As we all know, there has been a plethora of criticism of our new president.
Among the most unusual complaints is syndicated columnist Garrison Keillor’s observation that President Donald Trump would be a better human being if he’d ever held a hoe in his hands.
“My feeling about Trumpism is that it demonstrates the value of hoeing and weeding in human development,” Keillor wrote.
“Lawn-mowing, vacuuming and laundry are very important, too, but digging in dirt is basic to civilization. The children of privilege who missed out on that chore are incomplete human beings,” he added.
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“I remember the long rows of corn extending over the hill and beyond, the sun above, the dust in my mouth as I chopped at the weeds, a job that seemed endless. So you found thoughts to occupy your mind.
“Reciting poetry helped, as did Bible verses, song lyrics and limericks. And when you ran out, you invented your own,” Keillor said.
As one who was well acquainted with hoeing and weeding, I understand what Keillor is describing.
Also, Keillor’s vignette reminds me of my mother’s cardinal rule that we were never to bring a hoe into the house because doing so would bring bad luck.
When I once shared that superstition with the late Nell Styron, one of Raleigh’s most colorful citizens, she was skeptical.
“A.C.,” she said, “you obviously misunderstood your dear mother. With that big bunch of boys in your family, what she probably forbade, in her Southern accent, was bringing a woman of ill repute into the house.
Yes, there is something humbling and instructive in spending a day under the hot sun at the end of a hoe handle. Doing so builds character and widens one’s hopes and horizons.
Big boys cry
It’s true that our culture is often guilty of elevating sports to unrealistic realms of importance. Coaches’ salaries often soar into the millions. Even so, we can’t deny that many a mama’s boy becomes more of a man after not only absorbing the hard lumps and licks of sport but also the painful experience of losing. Also, the sports arena is one of the few places where a young man can cry in public without being thought of as unmanly.
I was reminded of this truth by a quote from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski after his team’s stunning loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament.
As his players wept with disappointment, the coach said philosophically, “At the end of the game, I want my guys to be crying because we just lost or crying because we just won.”
Krzyzewski’s comment can also be applied to the game of life. Revealing emotions matters. So much of life consists of laughter and tears. Without the tears, we can’t fully appreciate the laughter.
Our resident bluebirds, a month earlier than normal, built a nest in our bird house. When the female laid four eggs during below freezing weather I announced to my wife, “Well, Mrs. Blue is off her rocker! There’s no way those eggs will hatch.”
I lamented the disappointment the pair would undergo after weeks of her sitting on the eggs with nothing to show for her efforts.
Yeah, you guessed it. I peeped into the nest and was greeted by four gaping beaks attached to four bits of fuzz feathers and skin.
Come May, I’m nominating Mama Blue as “Mother of the Year” and am currently rewarding her with daily dollops of mealworms, birdland’s equivalent of filet mignon!
One of my pet peeves is the practice by TV news networks of labeling almost every broadcast as “Breaking News.”
I’m waiting for “Breaking News” to announce, “This just in! Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown. His wife, Jill, came tumbling after! Stay tuned for further developments!”
Spring has arrived with breathtaking beauty. Poet Sara Teasdale advises:
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost ...