Pride, Nature and the Nature of Pride

April 26, 2006 at 9:18 pm 8 comments

The first time I visited my Great Uncle Chuck's farm was about three years ago.  During the visit, he guided me around his various fields on his property.  We visited the cows, of course.  We visited his man-made pond and we also visited a forest composed of mostly pine trees.  My Great Uncle had planted those pine trees when he first purchased the farm when he returned from WWII.  In the 45 years since then, the pines had grown tall and strong.

45 Year Old Pine Tree

"I made my own forest," my Great Uncle said, "I think that is what I'm most proud of."

At the time, I found his statement curious.  This man had a lot to be proud of.  Not only did he fight in WWII but he trained numerous pilots beforehand.  He was injured in battle and endured 11 months in the V.A. hospital recovering.  After that, he became a successful civil engineer.  His been to every state in the union– including Hawaii four times and Alaska twice.  He's visited numerous countries, including France when he 87 years old (and just seven months after a bad accident with a manure spreader!).  He remained busy after retirement, running his own beef farm.  And presently at the age of 89 he is in better shape than most 20 year olds.  But it is the trees he planted in his youth that he is most fond of.

Well, now I think I can understand his pride a bit.  So far in 2006, I've found myself proud of a couple of surprising scenarios:

Blaze on the Appalachian Trail
A couple of years ago a girlfriend and I took a wrong turn on the Appalachian Trail.  Afterwards, I sent a suggestion to the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club to put a switchback blaze right before the veer off.  On January 1st of this year, another girlfriend and I were on the same section of trail.  As we hiked up a small incline, I could see the tree I suggested above and the two white blazes now on the trunk.  They took my suggestion and they marked the exact tree I had invisioned.  And I felt proud!  We're talking about two 2" x 6" white paint rectangles.  And did I paint them?  No!  Someone else did the actual work, but still I was thrilled to have had a small part in effecting the Appalachian Trail.

Baby Grass
Sean and I have some dirt patches in the back yard.  Recently, I raked in some leftover grass seed.  This week, the little baby grass is poking up.   Every morning, I walk the dogs and look at those delicate wisps of green and I smile.  Again, I didn't do the actual work.  I didn't cultivate the seeds so they weren't desirable to birds.  And I didn't speed time breeding different species to come up with a grass that would grow in the murky shade of our backyard.  All I did was drop some seed, run a rake over it and spray it briefly with a hose.  Granted I did have to drag the hose back there, but even with that, the effort I expended does not justify the happiness and pride I have when I greet the baby grass in the morning.

So maybe there is something innate inside of us that predisposes to that kind of pride.  It would make sense, our ancestors for thousands and thousands of years have cultivated, domesticated and harvested.  I suppose those leanings still linger in our bloodstream. When we exercise them, it feels right.  And by doing something that feels right, comes pride.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to meet a very interesting Amish man by the name of Joe Mast.  He said a number of thought-provoking things during the visit.  One item comes to mind now:

Man came from the earth.  The closer to the ground he is, the better off he is.

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Great Uncle Chuck, Joe Mast, Pride.

Sign Vandalism Countdown to RATC Patch

8 Comments Add your own

  • […] are replaced.  New shelters emerge.  Or perhaps a new switchback blaze surfaces near Wind Rocks (what wise soul could have suggested that?).  I see hints of the trail being rerouted– a guide book note here, a covered blaze […]

    Reply
  • 2. Terry Lyon  |  August 19, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I am a retired engineer now an artist in Roanoke. My father (who died in 1981) was a pilot during WWI, I am 64 years old and have often wished to be able to get an old WWII pilot to see and use a video game of WWII planes. It is very realistic and wonder if your great uncle chuck would be intersted to see it and give it a try?

    I would be willing to pick him up and bring him back (if within a reasonable distance). Let me know if he has an interest. My cell phone is 3308344 if you want to call. Terry Lyon.

    Reply
  • 3. TGAW  |  August 19, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    @Terry-
    I’ll ask him. The lead time will be a couple of weeks as my primary means of communication with his is postal mail. He lives about an hour north of Pittsburgh, PA.

    Reply
  • 4. Clint  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    That’s a damn good idea and the best moments of should be compiled into a video. I always wanted to get my various grandparents on various new technologies — at least for a day — but it’s proven futile. (And then they die.)

    Reply
  • 5. TGAW  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Uncle Chuck may not like computers, but he has tried out new technologies. We have pictures of him with a Segway and pictures of him using a GPS.

    Reply
  • 6. Random Things About Me « TGAW  |  January 29, 2009 at 9:24 am

    […] in WWII and was an successful engineer, says the accomplishment he is most proud of is a bunch of pine trees he planted in the 50’s. “I made my own forest,” he said. I hope to one day follow in his […]

    Reply
  • 7. Introducing Sagan Charles « TGAW  |  July 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    […] every state in the union (including Hawaii four times and Alaska twice), it is Uncle Chuck’s favorite accomplishment in life that will stick with me. My first visit to Great Uncle Chuck’s farm, he took me to a section […]

    Reply
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