Sunday, February 15, 2009

Equality of Scooter

I walked into the kitchen this morning and noticed a large jar-like container. What's this, I thought. Maple Syrup. I turned around and poured myself a cup of joe. Then I had to look again because the jar was of a unique shape. Don't they always do that with Maple Syrup? Maybe, but more often than not, jars like this one signified the product was local. Sure enough, the label said the contents were from somewhere here in Minnesota. A town in the northwoods I imagine. Didn't recognize the name.

I asked my wife where she got it. Craft show. Said there were all sorts of locally produced products there. Even some treats from across the river in Wisconsin.

Now I grew up in Wisconsin. During a time when your family knew your butcher. And your butcher knew your family. And your relatives. And their kids. And the schools you and your cousins were attending. It was a small world and I get the feeling these things happened this way because they were intentionally built upon those sorts of relationships.

We were on the poor side of middle class. No doubt we were making ends meet, but every penny consumed could be accounted. If you really wanted something you found a way to earn the money towards it. Sometimes the parents simply overruled you when you told them your plans. So you kept your money, waiting until you had enough for a need and a treat. Because if you saved enough for a need, your parents were more willing to allow you to spend a little toward something fun. Its not an unhappy life, trust me.

I have an uncle. He's now a millionaire. It was said that when Grampa gave him a dollar, he would turn it over three times before settling on its use.

That lesson is not the only one we carry with us in this family. From each relative there are memories of what was done to eek out a living until finances improved. Yet we were never for want. Not really. Oh, we could have dreams about some new thing like a bicycle (as kids) or new lawnmower (as adults). But the reality was, what we had really never hindered us from doing what we wanted.

The trips to the farms were fun. Like field trips. Early Saturday mornings we'd pack up and meet uncles, aunts and cousins at some farm not far out of the city limits. Thick German and Polish accents but mostly everyone just spoke the languages they were most comfortable with. Bushels of potatoes and vegetables we didn't normally grow in the city were loaded (stuffed) into trunks and backseats of Buicks and Oldsmobiles. Us kids merely sat wedged in where we could between the bounty.

Those are some of the best memories I have.

It all came back to me as I thought about that jar of maple syrup. They were indeed good times. We still get some of those things when we head up to Annette's folks. People who never forgot the best ways to live. Only now we don't have room for a chest freezer or the storage for those things as I remember them. Modern houses have no real basements. Or places to keep such things.

But there's a little room in this modern disfunctionally designed excuse for a house. Enough that I could make special runs for things which don't take up much space and are locally made or grown.

Things which would fit on a scooter.



Baron's Life said...

This a heart warming honest to God good story very similar to our family's story...So you see Wisconsin or Pacific North West (CDA)Life is just about the same.
It made my Sunday reading this. Thanks for sharing

American Scooterist Blog said...

Thank you Baron's Life. It finally dawned on me that when times were harder family banded together. When times got easier financially we sometimes left each other to persue economic dreams. When all we could have wanted was right there before us the moment just before we stepped toward the horizon. Life is full of surprises.