A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Last Saturday we went out to a lake near here. (There are about a thousand of these.) My husband fished. I picked rosehips. For about five hours. He caught two. I picked a couple quarts. Beau and Hemi 'fished' for about five minutes. Picked rosehips for about ten. Wandered up and down the shoreline the rest of the time. Fell in the lake. Cried. (The lakes here are cold.) Sat in the sun to dry off. Hummer stayed in the Kelty on my back except for nursing.
I got to thinking about the transmission of knowledge. I come from a University-Degree-is-Everything! background. It drives my folks just batty that my husband hasn't finished a college degree. But in all that college, I didn't learn anything about putting food on the table. Well, I take that back: I lived in a co-op dorm, and our cook had congestive heart failure one year. While she was in the hospital, the cafeteria at the main dorms took to sending over food. Inedible. I remember a batch of taco meat that was half raw and half burned. We girls took to cooking for ourselves. I learned how to cook for 52. But that wasn't a class.
I didn't learn about rosehips from my folks. I learned from a book. (At this point, I can't recall which. I was fascinated with pioneers as a child. Still am.) I think, for a society, this is a dangerous way to pass down knowledge to the next generation. It's good for the individual within the society who can seek out knowledge they don't have, but it's not good to rely on.
I've been studying lately on how cleaning and cleanliness were handled pre-antibiotics. Compared to our ancestresses, we are absolute slobs. We can rely on magic drugs to make the bacteria go away. Except that we can't anymore. But the old standards and techniques of cleanliness are gone, and except for book archives, no one remembers how it was done. (Which may be why we have so many antibiotic resistant strains: we have higher rates of infection.)
What if the books weren't there? What if I didn't have time to read them? I can see this happening easily: my husband has no time for reading. (His little computer repair business is keeping him up til 1 am most nights, after he's already worked eight or nine hours at his job.)
I am one of those people who is interested in absolutely everything. How do I transmit the things I learn to my children?
How do we define education? Is it that stuff you learn in a classroom that leads to a degree? Is it only when I thunk Beau down at his desk that he's getting educated? (For the record, sweeping is harder to teach than printing!)
I think literacy is one of the most important things he's learning. But I'm not sure. Sweeping might be. Recognizing rose hips and how to prepare them might be more important.
Books are so easily lost to us. The knowledge in our heads is not. How do we ensure that we pass to our children what they need to know? How do we make sure that we learn the things we ourselves need to know, when our ancestors have forgotten what they knew?

(Ah, the miracle of the laptop: the power just went off. Hurray for batteries and wireless! This is a very common happening around here, as in multiple times a week.)


  • At 8:31 PM, September 29, 2007, Blogger *MichiganMomma* said…

    Hi Boysmom,

    Okay, I'm not sure how exactly I surfed on over to your site (let's see: Pearl's to Humble Musings to Casaubon's to You ~ I think). Anyways, in your comment at one of these sites, you mention singing all the verses to "They Built the Ship Titanic". WOW!! I didn't think anyone else knew that song but my sister, myself and anyone else who attended the same YMCA camp we did (in MI).

    Any of that sound familiar?? I have a terrible memory, but it was in MI, on a lake, at least one year I stayed there I was in the cabin "The Swamp". Oh, it all brings back so many terrific memories!

    I'm not sure of your age - I am 32, so this was quite a few years ago.

    Anyways, even if you have *no* idea what I'm talking about, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    "Oh, it was sad (so sad)
    Oh, it was sad (so sad)
    It was sad when the great ship went down - to the bottom of the
    (husbands & wives, little children lost their lives)
    It was sad when the great ship went down: kerplunk, it sunk, like junk. Cha-cha-cha!"

    Lori (aka: *Michigan Momma*)

  • At 10:01 AM, October 09, 2007, Blogger BoysMom said…

    That would be 'my' mother, who grew up in Kalamazoo and Northport!

    She is a few years older than you, and I think it was Girl Scout Camp, though it might have been Interlochen, but definitely Michigan.

    Did you also sing a song that starts "Desert silver-blue beneath the pale moonlight, Coyotes yappin' lazy on the hi-ill," or the Aspen Grove "Down yonder green valley where streamlets meander when twilight is fading I pensively roam,"?


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