Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Thankfully living the good life

 by Julie Carter

Pumpkins have lost their toothy grins and are now joined by turkeys, pilgrims holding platters of food and cornucopias spilling over with vegetable bounty.

If there is any doubt which season is headed your way, the commercialism of it will quickly bring it back to your recollection. No sooner did the garden supplies take the back row at the big box stores than the red and green sparkles of Christmas were front and center. It was August.

November has a way of sparking within us the need to remember the things that inspire us to be thankful. As a child in school, we were assigned to write “Why I am thankful” lists. Today, social media is flooded with those same lists from young and old alike, often in a daily missive for every day of the month.

Much of what I am thankful for in my life now comes from what those that came before me endured in hardships that I only heard about but haven’t personally endured.

We in this current world take our comforts so much for granted. We can't control the weather outside so we create climate-controlled environments inside and live there. As a civilization, we have invented enough forms of electronic entertainment to keep us mindlessly busy 24/7 and never notice what Mother Nature is doing outside. We have a gadget that will tell us if we need to know.

Each generation has a generation before it that lived a very different life with completely different challenges. My kids never knew what black and white TV looked like while I remember when the first one showed up at my grandparents' house. My grandparents remembered when radio was pretty exciting stuff second only to actually having the electricity to use it.

I could outline "hard times" lived by each generation in my family back to the immigration from the "old country." But today I'll just say I'm thankful for their tough mind sets and willingness to make do. Their survival allowed for my generation to be born.

My grandmother wrote about when she was only 18 and had just married my grandfather.

It was in 1930. They lived in a one-room cabin near a freshwater spring in the mountains of Southern Colorado. He worked at a sawmill too far away to travel daily so he left on Monday mornings not to return until Saturday night. They had a dog, a milk cow and very little food. 

She related that they survived on venison and not much else. She made cottage cheese from the cow's milk and my grandfather trapped for coyote, fox and bobcat to sell the furs to supplement a very meager income. 

During their first spring together, the thoughts of green vegetables from her carefully tended garden excited her so. Then in the first week in July, there came a hard freeze and her rows of vegetable plants turned black. She fell to the ground and cried but not for long. She simply started over. That fall she was blessed with a bountiful harvest in spite of the very late start.

My grandmother wrote, "They were years of very hard times, but the memories are sweet and precious. We raised our kids on beans, love and poached venison. Looking back I see just how little material things mattered. Survival and family were what life was all about. Sixty years later, it still is."

Imagine an 18-year-old of today living with so few resources. Survival meant food and shelter, not the latest fashion in belly-button revealing clothes or owning the newest version of the coolest phone.
I’m fairly certain my grandchildren will find no sacrifice in my living today. There isn’t any.

Our "hard times" are so truly relative to the times we live in. Her life gave me a solid perspective on mine. That is what I wish for the generation after me to understand.

Thankfully living and thankfully blessed, Julie can be reached for comment at

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