Saturday, November 21, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Almost 2 PM here on the mountain. 46 degrees with winds smothering in and out from 1 to 3 miles an hour. Karl the Wonder Dog is snoring on the couch and impatient deer hunters are driving the roads, waiting for another hour before heading for their favorite stand until dark. Gail is outside pruning fir balsam boughs for wreaths and I'm just getting back to the computer after an ongoing saga of medical repairs on my body. Carpal tunnel release, one trigger finger, one hernia repaired, one more trigger finger to go and then more recuperation. My dad always said "Boy, I'll be happy when it stops hurtin'!" and I know just what he meant.

A few weeks back we took a ride to Glover, Vermont. Gail and Alex hadn't been there before and I wanted them to visit Curriers Market. This is a neat old place that's half grocery store, half sporting goods store. The meat is very good and the prices for the various cuts are hand written on paper hanging in front of the counter. As the price moves up or down, the butcher lines out the last price and writes in the new one. The meat is fresh cut for you and there's something special about a butcher/butcheress (?) who knows your name and how you like things done.

What I wanted Gail and Alex to see wasn't the meat though, but the taxidermy on display. The store is a museum of animal mounts, mostly from Vermont and Canada and some from further away. The walls around the beverage coolers are papered with Polaroid pictures of each season's harvest--pictures of deer and bear and turkeys and hunters by the hundreds. It's a place that has a history that should be written but is relived many times each year.

On the outskirts of town there's a pull off that's worth the stop as it forces recall of two hundred years worth of history. The Town of Glover erected this monument to a time in 1810 when 60 men and boys changed history and geography at the same time. As you read the stone and the commemorative plaque that appears on its reverse side, glance back up to the picture up top and visualize if there was 70 feet of water on top of the gravel you would be standing on. Click on the pictures to enlarge the writing so you understand the story of what happened.

Sooo-o-o-o, many hands do make light work and in this case 60 sets of hands changed history. Today the same task would have been automated with giant heavy equipment but it wouldn't have been allowed without a truckload of applications, deer yard reviews, bear habitat reviews, site visits, hearings and permits. Today it wouldn't take 60 men to get the job done but factually 60 men could do the job by hand faster than the entire process would take in modern times.

In the same pull off as the marker are some benches made from millstones. Again, the stones represent a time that is long passed but the granite of the stones and the method by which they were manufactured 200 years ago serves as reminder to the amount of physical work people had to do just to exist. When you're shopping next and you reach for a 5 pound sack of flour, remember these millstones and think about where we've gone since then.

This final picture shows a water well configured to match the millstones. The accompanying sign cautions that the water hasn't been tested but there's no doubt that hundreds of critters have stopped for a drink over the past couple hundred years. The picture gives another example to think through 70 feet of water that stood here before the trench was cut.

Gardening can be a tough experience and smart gardeners benefit from the helping hands of friends. I should have learned this lesson before I needed to learn the advantage of prosthetic mesh to patch a tear in an aging mid section. Well, I learned the lesson late but I do have some time to catch up on garden reading.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where good gardeners should care about their health and not try to do too much themselves.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm


Unknown said...

Dear George, Thanks for working through the pain. Your blogs have given me much pleasure, and considerable inspiration and education, during the past couple of years. Thank you for sharing so much of your life and wisdom.
Gail U

Susan Tomlinson said...

Sorry about all the creakiness, George. Hope your continued recovery goes well.

As for many hands making light work, that was one of my grandmother's favorite sayings. And you're right that 60 sets of hands could do a job faster than modern machinery rings true. First of all, we'd have to sit around forever waiting for the heavy equipment to arrive...

joey said...

Stay well, dear George! It's been way too long for a good visit ... I could stay put for quite a spell and read on and on ... like my mother who has been gone for many years, you have a gift for weaving a tale. Wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful Thanksgiving! ((Hugs)) from an old friend :)

lynn'sgarden said...

Ah..just the mention of carpal tunnel gives me! Thanks for an interesting read and tour of Glover.
Have a wonderful T-Giving, George!