Thursday, October 14, 2010

Going forward while looking back

As a historian, one of the things I do everyday is look back. I research the past, discover threads people have left behind and help preserve and tell their stories. Discovering and knowing people used various artifacts that have been given to my local museum is a favorite part of my job. As I grow older I find myself reluctant to work too hard to keep moving forward.

This post came about because I found a blogger living in Idaho named Patrice Lewis. Her blog, called Rural-revolution
is one of my favorite. She has fun tips, great pictures and a wonderful attitude. She wrote a post that discusses snathes and the death of knowledge.

As I read Mrs. Lewis' post, I came to realize that because of today's technology, many of the stories of the past, that could have been lost, will be preserved. Digital remnants may become obsolete, but people like me who learned what a snath was, will be inspired to remember, perhaps even try to learn how to use make, use and train others to sythe grain.

Stories I write down for my grandchildren are the ones I learned the most from. Snathes and sythes will have to be included in a future tale.

I was born two score and ten years ago this coming January. I grew up playing outside, even when it snowed. We didn't have a television until the men walked on the moon. I was eight and I still remember my father carrying in that television with a wooden case and a black & white screen. We three children sat at his feet, while he explained rocket ships and I dreamed of flying and bouncing on the moon.

That next month in February of 1969, one of the worst blizzards ever hit north eastern South Dakota. We woke up on morning, and our corner lot was covered in drifts up to the second story. My father had to climb out of the second story window to shovel us out. The snow was packed so tightly that he didn't sink much, and my mother let my little brother and I get dressed to fly down the drifts on our sled. My little brother got stuck, daddy had to dig him out and that was the end of that. I didn't realize it until I checked, but we had 109.2 inches of snow that year.

Today, because of those astronauts and their need to communicate with earth, I am able to watch movies, news, documentaries, listen to music and update this blog on my little netbook computer and even my phone. I now talk to my father on Facebook and via text messages. Even historians love Google.

Today, especially in the fall, winter and spring, I check the weather on my smartphone before venturing out. I live on the Minnesota prairie now, but as in the Dakota's, the weather is quick to change. Winter is soon approaching and the ten day forecast dictates I should wear my wool civil war dress and flannel bloomers while serving dinner at our museum's log cabin dinner.

There is no central heat, electricity or running water, in the cabin so I will be experiencing life as it was back in 1864 when our county was first settled. I will have my smartphone in my reticule and have promised my daughter in California I would upload pictures on my Facebook page.

Looking forward while going back or looking back while going forward? Some days the lines are rather blurry.