Darn It Anyway
[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
Darn — to mend (a garment, for example) by weaving thread or yarn across a gap or hole.
I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to participating in the throwaway society. Although I have always been good about passing my kids’ clothes down, and Lord knows my kids would have run around naked had it not been for hand-me-downs, I haven’t always been good about repairing worn clothing. Worse yet, I was wasteful by not re-purposing old clothes. I am happy to report, though, that my ways have changed. It has now become habit for me to cut up old jeans for patches and to cut up old shirts and save the material for other uses. And lordy, I save every button I find now.
It has been mentioned here time and time again that we are blessed to be able to choose…sort of a little smorgasbord of life with a little from the past, a little present and a little future. Although, I have been thinking about that a lot lately and wondering, haven’t we always been able to do that? Sure, the choices seem to have a cavern between them to us, but sort of like “cooking a frog,” it has been a slow build. Back when my grandma was a young woman, I am sure she could never even imagine the world we are in today. And when I am 90, I think that the world will look even different than it does now. I have done enough of the “old world” things to know that in some areas we are certainly blessed. But I think that the generation of people who used the clothes wringer washers felt the same way when the new-fangled ones showed up. And how about the jump from horse and buggy to automobiles…that was progress! Those who didn’t have phones and then got them thought they made life bigger and better.
A few short years ago when I was younger and my kids were young, I recall being stranded on the side of the road in 100-degree weather. I had two little boys with me and was eight months pregnant. I didn’t have a cell phone or a laptop to call for help. I had two choices: either walk to the nearest farmhouse and ask for help, or wait until some kind-hearted stranger passed by and took the time to stop. Lucky for me, I was spotted by a familiar face and rescued, although my sense of humor was certainly left along the roadside. Even then, I couldn’t image having the ability to call from where I was. Now, it seems I think I can’t make it down to the post office without my cell phone. What is wrong with me? I literally turn around to go back to the house and grab my phone for a 15-minute errand.
I am learning to be more fugal, not just because I have to be, but rather because I want to be. I don’t like being wasteful and living life as if there is an endless supply of “new.” Maybe it is because I am now classified as old that I have a better appreciation of it. Frankly, I prefer the word “vintage.”
This summer as my kids are cleaning their closets of everything that is worn or no longer fits, we are making three piles: things that can be handed down, things that can be re-purposed, and things that can be salvaged. Maybe the jeans are toast, but they can be cut up and used for patches or quilts, or the zipper and buttons can be stripped off to use again. I even found an old dresser to organize it all.
So this week as two more of our friends called to let us know that they were among the growing list of people we love and care about who are “out of work,” it has reminded me that being frugal by choice is better than being frugal out of necessity. Normally I am a person who believes in abundance, yet there have been many moments lately that I worry about the lack of jobs. It seems that people all around us are hurting, and it reminds me that there are many lessons from the past that we can really learn from in today’s economy. Lessons like “putting up bounty,” make do with what you have when you can, and darn it anyway…