Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Husbandly Fare

    It was more than three centuries ago that native Thomas Tusser, musician, chorister, and farmer, gave to the world his incomparable "Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry." He covered the farm year and the farm work as completely as Vergil had covered it more than fifteen centuries before; and he left us sketches of the countryside of his day, and the ways of the good plain folk, and quaint bits of philosophy and counsel. He celebrated the Christmas festival with much conviction, and in the homely way of the home folks, deriving his satisfactions from the things that the land produces. His sketches are wholesome reading in these days of foods transported from the ends of the earth, and compounded by impersonal devices and condensed into packages that go into every house alike.
...May we not once in the year remember the earth in the food that we eat? May we not in some way, even though we live in town, so organize our Christmas festival that the thought of the goodness of the land and its bounty shall be a conscious part of our celebration? May we not for once reduce to the very minimum the supply of manufactured and sophisticated things, and come somewhere near, at least in spirit, to a "Christmas husbandly fare?" - L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Difficulty with Much of our Teaching

    The difficulty with much of our teaching is that the pupil does not carry it with him into life; and he does not carry it with him because it is likely to be taught in an abstract way and without any particular articulation or vibration with the situations that he has to meet or with the knowledge that he is likely to gain by experience. I do not care much about the mere "practical" teaching, meaning by that the direct outcome of teaching in dollars and cents; but I care very much to have our teaching really mean something to the pupil, and to this end all teaching should be applicable.
... I think we shall some day consider it to be important that our people know the actual products of the earth, not only that they may utilize these products effectively but that they also may have the resource that comes from good nature-knowledge. - L.H. Bailey, 1913, "York State Rural Problems"

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

How the Trees Look in Winter

Only the growing and open season is thought to be attractive in the country. The winter is bare and cheerless. The trees are naked.
The flowers are under the snow. The birds have flown. The only bright and cheery spot is the winter fireside. But even there the farmer has so much time that he does not know what to do with it. Only those who have little time, appreciate its value.
But the winter is not lifeless and charmless. It is only dormant. The external world fails to interest us because we not been trained to see and know it; and also because the rigorous weather and the snow prevent us from going afield....If the farmer's winter is to be more enjoyable, the farmer must have more points of contact with the winter world. One of the best and most direct of these points of sympathy is an interest in the winter aspects of trees. Let us consider the subject a moment.
Consciously or unconsciously, we think of trees much as we think o f persons. They suggest thoughts and feelings which are also attributes of people. A tree is weeping, gay, restful, spirited, quiet, sombre. That is, trees have expression. The expression resides in the observer, however, not in the tree. Therefore, the more the person is trained to observe and to reflect, the more sensitive his mind to the things about him, and the more meaning the trees have. No one loves natures who does not love trees. - L.H. Bailey, 1899