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April Values

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This is my time, just as dawn is breaking and both of the men in my life (one fifty, the other three) are still asleep. It’s just me and my warm cup of coffee, in the mug with the fancy cats dancing all around the bend. Today I can finally hear the birds. They’ve dared to return, after what feels like the longest winter we’ve ever had, though I’m sure there are longer on record.

This was a winter of many bills, high-priced heating, and illness. My students and my son have been like tigers in a small cage, cooped up through too many indoor recesses. I want to throw it off and run, not walk, outdoors into the new sun. April has always been my favorite month, but this one is especially welcome.

I’ve been reading Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and enjoying the old words that I’ve always loved so well. It’s been years since I picked up one of her books, but they were always some of my favorites as a little girl. I notice I reread them whenever I get too tangled up with worry. Their talk about hard work and values makes me happy.

I don’t know if it’s nostalgia for my simpler childhood, or just a desire to put aside the clutter and noise and fretful feeling of this modern world, with talk about war and death and disease on every newscast. I suppose if they’d had as much access to information as we do, the old-timers might have been gloomier too. They didn’t have much time (well, farmers didn’t) for anything except hard work and family. They ate so much good food that it makes me full to read of it, but they worked it off every single day with more physical exercise than I do in a year.

Maybe what I need isn’t more leisure, it’s more meaningful work. There’s something about physical work, putting out a tangible product of some kind, whether it’s a painting or a loaf of bread, that’s satisfying in a way like no other. I guess some people consider me naive to think so highly of old values, and I know there were a lot of hard times then too, but there’s just something so appealing about it to me.

If it makes me feel so good to read a simple book in the mornings, when it’s my quiet time, then I should definitely keep doing it. It nurtures my soul, to be new-age about it. Maybe whenever we have a hard day, before reaching for the Xanax we should read about Almanzo’s mother churning butter and making doughnuts. Why not?


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