Laura and I rode along with David when he went off to college in Virginia. We stayed in a motel in Leesburg, and is my habit, I took a walk. There, right under my feet, imbedded in the sidewalk, were quotes such as these, from Martin Luther King, Jr. Step by step, I raised a keen awareness as I made my way back to our lodgings. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Back home, I spoke to the girls. “Could you please turn that up?” They were enjoying “Anne of Green Gables” during their noon hour, and my hands were busy in a sinkful of big, red tomatoes. My mind flashed back to memories of my mother’s efficiency; pans full of peas to shell and green beans to cut while she sat on the bank of the farm pond, watching us swim; her sock-darning needle and beeswax busy on her lap as the family sat around in the evening. She always put more than one dish to bake in the oven, “so as not to waste the heat”, and would not call the hot water up from the cellar just to rinse her hands, “I’ll be done before it has a chance to get up here.” It all adds up.
My son Paul is a master of efficiency as manager of our sugaring business. From laying out a new system of tubing in the woods, to boiling, to marketing, his mind never rests, as he devises newer, more effective methods, minimizing input, maximizing output. His toolbelt reminds me of a mother’s handbag, never short on anything imaginably needed-wire ties, connectors, orange marking tape, and the ever-present razor knife. The fire-wood delivery truck is a moving advertisement for Sillowaymaple.com, his cap promotes maple, his bathroom counter has piles of maple research reading material. Maple, “It runs in the family.”
I thought about efficiency as I rode around the hayfield this summer, perched on the fender of the John Deere, while Laura learned to ted. After a few rounds, she was driving smoothly, watching for green bunches, and perfectly able to work on her own. I could have used that time to work another job, but this proud mother cast efficiency to the wind, and rode around and around for the rest of the day.