It was a beautiful Tennessee spring morning when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm. The hills behind their house this year, once again, are bathed in hues of deep greens due to all of the rainfall we’ve received. But their driveway did show signs of a whole lot of rain, with some pretty deep ruts cut by several inches of precipitation that used their gravel drive for a riverbed the last few weeks.
When I got out of my car, I was trying not to show how this year’s pollen was using me as a source of attraction. Uncle Sid never has problems with allergies, and he blames the problems on “foreign” plants brought in here to bloom pretty, which only makes people’s noses bloom instead. There was no way I was going to let him know my head resembled a too tight drum.
Of course, Aunt Sadie met me at the front door wiping her hands on her apron and led me through the house to the back porch, where Uncle Sid was looking at the mail while enjoying the warmth of the morning sun. There, setting on a white painted round table, was a plate of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and a pitcher of ice cold milk just waiting for someone like me to help myself. I just wished I could have tasted Aunt Sadie’s homemade delights.
Her cinnamon rolls are the real things, too! Uncle Sid wouldn’t allow any of those canned types to be placed on the table at their house. He has complained for years about canned biscuits causing marriage problems in the home. Uncle Sid puts a lot of stock and value in good homemade biscuits, to the point where he thinks a plate of biscuits and preserves can solve any problem you might have. He once said, “It use to be housewives would pride themselves on their homemade biscuits, but now across America, in subdivisions early every morning, ladies are up popping open those canned biscuits on every street to the point where it sounds like a war.”
After exchanging pleasantries and taking my seat in a lime green metal chair near the table to share with Uncle Sid some of Aunt Sadie’s cinnamon rolls, Aunt Sadie asked me how things were going. It had been a pretty demanding week, and I sort of complained about how hard I had been working lately, not mentioning the allergy problems. I even made the statement of not having enough time to get things done the way I really wanted them to be completed.
“Boy (I’m 66 and he still calls me boy), time - and how you use it - is all up to you,” Uncle Sid said while biting down on one of Aunt Sadie’s cinnamon rolls.
Thinking to myself that Uncle Sid had never worked for anyone other than himself, and had spent his entire life on this farm, I assumed he knew very little about today’s world and the problems with modern-day time management, as well as the political world. “That’s true, but today, it’s tough in the political and business world, Uncle Sid,” I answered the old man while pouring myself a glass of milk.
Setting his plate down on the porch table, he pushed back in his chair, and I could tell I was about to get a lesson in time management. He looked at me and said, “I was walking several years ago, as a young man, over on the Haint Hollow Road near old man Howard’s farm, when I passed his orchard and saw him out there with a small pig under his arm holding it up to the apple trees. He was letting that pig eat apples one at a time. After it would finish one apple, he would move to another for the pig to eat.”
He paused for a drink of milk and continued, “I stood there and watched him for a while, and then asked, ‘What you doing, Mr. Howard?’ He just kept holding that pig up to that tree and answered, ‘I’m feeding my pig.’ To which I said, ‘Ain’t that awfully time consuming feeding a hog that way?’”
Uncle Sid then leaned back in his lime green porch chair, looked straight at me, and said, “To which Mr. Howard said, ‘Yeah, but what’s time to a hog?’”
With that, Uncle Sid got up and headed out to do his morning chores, leaving Aunt Sadie and me to ponder that time management story. And you know, a lot of the things I do every day are sort of like feeding apples to a pig from an apple tree, and I often wonder, “What is time to a hog?”
Welcome to the world of politics.
Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.