly empty trailer returned sans steer.
Every year during my precocious teens, I went out to the soybean fields. My name is Tim and I carried a hoe ( given the way the word ho, hoe is used today let me explain). A hoe was a long handled, 5-6 foot piece of wood, with a 2 1/2 ” diameter, to which was attached, at right angle, a sharpened piece of steel. So it has been established that I was carrying that kind of hoe– not any other kind.
I marched forth because the soybeans were under attack. You Tofu eaters should sing my praises. Riding, well… walking, forth each day, I was a knight of the soybean table— my lance a hoe. I, Don Quix…., no Tim, the hoe-wielding soybean warrior, went to slash pigweed and smart weed and other noxious weeds that were supplanting the bean, and depriving mankind, of the 719,711,717 products all derived from the noble soybean. That’s me — St. Soybean.
Now, these soybean fields were big — over a hundred acres. When I walked one direction, I strolled the slight downhill rows. But when I came back the same hills were climbed as cruel inclines. At the end of the day it was uphill in both directions.
Most of the land was as flat and black as fresh-laid asphalt. The top of the hills was much lighter than the rest of the field, gradiating to a top of pasty gray. The hilltop topsoil was thinner than the rest of the field. The soybeans were dense & green, for the most part, but sparse and yellow at the top.
Wind and rain eroded the hills.
Erosion has taken its toll on the hills of my life. Life bumps into me at those knolls. Hills appear, interestingly, at both my strongest and weakest points. Rain flushes away and wind scatters the precious soil. The topsoil grows thin and the, newly, graying soil just isn’t what it used to be.
It is not surprising that life attacks where we are weakest. For instance, we don’t make decisions well so the wind blows there. We don’t evaluate our options. The wrong choice is made– consequences occur– a price, often very steep, is paid. Top soil erodes and productivity diminishes.
Now, let’s suppose our strength is making friends very easily. We have lots of top soil here. No problems? Well, yes we do, since life wears us down at our strongest and weakest points. It works this way. Having many friends is exhilarating. We accumulate them like precious coins.
Careful. Friends take time. Productivity declines.
Having friends is intoxicating. The wind blows. The soil scatters. It is difficult to drive a straight course when inebriated by your own popularity. The richest vein of topsoil in you thins.
And, responsibility is required in any friendship. It is easy to take advantage of friends– especially when your chemistry with them focuses on your gain. Money– easy to pick a friend’s pocket. Morality— easiest to choose a wrong path with a friend. A friendship can become one-sided— all about you.
It’s great to be able to develop friendships. That gift left unstewarded, will erode who you are and, left unbridled, will leave you, ironically, friendless.
I hesitate to say, “Now, that I am old.”.
The reply, “You are not old,” causes me to wonder, “How many other ways do you lie to me?”
When I say, “Now, that I am old,” and there is no reply, the silence suggests you agree. I don’t particularly like that. Perhaps, I should stop saying, “Now, that I am old.”
One more time, now that I am old, I take fearful and hesitant looks at the field of my life. The snapshot gives instant feedback. There is so much gray. So much erosion. There has been, planting, cultivation and harvest. Weeds have been hoed. Missed some.
But there is so much gray. So much of me is gone.
All sorts of room for moralizing here and I, certainly, love to do that, but …….
Be noble, gracious and responsible where you are strong.
Get help and improve where you are weak.
Then— when you are old, there will be less gray.