By PETTUS READ
It was a beautiful Tennessee early spring afternoon when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm. The hills behind their house this time of year are in full-blown spring. Maples have leaves on their limbs and other trees are starting to show signs of pastel greens, as they too are ready to come back to life once again. I love this time of the year when new life is arriving after a cold winter and this year was one that winter just didn’t want to give up.
Just like spring’s newness, Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie are showing signs of looking forward to the coming warmth of spring and summer also. The quilted draft-dodger that has been lying by the back door, that has to be moved every time you come in, is now gone into storage until next winter and Aunt Sadie has already put out a new bunch of Wave petunias in the old horse trough near the drive - purple of course.
Aunt Sadie met me at the front door wiping her hands on her apron as usual that day and led me to the back portion of their house where the old couple spends most of their time. After exchanging pleasantries, Uncle Sid once again directed his attention to the local newspaper that he reads every day just like he reads his Bible every night. “What’s in the news?” I asked while sitting down with a cup of Aunt Sadie’s hot apple cider.
Now looking my way, Uncle Sid said, “I just read here that obesity will reduce five years from our life expectancy. If this is true, then too much fat and calorie intake may soon be the final solution to repairing our Social Security problems. It sounds like we are going to “super-size” ourselves right into the hereafter earlier than normal and reduce the need for old-age funds for many folks. So, I say leave folks alone and let them enjoy life, plus solve a problem.”
Aunt Sadie has been the one that has made sure Uncle Sid has lived a healthy life for over 55 years and finding an ounce of unnecessary fat on my old relative would be an impossible task. “Not everyone is like Sid,” Aunt Sadie chimed in. “When he’s not reading, he’s walking and he is not one to put on extra weight. He also eats enough fiber that you could make a couple wicker baskets out of what he consumes. We were “health wise” as they called it before it was the thing to do.”
“You must have some kind of health secret to be as healthy as you two are,” I said while downing another teacake. “I can’t remember either of you ever being sick, other than a cold.”
Laying down his newspaper, Uncle Sid leaned back in his chair and said, “Well Boy, (he still calls me Boy) I will tell you the secret of my success. I have been in the open air day after day for some 55 years now."
I know the farming life does require a lot of time outside and I would guess the fresh country air does have its benefits. The difference between Uncle Sid’s intake of unhealthy food and mine is the fact that he does not slow down. He spends his days walking the farm, doing the chores and avoiding a daily consumption of TV. On the other hand, I work a lot behind a computer, walk to the snack bar and enjoy a daily dose of TV brain destruction.
Uncle Sid worked all his life on a dairy farm right here in Tennessee. He often would tell me when I was a little boy how he had toughened himself up so he could stand the rigors of milking cows twice a day, hauling hay and all the other backbreaking chores of farm life.
The old farmer went on to explain his good health, while looking in the direction of his bride and saying, "You see, Sadie and I were married 55 years ago. It has been many years of sharing equally with each other everything we’ve got and will ever plan to have.”
You could now almost see the twinkle in his eye as he went on to explain his reason for open-air days. I knew how much he loved Auntie Sadie but he also enjoyed getting her with a zinger every now and then. They do share everything and their sense of humor is one thing that often gets over worked.
Uncle Sid went on to explain to me and also slowly made his way to the door leading to the side porch, “On our wedding night, we made a solemn pledge. Whenever we had a fight, the one who was proven wrong would go outside and take a walk. I have been walking in the fresh country air for 55 years and I don’t see any let up anytime soon." With that he took another walk in the springtime air.
- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org