A Matter of Perspective . . . and a thing called Irony

Recently WordPress sent out a writing prompt to revisit a post that was blogged back in January and repost it, or rewrite and repost, or something to that effect.  I don’t usually use the prompts (no reason other than I just do my own thing) but this morning for some reason the prompt came to mind.  So I checked back to my January postings and for starters, realized that I wrote some pretty good pieces back then, and second, the irony of reposting from January!  You see, January is when we moved into this lovely apartment that we are now moving out of.  The photos that were used in the following post could have been taken yesterday!  It is because of this irony, and bringing the story full circle, that I am reprinting “A Matter of Perspective.”

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This past week has been hectic, harried and crazy.  We are finally in our new apartment, albeit up to our ears in boxes.  It will be a while before we create order.  My classes are back in full swing and Richard has to go to work everyday.  But at least we are here, achy muscles, fried nerves, testy dispositions and all.  Every part of my body aches and I tell myself that I am too old for this kind of stuff.  As usual with a move, there were many trips to the nearby super market to get the necessary items we could not put our hands on once our belongings were in the apartment.  Normally I would walk, but there were too many things to carry, too many trips to the market, too many times up and down three flights of stairs, so I drove each time. This is too hard, too strenuous, too demanding—physically, mentally and spiritually.  I kvetch without shame, at least for a while, until I think of the lives others have lived.  My discomfort with this move is for a while, then life will settle into a norm again.  I’ve moved often enough to know that this type of chaos and stress is for a short time only.  For others though, my experience is a mere walk in the park.

I am reminded of a story I read in my grandfather’s memoir.  This is one of the many stories from his homesteading days while a youth in western Canada, not too far from Entwistle.  At the time of these events, Grandpa was a teenager.  I decided that for this post I would share what a trip to the market was like for homesteaders in the wilds of Canada in the early part of the twentieth century, a time when one bought provisions enough to get through an entire winter:

 

Our last trip to Entwistle in 1916 (early winter) I shall never forget. We butchered a steer and loaded it on our wagon to sell in Entwistle.  In places the ground was not frozen deep enough to keep us from breaking through the crust occasionally.  When we came to the crossing of the Pimbine River (about 150’ wide) we tested the ice and thought it would hold us (the team of oxen, a loaded wagon, and my brother and I.)  A little past halfway across we broke through in about 3 feet of water.  We uncoupled the oxen from the wagon and after breaking through the ice several times we finally got them to shore where we built a large fire to get warm by.  Then we went back to prepare to pull the wagon out.  We had about 100 feet of pinch rope but the big task was to get the wagon pole out of the 3 feet of water so we could attach the rope to it.  Jesse jumped in the freezing water and attached the rope to the wagon tongue and then by stages of a few feet at a time we finally got it on the bank of the river.  We were exhausted after all this.  We built a large fire in a nearby log shack, brought the oxen inside where it was warm and then curled up in our blankets on top of some old hay in a corner.  We slept little but did get a good six hours rest at least.  By the light of our fire we cooked our breakfast of rabbit that we had killed the day before and with a loaf of bread and gravy we were ready to be on our way.

The oxen were quite comfortable during the night and after getting their fill of hay, they also were ready to hit the trail, none the worse for the rough day before.  Coming back home the next day was the roughest part of our entire round trip.  When we arrived back on the Pimbine River, we carried about 2200 pounds of groceries across the river on our shoulders then pushed the wagon across the ice.  Then we hooked the 40 feet of leather strap to each oxen in the ring in their nose.  While Jesse pulled on the leather strap, I followed using a long black-snake whip to make each ox move along across the ice.  The ice was frozen thick enough to hold each ox, but it was a slow progress getting each one across.  Then we had to load everything we had carried across the ice and by that time it was late in the night.  I might add here that the crossing on the Pimbine was about 4 to 6 miles down the river from Entwistle.  During the day before the sky was clear and during the middle of the day, about 4 hours, the sun came out bright and warm and thawed the snow on the road going up a steep hill.  Thus we could not get the oxen up the hill, so we spent about 16 hours cutting a trail through the woods around the hill then coming back by the road about sunup or about 9 A.M.  Yes we were exhausted, so after a breakfast of oatmeal and bacon cooked over our improvised camp fire, we rolled up in our blanket and slept for several hours.

There were 2 other short hills that were coated with ice and we had to pack part of our load on our backs and reload again at the top.  The team of oxen could not get solid, safe footing with too big or heavy a load.  We were two days going to Entwistle and 3 days going back home. The last night we stopped over at Jim McKinley’s Stopping Place as those places of night lodging were called in those days.

Never did home look so good to two young men and we slept about 14 hours after we unloaded our provisions and put everything in their place.

When I think of Grandpa, and then I look around this apartment and the mess herein, I am thankful for the comforts that I take for granted every day.  The fact of the matter is that there are many people in the world today who live lives very similar to the life Grandpa lived in his youth.  There is a lot that could be said about the privileges we have, but I will
leave that to another blog.  For now though, my hope is that I shall never forget that no matter how tired, achy, irritable I am, my life is very easy and I have much to be thankful for.

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Just as the title reads, moving ~ and how one feels about it and deals with it ~ is a matter of perspective.  I hope you enjoyed the “re-read” as much as I did. Have a wonderful day and remember to pay attention to those moments in life that remind us to keep the events and occurrences of our lives in perspective.

