Changes Are Taking Place in This Nation
By Doug Harrell
As I sit here thinking about what to write for this month’s Life Lessons the thing that stands out most in my mind is how swift changes are taking place in this nation and our little corner of the world. It is a different world than what I grew up in back in the 1940 and 1950s. It is hard for me to recognize and reckon with the fact that I am now that old (or older generation) and reflection on the past consumes quite a bit of thought time. I still feel very grounded that I am still working in the same fields and on the same hills that I grew up working on as a child and as a young man. But oh how things have changed on the farm as well as in life. I have been in the hayfields every day for the past seven days and as I was working, mowing, raking, and rolling hay I thought back to the days that I mowed with the old mules’ Jack and Jim, the old high wheeled hay rake that I had to struggle to pull the lift to dump the hay and keep it in a good straight line so we could stack it into shocks to be loaded onto the sled. Taking it to the stack was always interesting trying to make sure it did not slide off the old sled, and sometimes it did. I remember spending a day with a pitchfork turning the hay over to dry. We had never even heard of a tedder. I would love to have my Papa Harrell, my grandfather Luther, just see what and how we do it now, he would not believe his eyes!
I say all this to recognize that yes we have better tractors and don’t use the mules, I can do the work that it used to take 5 or 6 men to do and do it much faster. I am not always positive that the difference has been worth the price. I miss the work ethic of the entire community, the pitching in to help each other, and the always being aware that someone had your back. I miss the big lunch meals around the table that were piled high with food that the ladies had prepared, always a feast for sure. The laughter and fun along with the sweat and trying to outwork each other! Imagine that, competing to see who could work the fastest and accomplish the most without slowing down! Yes, times and attitudes have changed.
I miss the Sundays where everyone, or almost everyone, was in church together. We had our weekly Sunday morning bath, I even remember back to when it was in a tub of water in the kitchen and the hot water came from water heated on the old wood stove in the kitchen. We still had the spring house where we would get the water and carry it in.
Why I am writing this I really don’t know except that I miss lots of it! I could no longer work like I did then and it probably looks better looking back than it did when I was in the midst of it all and sweat was pouring off my young body, no shirt on most of the summer. Heaven forbid we get sunburned today. Oh, we are going to have cancer! Times sure were simpler in so many ways back then. I am reminded of the scripture in Joel 2:28 where it is talking about old men dreaming dreams and young men seeing visions and I guess I am in the dreaming stage rather than the vision stage in many ways.
So I guess this life lesson is about valuing the past but also preparing for the future, carrying as much of the good with you as possible as we prepare for a new day and a new way. I just pray that we can always remember that all our search for wisdom should center around searching for the way, the truth, and the light of the world, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is a season for all things and there really is nothing new, just recycled and refurbished a bit. Have a blessed day.
Doug Harrell is a life-long resident of Mitchell County, Owner of Harrell Hill Farms, a member of Bear Creek Baptist Church, and former publisher of Blue Ridge Christian News. You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/doug.harrell.77
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