My Morning Do . . . Down on the Farm — IV

A Snowy Nostalgia

by tkbrown

20 February 2021 — Growing up in the Ozarks, I was so blessed to experience four distinctive seasons each year. The snows blanketing our country during the past two weeks brought back memories. Just prior to the onset of winter storms Uri and Viola, one of my siblings and I were talking about the winters of our youth bringing much more snow than we have seen in recent decades. We were a bit nostalgic about the memories associated with those snows–at times they were two feet deep or more with drifts three to four feet deep. One Christmas Eve, an older sibling drove in from another state and parked their Volkswagen in front of the house. The next morning, there was just a big hump in the front yard–no visible evidence of the car buried beneath all that snow.

Winter brought with it the excitement of holidays, snows and ice coated trees which I thought were absolutely beautiful with the sun shining through them early in the morning. Riding the bus to school, I often commented on how much I loved seeing that aspect of winter. Other bus riders could not see what I saw. I suppose, in their minds it was too early in the morning and they were still snug in bed and fast asleep. They wanted no part of my icy reveries which threatened to eject them from their warm ones.

On days when conditions were too dangerous for the busses to risk the drive to school, and on weekends, etc., I could enjoy the evidence of Jack Frost’s visit during the night. The etchings on our windows boasted designs far more intricate than most paintings. The beauty of winter escaped many, but I never missed a beat of its cold heart. I loved looking out the windows to see God’s handiwork. Even having to carry in wood and coping with one side of me getting too toasty as it faced the old wood heater while the other side froze could not diminish its value in my heart. To me, even during the season others viewed as representing death in life’s cycle, nature’s beauty surpassed any ugliness that came with it.

My heart goes out to those who suffered hardship and loss during the past couple of weeks. I understand the blessings of modern technologies have allowed many of us to advance beyond the primitive realities associated with the wood heating of my childhood. However, news of the suffering many endured due to the overwhelming frigidness of the temperatures and accompanying snows brought back memories of always being able to stoke a fire in that old wood heater or turn-on the gas heater and kitchen range even as the electricity failed us. Living on the coast and enduring a number of hurricanes, I loved being able to cook a pot of beans and rice or cornbread on that gas range for us to eat until. We never missed a hot meal during a power outage. That is one part of having less than others I have never regretted.

As the days of my childhood grew warmer and steadily longer, springtime dropped in for a visit. When the dogwoods and redbuds began to bloom, I knew spring would soon be in the air. Our springs were long enough to truly enjoy the rebirth of life associated with the cool days of fragrant, variegated greens and yellow greens. The fresh bursts of color in both nature and homestead, and the planting of seeds–as the days grew warmer–from which we would enjoy the produce over the coming year. These were fertile reminders of life budding anew. Springtime in the Ozarks is a rebirth of every aspect of living.

As school let out, days were becoming hotter and longer. Soon, summertime was in full swing. The heat–sometimes blazing heat–in luscious green surroundings seemed to embrace me with appreciation for the growing and reaping to be done. The mouth-waterin’ vegetables, fruits, and berries we harvested each year were my favorite part of livin’ off the soil. I looked forward to the watermelons, the peaches, and other produce peddled to locals by other locals because these were never locally grown in sufficient quantity. The annual hog-killin’ in late July or early August with the fresh tenderloin to follow at breakfast the next morning was usually assisted by cousins from other states. Afterward, we would all gather ’round to enjoy a feast of fresh pork and fresh vegetables from the garden. If we were lucky, the activities of this day coincided with the peach purchase mentioned above, thus prompting a bowl of peaches ‘n cream for dessert. Summertime food was always so delicious. To this day, I love the abundance of produce available during spring, summer, and fall. UUMmMmmmmm!

Fall in the Ozarks blanketed the area with bursts of color on every hillside–red, yellow, orange, and crimson mingled with green and brown–with the cedars etching a bit of evergreen and each frost increasing the browns. Vegetables that had not been harvested from the garden were brought in, preserved, and stored for winter. The Halloween Carnivals (now Fall Festivals) and Thanksgiving only added to the excitement and anticipation of Christmas ahead.

Now, we cannot forget the annual harvest celebration in a neighboring county. As we grew a little older, we could most always see a slew of people we knew at the Hootin’ ‘n Hollerin’ celebration. The Hog Callin’ contest was the most sought after prize of the day. Usually, this prize was taken by a woman ’cause she had looootts o’ practice from callin’ her husband in for supper every night.

