Thursday, April 01, 2010
Sun Up Through the Trees
What a wonderful trip to the Tobacco Life Museum yesterday! The weather couldn't have been better, the education - illuminating, the guests wonderful and fun-loving, and the tour of a working tobacco farm was incredibly educational for the horticulture students who joined the group.
Though so many North Carolinians grew up on working tobacco farms, the Museum and the discussions at the farm itself gave everyone those stories we rarely hear:the background and history of tobacco, the incredibly hard work and multiple steps and practices needed for a successful crop, Federal and State regulations, equipment needed and their costs, maintenance, repair, crop management, worker issues, weather, insects, crop disease, the day-to-day operational aspects that even growing up in this field one rarely sees in their entirety.
Layered on all of the work and concerns for a cash crop, were still those aspects of everyday living -- food, shelter, illness, health -- that also had to be considered. The Museum tour included some of the buildings that were used during tobacco's prime - including a one-room schoolhouse, two-room cabin, and the furnishings of the time - wardrobes, quilts, butter churns, and the like. We made our own candles and butter - and simply the amount of time and physical effort to render such small necessities was eye-opening.
For our students, starting a tobacco crop in the greenhouses on floating beds, the need for 'overhead' mowers, the cost of heat and the importance of record-keeping and labor - all lessons that each of us took back with us. A really educational time!
So -- sun-up - the dawn of a new day, new times, conveniences we take for granted -- electric lights, heating and air conditioning, store-purchased food and clothing, various choices for earning a living. Perhaps the cost of these modern conveniences is somewhat different than what it took years ago to raise a family, provide a living, food and shelter - but all of it exacts a cost.
For me, this morning, as I sip my electrically-brewed coffee, in a temperature-maintained home, using technology that allows me to correspond with friends across thousands of miles - I am grateful for every one of those conveniences! And I acknowledge the hard work that went into making all of them possible.
So today, when temperatures warm to the 80sF, I will physically use my rake and hoe to bring my own garden and summer produce to life, and know that though my crop may be different, I will be practicing the ancient art of providing for those we love.
The dawning of a spring morning -- see you in the garden....