Addicted to the Easy Life

I have to confess: I’m addicted to the easy life. Let me explain….

A person who had a big influence on me was my maternal grandmother. My grandfathers both died before I was born, and my dad’s mom died when I was four.

My mother’s mother, “Mam-ma” as I called her, left her farm to come to the city to help take care of me when I was very young since my mom worked outside of the home, which was much more uncommon than today. I deeply loved my Mam-ma.

My most enjoyable times from childhood were spending summers at her farm. She had me helping her with work on her farm. As an elementary age kid she had me assisting her to cut up a tree that came down using a two-man-saw. She was a woman, and I was a boy, but that didn’t keep us from using a device designed for two men. I would struggle to pull the saw towards me, and Mam-ma would forcefully pull it back towards her. We kept this up until the job was done. I’m not sure if I could find two men today who would use such a device. A chainsaw would be much faster and less strenuous.

My grandmother taught me to use an old fashioned sickle to cut high grass. It had two handles, and you sway back and forth to cut grass. Perhaps the Amish still use them.

My first introduction to an outhouse was at my grandmother’s. It was a two seater! In the summer you had watch out for snakes and wasp nests when you’d use it.

To wash clothes my grandmother would boil water and pour it into a large tub and with a washboard she would do the laundry. After I married I was showing the old house to my wife. She wanted to know where the washing machine was. Having been born in 1897, my grandmother was dead, but I pointed to the tub and wash board. The metal clothesline, that ran from the end of the barn to the outhouse, was the dryer.

My grandmother didn’t drive. For groceries we’d walk into town, about a mile and a half away, and shop at the Madison General Store. We’d ride home in the delivery truck with the groceries.

Could I live that way now? I could. But I’m not sure if I’d want to, at least not completely. I’m addicted to the easy life. But some of my happiest memories are from being with my grandmother. No television. Only a radio, which my grandmother would turn on to hear the news. The only way to communicate was a telephone, what today is called a landline. It was a party line shared by about four families. My grandmother’s number would ring four short rings.

But the downside of this addiction is the temptation to compromise. Going along with the crowd, rather than standing up for your beliefs. Perhaps an occasional “fast” from the modern life of ease would be beneficial.

Let’s give it a try, at least partly. That way we’ll know by experience we can do without some modern conveniences and be will to better face difficult times that may come.

Ashton C. Smith

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