“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting system through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only tune in.” —George Washington Carver
I learned to read at Poage Elementary School in Ashland. The library was located in the front of the school, as all school libraries should be. Across the wall in that library were biographies of great Americans. I think I read most of them because, though they were short, they were really good. In fact, most libraries across the country had them on their shelves.
Abraham Lincoln and George Washington Carver. Carver was an African American whose experiments led to more than 300 products generated by a simple peanut. While he showed great promise as an artist, he decided to study agriculture. He received both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Iowa State University.
In 1896, Carver moved to join the faculty of Tuskegee University in Alabama. He spent much of his life teaching more productive agricultural practices to southern farmers, both black and white. He traveled to promote peanuts and, in the 1920s, he worked tirelessly to improve race relations. Carver never married, and in 1940, three years before his death, he left his life savings of $33,000 to establish the George Washington Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee University.
While Carver was known for his peanut research, little did I know that he was a prolific writer. Recently, I was reading my daily devotional that contained the follow quote of his: “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting system through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only tune in.”
Carver’s quote made me stop and think. First of all, we all go at warp speed each day. We check our email, we drive too fast (especially on Colby Road and Todds Road), we talk too much. We don’t eat right and we eat too much (me included). We don’t listen to sounds, we listen to noise. We look but we don’t see. We don’t notice what is around us because we are constantly looking ahead. We spend too much but still want more. We get rid of junk but buy more to replace what we got rid of in the first place.
Retirement is a funny thing. It teaches you many lessons. I worked all my life to do what I wanted to do when I grew up. I have learned that children really do still make me happy, and I am happiest when I am around them. I have learned that I still love khaki. I have learned that being in the kitchen, cooking good food and eating every calorie, is great therapy for me. I have learned that books still feed a hunger that a Nook can’t. I have learned that lightning and thunder still scare me some, but the sound and smell of rain calms that fear. I have learned that a good glass of wine, fresh vegetables and a slight breeze can cure just about anything.
I have learned that God speaks in the mockingbird I watch feed her young, in the flowers blooming in my yard, in the rustle of the leaves in the trees. I have learned that people work all their lives to become somebody when they are already somebody to their children and spouses. Most importantly, I have learned that happiness cannot be bought, that it is in the eyes of my students at St. Agatha, in the people I meet as I walk downtown to Court Street, and in the plants, trees and vegetables at Beech Springs. I have learned that retirement is just the beginning — and that small still voice lets me know that every day — if I tune in.
Winchester City Commissioner Shannon Cox is not only a commissioner but also an excellent cook. I taught with Shannon at Conkwright Middle School and George Rogers Clark High School, and we often shared recipes. He undoubtedly makes the best microwave peanut butter fudge, but I have misplaced the recipe. The other day I saw him in Kroger, and he gave me another quick recipe for a refreshing summer salad. I hope he will send me the peanut butter fudge recipe again.
1 green pepper finely chopped
1 red pepper finely chopped
1 cucumber finely chopped
Celery (about 2 stalks) finely chopped
One-half (½) container grape tomatoes finely chopped
Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste. Shannon said he added some Italian dressing, but I mixed mine with a small container of light cottage cheese, which he also recommended. I also added a yellow squash, finely chopped.