When I was young (early childhood–preschool age), the fall also boasted an Annual Pie Supper to benefit the school. I was too young to participate, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching older sisters baking pies to be auctioned off and eaten with the highest bidder. Some of those pies were well-known and sought after–bringin’ a right-good price to compliment and redden the face of some young lass.

Then there was the Annual Talent Show. Local talent turned out in droves to assist in raisin’ funds for our school. As I mentioned above, I was too young for the Pie Supper, but Mama and Daddy were sure to sign me up for the Talent Show. I began singing at the tender age of three. The Pie Suppers and Talent Shows fell by the wayside by the time I reached school age, but I remember the fun they provided all who participated. All of the excitement added to the bliss of those fall days, which were cooler and reminded me of the holidays and winter wonderlands yet to come.

I look back on my growing-up years, and although there were bad times, I do not remember too many of them. I always felt blessed somehow to be a part of all my surroundings–family, neighbors, friends, and nature. I learned so very much from all that I experienced. You just had to be there and see it through my eyes to understand the level of nostalgia felt at times when engrossed in reminiscing those days of yore.

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Photo at the Top: by MikeGoad @pixabay.com.

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Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

a quindecim triad
~~ by tkbrown ~~
As Thanksgiving Day approaches our minds reflect
upon those things for which we can be thankful.
This year, in particular, as we attempt to deflect
some of the year's more unpleasant, distasteful
aspects recently passed, perhaps our thought
might linger on those very things we would rather
forget. The coronavirus, for instance, has wrought
havoc on the entire world, and still it grows . . . stronger.
Many have lost loved ones as it ravaged our homes,
our lives, our nations, our world. Has it beleaguered
our universe too? Our losses seem greater in domes
fabricated by the quarantines and other featured
components of our lives. Can we see--e'en for a moment
that we are blessed to be alive and able to ruminate
and to formulate gratitude in the losses we repudiate.

E'en through the unpleasant times and events
occurring throughout the year, our world has paused
to focus upon giving medical care in hospital tents
erected by the armed forces, necessitated and caused
by a desire to save lives. In countries large and small,
pharmaceutical teams have hovered over petri dishes,
laboring hours upon end, striving to answer the call
for vaccine and treatment options to grant wishes
and supply clinical trials. The scientific world
pulls together, competing to be the frontrunner
in this race with death after being hurled
headfirst into a wall toward which time's gunner
attempts to take away more precious lives.
Children are losing parents, and husbands are losing wives,
hospitals are losing the battle in which each strives.

As we approach this special Day of Thanksgiving,
I implore the world to join with us in prayer--
bowed heads and humble hearts of the living.
While we collectively ask for strength to care
about the needs of those who are hurting,
and join together in prayers of uplifting praise,
offering thanks for the resources relieving
limitations on production, mending the frays
of education, entertainment, and self-care.
Technology, far more advanced than ever before,
has opened doors and built bridges o'er
land and sea to bring a hurting world together.
Let us bow our heads in a world-wide prayer
thanking God for bringing us together
and for the support we receive from each other.

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Photo Above: by Tom Barret @ Unsplash.com.

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My Morning Do . . . Grief and Proactivity

~~ by tkbrown

26 September 2020 — As I mentioned in my previous post, depression associated with grieving is a normal reaction to loss. There are myriad possibilities as to what the loss may be, and one will be dealt with a bit differently from another. If addressed proactively as the grieving process progresses, oftentimes serious depression can be avoided. However, if one does begin finding it difficult to engage normal daily living activities, it may be necessary to schedule a few days to work on specific areas of concern. This can be accomplished alone or with the help of a person who has already proven to be a trustworthy support person in the grieving process.

Depression slows one down during the grieving to aid the introspective work necessary to move past it and into some level of acceptance. Taking some time for inner exploration will speed the path to recovery. There are ways to address the depression on your own, without any outside help if these activities are begun before recognizable impairment develops.

One way to move into and through depressive thoughts is to journal. Set aside a time each day to record thoughts in a composition notebook. Sitting in a quiet place, away from any possible interruptions, begin writing–whatever you are thinking at the time. If what you write does not make sense, this is ok.

The purpose of this portion of the journaling activity is to see the organization of your thoughts. Try not to miss any words — stream of thought is important. Write quickly; slow transcription of thought to paper can cause thoughts to wander due to distraction which causes inaccurate reflection. Recording of thoughts should continue for five to ten minutes. Set a timer or an alarm so concerns about the time do not interrupt the flow of thought.

When time has elapsed, take five minutes to free your mind. Then, read over what has been written. Try to note any patterns or specific lines of thought. Note topics and related concerns on a clean sheet of paper. Then take fifteen minutes to write about worries–concerns noted since your last journaling exercise. Elaborate a bit on each. Discuss specific thoughts noted to be interrupting normal activity.

