Saturday, June 6, 2009

Food for Thought

Typically, this blog is only about food, but my tag line is "Thoughts about food and food for thought" so just consider this post the latter.

On Sunday, I saw this post about ...plowed fields and lessons... over at Robin's photoblog "One Still Frame". It reminded me of a similar lesson I learned from my grandfather.

Growing up, the highlight of my summer vacation was getting to spend as much time as I could on my grandparents farm in North Carolina. Sure most people wanted to head to DisneyWorld in nearby Orlando, but I loved being on that farm, playing in the fields and exploring the barns and pack houses. They grew tobacco, soy beans, corn, and then all of their own vegetables. What we ate for dinner, we usually had picked that morning. Can't get much fresher than that.

My grandfather taught me how to plow in a straight line, by first having me plow one or part of one on my own. I carefully tried to steer the tractor, keeping a close eye on the front wheels and struggling to keep them in a straight line. I was meticulous. If I thought the front wheels were even slightly veering one way, I'd adjust back to the other side. I thought I did a good job until I looked behind me and saw a squiggly swerving line.

Then my grandfather had me try again, but this time, he told me to focus not on where I was, but where I was going to be. He told me NOT to be staring down at the front wheels and the ground below. He had me pick a tree on the opposite side of the field and told me to use THAT as my guide instead. Look at THAT tree and drive straight towards it. I did it his way and sure enough, I left a straight line behind me.

When vacation was over that year and I was back in Florida, I practiced this when mowing the lawn. I'd pick a spot before me in the distance, a fence, a bush, whatever and laid straight lines. Everytime I did it, it reminded me of that particular day with Grandpa.

Much later in life, I realized that my grandfather wasn't just teaching me how to plow a straight line that day. He was also giving me a life lesson about keeping an appropriate focus on life. He was teaching me it isn't where I am right this second that is important, rather, it is where I am going that matters. He was teaching me about keeping my eyes on the prize, so to speak.

I'm 41 now. Oneil (grandfather) has been gone for some 20+ years. The farm has been sold long ago. I haven't stepped foot on a farm in forever. Trevor (9 y/o) carries Oneil's name. I hope that I can teach him how to "plow straight lines" one day as well as my grandfather taught me.