Road Crew

Monday, April 4, 2016

life lessons

I thought my parents taught me what I needed to know in life but this trip makes me consider otherwise.
            My father guided me on lawn maintence which proved profitable in my younger years.  I took great pride in a well-mowed lawn with neat patterns and no missed blades.  It was a job with immediate gratification and let me enjoy the great outdoors even if it was to the din of the lawn mower.  We now live in Arizona where lawns are an extravagant luxury.  Anything green is declared a weed and promptly removed for fear of disrupting the pale brown monotony of rock gardens.
            I also learned to skin and clean deer and elk from my father, which provided my family with meat and leather.  Such skills seemed to be common knowledge as most of the families I knew did the same. I have intimate knowledge of where my food came from and its impact on the environment, something I don’t take for granted.  However, I don’t own a gun and do not hunt.  Should life be so desperate that I need to draw on this knowledge, well, God help us all.
            My first driving lesson was with a stick shift.  This was inevitable as our vehicles were all stick shifts but also proved practical.  I have never been stranded with a car I could not get into gear.  In my recent search for a new vehicle to tow the teardrop, it became increasingly clear that this is a lost art and will soon be a relic along with slide rules and Ataris.
            My mother did her best to teach me how to take care of myself as well.  From middle school on, I was left to do my own laundry. I would often run 4-5 loads based on my meticulous evaluation of color and fabric so that nothing ran or shrank. This came to a prompt end on this trip. I considered the contents of my laundry bag.  At the cost of six quarters per load plus drying, the colors suddenly became close enough and everything went in together.  I expect my wardrobe to be uniformly grey by the end.
            My mother also taught me to cook.  I can roast a turkey, role a pie crust and bake bread.  I am far from gourmet but no one will starve at my table and you might even go back for seconds.  Unfortunately the oven and Kitchenaid did not fit in the teardrop.  I do have the highest quality can opener I could find and no can has failed to yield to its force.  I have perfected boiling water for my five minute rice.  This is as close as I am getting to turkey on this trip. 
            My mother also made sure that I kept a clean house, not that I think she wanted me to be a housewife but that she couldn’t possibly keep up with five people’s dirt.  On the rare occasions I was left home alone, I really didn’t mind cleaning the house and was happy to help.  It is somewhat ironic that years later while living alone, the first thing I did as soon as I could afford it was hire a housekeeper.  Even with only two square feet to sweep, my housekeeper may just be the person I miss the most on this trip.
            My parents expected me to work hard and budget wisely.  Indeed, I did this, too, right up until I decided being poor but not working wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I suppose as a parent you can’t expect all the lessons to stick.
            Somehow I failed to learn the things I really need to know like how to start a fire.  I am surrounded by campfires: the smoke, the popping, the warm glow, the cheery laughter.  Every place I camp has a fire pit full of ashes taunting me.  Finally in the Great Smokies with time on my hands and plenty of wood around, I decided to try one.  Let’s just say that after running through an entire lighter, it still looks like this. 

I crawled back into the camper with shame.
            I also do not know how much an empty propane tank weighs.  Never being in charge of the grill, this was not something I ever had chance to consider. After two weeks on the road and a couple of cold nights, I worried it was low. I spent all day trying to resolve this problem but still don’t know how much an empty tank weighs.  That is because it is still full, as the kind man informed me. 

            This could be a long trip.

1 comment:

  1. I am sure you are permanently damaged by the firebug habits of your father, including the time you had to call Dan Hodson to come and help and neglected to tell him we were out fighting the fire. He came storming to the house, barefoot and ran through the woods shouting and hollering as he stepped on things as we fought the brush fire. There are other stories of your father and fires that I won't recount here but suffice to say, I am glad you are not as much of a fire risk as he is.