Now, list some enjoyable activities. Hobbies of a creative nature are often helpful in overcome disruptive depression. If drawing or painting are enjoyable options, express feelings in the art. Draw or paint feelings onto paper or canvas. There are no right or wrong approaches. Just draw, sketch, or paint using charcoal, coloring pencils, pastels, or paints as mediums.

Other creative activities to consider include writing (i.e., poetry or prose), needlecrafts such as sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitch. Cooking, (i.e., making breads–rolls, loaf breads, even cookies) anything that allows complete distraction from the loss. These activities will assist the process of moving through the depression to beginning life again after the loss. Acceptance involves learning to live with the loss. Fill time, previously engaged by the loss, with activities and people you enjoy.

As enjoyable activities continue, begin taking ten or fifteen minutes of daily journaling time to discuss the previous day’s activities. Describe your perceptions of the creative activities and endeavors being pursued. Write anything coming to mind. The goal is to slowly notice movement back into a normal activity level.

The loss will always be a part of the person you become. As you remember positive aspects previously brought to life by the loss, begin to focus on ways related memories are transitioning into strengths and creating the “you of tomorrow.” Proactive approaches, such as journaling and conscious activation of hobbies can be very helpful to resuming normal daily living.

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My Morning Do . . . “Loss and Grieving”

~~ by tkbrown

18 September 2020 — The loss being felt by every person in America is unmistakable, but indescribable. The amount of economic security that existed, for the most part, prior to the onset of coronavirus was more than ever known. A mental review of our nation’s good times–and bad– show an economy never so fully engaged with the world. Now, the trust linking countries and economies has been severed in many cases. Some–stronger–are weathering the storm, but so much worse for the wear. This loss is not limited to that of individuals within the country. This loss is of the country. Our nation is hurting right along with every citizen, resident, and alien. We are not alone in this loss. Every nation in the world is reeling with us.

The sheer number of deaths in the six months since the pandemic struck American soil are unprecedented. For many, there has been no time to truly grieve for want of trying to survive. Those in the health professions have been too busy trying to save lives to properly grieve losses in their private lives. The illness is so insurmountable, neither individuals suffering from the virus nor those caring for them have been spared the trauma of long-term suffering. Post traumatic stress disorder is a given for many of the survivors and for their caregivers.

Here in America, a “lockdown” perse could not be implemented. Such is the cost of freedom. Most other countries do not enjoy “freedom” to the extent Americans do. Our constitution engenders the right to refuse such imprisonment, and our citizens did just that. The consequence of that refusal has been the insurmountable death toll we are seeing because that refusal brought with it a spread of the virus not seen in other countries where true lockdowns could be enforced. Our government has told its citizens, “you are free to choose; so, you have the responsibility to choose wisely or suffer the undesirable consequences that accompany poor decision making”. The whole country has this freedom, and much of the country did not choose wisely.

The losses associated with preventive efforts, such as self-quarantine, has been the closing of many thriving businesses. Even with efforts to minimize the impact, the individual lives scarred by sacrificing all will never be the same. Jobs, businesses, schooling, production, productivity as a whole has been limited to such a degree it may take years to overcome the setback.

No one saw it coming. No one had a plan because there was no guidebook. Nothing outlined before even came close to including all losses being experienced today. It is a “one step at a time” endeavor. We have made mistakes, but much has been done right too. For every choice, there is a consequence. When we do not know what the consequence will be for a particular action, we make regrettable mistakes. However, we do not have the time to moan and groan over those mistakes, and we do not have time to point fingers regarding mistakes. No one is immune; everyone has made mistakes.

The blame game wastes precious time. It is a form of denial regarding the true severity of the situation. Our citizenry must stop the infighting and admit the feelings associated with the losses without hurting self or others. The anger being expressed in the violence and rioting must stop. It is hurting innocent people, and it is hurting those inflicting the harm.

These societal losses are experiencing the same stages of grieving seen in individual loss, but on a much larger scale. The anger is a symptom of being ready to address the underlying feelings. So, it is time to begin communicating those underlying feelings. To do this, it is necessary to understand the stages associated with grief. Our society, as we knew it, has died–worldwide–and it is left to us to pick up the pieces, one at a time.

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Photo Above: by Dylan Nolte @Unsplash.com.

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Source: Kubler-Ross, M.D. and D Kessler. (August 2014). “On grief & grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss.” Scribner. New York. (16 September 2020).

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