 

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22 thoughts on “A Matter of Perspective . . . and a thing called Irony

  1. What a great post, Cecelia! Your grandpa’s writings … to really get things in perspective! I’ve been in the same situation as you are now … only lived a few months in an apartment before I had to move. The banana boxes … the old newspapers … the back pain …. the nerves … I would have needed to read your grandpa’s stuff back then.

    I’m always thankful for the little things. This morning I’m thankful for ‘no humidity’, fresh air! 🙂

    1. I do appreciate your comments, Rebekah. I’m happy to hear that you like the post, one I pulled up from the past January when we moved into this place. You do know what I’m going through this time. Chaos gets to me, and the nerves, the back pain, the old newspapers and boxes everywhere ~ ayeayeaye! But soon Richard and i will be together in OH, and our move will have been much easier than Grandpa’s trek to the market, both for which I am thankful.

      Glad to hear that the humidity has subsided. Enjoy your day!

  2. Cecelia, thank you for posting the story from your grandfather’s 1916 memoir as I missed seeing it in January. What an undertaking they had with the oxen when they went for provisions. The photo is great, too.

    It is also interesting to see and read about your arrival in the apartment you are now packed back up to leave.

    1. Thanks Barbara. My grandfather is the one standing on the far right apart from the group. He was quite a man, and he always had a story to tell me, usually something with a message. 🙂

  3. Cecelia, your post certainly put ‘now and then’ in perspective. I’m guilty of taking too much for granted. It’s humbling reading your Grandpa’s memoir. May you receive all the grace you need to finish your moving task.

  4. Great post!!! It’s no wonder WordPress sent out a writing prompt to revisit it.
    My grandfather (my dad’s father) immigrated from Canada with his family many years ago. They settled in the New Hampshire (and then Massachusetts). We visited them when I was about 12 years old. My grandfather’s mother only spoke french – no english. Needless to say, I was mesmerized.
    Thank you so much. Not only did this repost bring back marvelous memories, but it allowed me to get things in perspective too.
    Good luck with packing and moving. At least you’ve got a moving van and don’t have to deal with oxen.
    Take care. -Theresa

    1. Thanks Theresa! Hahaha. . . I’m not sure how I’d handle oxen. I’ll take the van thank you.
      It is wonderful reading memoirs of people who mean something to you. I’ve toyed with the idea on an off of writing my grandparents memoirs into a story (along with all the other ideas I’m working pn now!) It is good to remember how people lived then (and many still live that way in parts of the world). Helps us keep perspective. New Hampshire is a lovely state. I lived there for a year many years ago. I can only imagine how fascinating as a child it must have been to be around people who only spoke French when you spoke English (it is English, isn’t it?)
      Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Yes, I only speak English.
        Thank you for laughing as I was trying very hard to at least make you giggle.
        Take it as easy as you can during this hectic time of your life.

  5. I missed this the first time, which is a shame, because it’s a wonderful piece (thank you very much for re-posting it, Ms. F)!
    It is definitely good to keep in mind how fortunate we really are in this time and place…
    🙂

  6. You dont know how enjoyable it can be to read about someone else moving. When I retired from the Army I was positive my moving days were over, But there was one more over 10 years ago now and there are still tools that I can’t find. Funny how they always show up just after I buy a new one. jkc

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kit. Yes, moving is no picnic. Hopefully this will be the last major move we have to make. For now most of our stuff is going into storage and we have a short-term lease on a tiny apartment until we can find something more permanent. (Richard doesn’t think Akron will work.) In a matter of days now we will be in OH for good. I will be so glad to have this part behind us!

  7. I too missed this first time around. But it’s even better this time for the Then and Now perspective. This is the stuff of fine memoirs, Cecilia (not that you need anything else at this moment, but you there will be other moments).
    What surprised me most (besides the actual rigors of the trip) was to see the photograph! Of course I clicked on it —
    Unconsciously I expected to see old worn beaten-down figures and faces. No, they are young and strong and each as keen and eager as different personalities are, and I realized perhaps for the first time — “historical” figures are/were REAL, as real and vivid as we are. That’s quite a perspective to realize that I’ve been missing for three-quarters of a century! (Speaking of ironies.)
    Thank you for a wonderful post and repost!

    1. T2T, you made my day! I hope to post more of Grandpa’s memoirs in the future. The stories have so much more meaning when they are the stories of someone you love. I’m glad you clicked on the photo . . . Grandpa is the one on the far right standing slightly apart from the group. There is a photo of him when he was in his 20’s or 30’s holding one of his kids (I believe is was my Uncle David) and he looks like a body builder, muscular good looks. When one reads his memoirs s/he understands why! At any rate, I’m glad you appreciated the post and the enlightenment, too. Thanks as always for stopping by and leaving a comment. After this move, I hope to return to “blog hopping” . . . I am so behind. Have a wonderful day. 🙂

  8. A great post – and I too missed the original since I hadn’t discovered your site yet in January. So I am glad you re-visited and shared ‘something old’. A good reminder for all of us to be grateful for all the conveniences and amenities we enjoy to help us through our daily chores.

    All the best with your move!

  9. Essentially, you have come full circle in your journey with moving…. See what the magic of a re-post can do? Excellent topic and as fresh as when I first read it in January!. Hope you are doing well… We are deluged by the rains. 🙂 TY!

    1. Yes, we have come full circle. I had forgotten about that post until the prompt (which I waited days to respond to!) but I knew when I laid eyes on it that this was the post for today’s blog. Glad you enjoyed it the second time around. Yes, we are well. The movers arrive to gather up our stuff bright and early tomorrow morning. Stay dry. 🙂

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