by Pettus Read
It had been a while since I had made the trip out to this part of the county to visit with my relatives. As I pulled into the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie's, I was already looking forward to sitting down at their kitchen table for a time of down-home discussion. And, the chance of getting some of Aunt Sadie's homemade tea cakes also helped lure me to their white clapboard house out near the county line as well.
Winter was making its presence known as I hurriedly moved from my car to the wide back porch of their farm house. The north wind was kicking up fallen leaves from the large maple trees that surrounded the farmstead and just seeing Aunt Sadie standing at the house's threshold and holding the screen door open for me to enter was enough to warm the coldest winter day.
Just as I had hoped for, she had baked her famous tea cakes that morning and the aroma of their goodness still filled the air in the couple's kitchen. After a hug and taking my coat to the bedroom across the hall, Aunt Sadie removed the cover from her cut glass cake stand that held a good supply of fresh tea cakes. They were still warm and soft. She placed two on a china plate and handed them to me along with a cup of hot cider. While trying to control my drooling, I took a place at the round kitchen table across from Uncle Sid.
Uncle Sid had hardly noticed I had even entered the house until I bumped the leg of the table as I sat down, jiggling his cup of cider. He had a brochure laying in front of him and he was in heavy consideration over its contents. Now realizing I was across the table from him, he picked it up and proceeded to explain to me what it was all about. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Aunt Sadie shaking her head and walking off into the front of the house. I knew from her look that my tea cakes were not going to be enough payment for the information I was about to be given by the old farmer.
"Boy (he still calls me that), are you into all this being green business now going around?" he asked without a smile.
Not knowing exactly how I should answer his question, I countered with a question of my own and said, "You for it or against it?"
Seeing that I had given him a politically correct response he figured out real quick that I was there for the tea cakes and not a debate over the environment. Having been a part of the sixties revolution and still being one that enjoys hearing a song from the Beatles, I still have hope for World Peace and it wasn't going to happen that day at the table of Uncle Sid.
"What's got you all heated up about being green anyway?" I asked as I finished my second tea cake.
"I had you sort of picked more with a brown environment profile than a green one," I said to have a little fun out of him. It was dangerous to do, but I knew Aunt Sadie was close by and she would come to my rescue.
"My granddaughter, Suet, came by yesterday and gave me this pamphlet from some kind of environmental group. It's suppose to show ways to be green and help the environment," he said while looking at the pamphlet. "I just realized I was raised green most of my life and didn't know it. We just thought we were poor!"
He went on to say, "For example, it says to recycle paper. We did that for years with the Sears and Roebuck catalog. After ordering what we needed, it went straight to the outhouse."
With that comment I got another tea cake and cup of cider, because I knew this was going to get interesting.
"They say I should save my Christmas paper and ribbon from year to year. We used to do that and even ironed it to make it smoother," Uncle Sid said. "During the depression we were about as green as a gourd. We walked everywhere, reused everything, didn't waste electrical energy because we didn't have any, collected cans and scrap metal, didn't eat out much because eating out back then simply meant in the yard, and ate organic because we couldn't afford fertilizer other than what came out of the barn."
Uncle Sid took Suet's pamphlet and placed it near the center of the table. He then leaned back in his chair and said, "I have worked all my life taking care of the environment as a full-time farmer. I love this old farm and I learned a long time ago that if you don't take care of the soil, the water, the wildlife and all your livestock, then forget about the future of your farm. Yeah, I was green way before it was the popular thing to do."
Uncle Sid preached a lot of truth that winter day. Those of us in the rural populous have been green for years because of necessity and not because of a cause. Green is as green does.