For love of misery

Miseries regarding weather are much favored in the countryside, and other places. We take pride in suffering the heaviest snow, the deepest mud, the coldest cold, the driest droughts. One’s level of poverty, and the size of local mosquitoes are also fine topics. An outsider might regard this as whining, but it’s nothing of the sort. It’s boasting pure and simple. You see, pleasure lies not in suffering hardships, but in overcoming them – or waving them away as a mere annoyance. And the deeper the snow or mud, the better one can feel for having come through it.

 In relating a proper misery, the trick is to employ understatement and, whenever possible, humor (as in”Only 10 inches?. That isn’t a storm, it’s a heavy frost.”)  And the greater the misery the more one works at seeming not to notice. When the town snowplow used to get stuck on a hill near our place in New Hampshire, the driver would walk up to ask about using the phone, and casually observe, “Bit of snow out there this morning.”

 Exaggeration is a minor player in weather miseries because you’re never sure if the tale is true or not. And it’s probably not.

An old acquaintance used to say how, in his drafty old farmhouse, the best way to tell wind direction on a winter night was to hang an iron plow chain from the bedpost and see which way it leaned. “If the chain started swinging in circles, snapping off links, you could count on a good storm blowin’ up before morning,” said he.

 “You need a stronger chain,” said I.

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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