February was full of family gatherings, field trips, and travel. We ventured to various historical places in Florida and spent time in Ohio with Silver Oak’s family. We learned many history lessons, topped off by listening to G.A. Henty’s With Lee in Virginia as we drove through that very state.
Meanwhile, back on our little homestead our new fireplace has kept our deck cozy! I’ll be sad to see cold weather go. Starlet, our younger cat, likes the fireplace too. She sleeps on the warm hearth and takes over my lap when I sit nearby writing blogposts (not often these days) or grading schoolwork. Most of my extended family was here for brunch one day and the fire made it quite comfy. I love it! Our deck continues to be a great blessing.
A highlight in February was visiting the Heritage Festival in central Florida with my 98-year-old grandpa. The best part was seeing the old two-room schoolhouse in which he attended school when he was 12 and 13. It was moved a few years ago from its original location to the historical Crowley Museum where they are restoring it. What fun taking pictures and chatting with others who were tickled to see a live person who had actually attended school there.
It is so neat to ask questions and learn from my grandpa how things were in the “old days.” We and our children are grateful for the priceless treasure of having him still with us. He tells how his family used to travel from OH to FL every year and back again, on dirt roads that went over the mountains rather than through them. Amazing!
One day my parents took my entire extended family to visit the historic Edison home in Ft. Myers. How interesting to see some of the first light bulbs, and many other inventions that changed our world. We owe a lot to Edison. It made us reflect on lifestyle changes these inventions brought about, including the industrial revolution which encouraged fathers and mothers to work outside the home rather than raise families on their homestead. Any wonder why the current generation is out of touch with reality (where does butter come from?) and the family unit fractured? We’re thankful for lights at the flip of a switch, but our complete dependency on them may be a handicap. Some things to ponder.
On the other hand, if Edison would have grown up in today’s society we probably would have never heard of him. Back then he was kicked out of school and home educated most of his growing up years because his teachers claimed he was impossible. Today he would most likely be placed on Ritalin or some other mind-altering drug to keep him under control, most likely inhibiting his ability to invent (that is, if he escaped the horrors of abortion to begin with, being the seventh child).
Next to Edison’s home is the estate of his friend Henry Ford, which we also toured. As we admired one of his early motor vehicles parked in the garage, we noticed much of it was made of varnished wood. We learned that they used to ship the basic steel frame and motor in wooden crates, then the buyer would use the wood of the crate to finish it like he wanted! Nothing went to waste.
That made us feel a bit of camaraderie with the folks back then, as we are among the wooden pallet gatherers of our day. As I write there is a big pile of large heavy-duty pallets sitting on our property, waiting to be jigsawed apart and the lumber repurposed for many projects around here.
Before the days of air conditioning, both Edison’s and Ford’s homes were constructed to be as cool as possible in the summer. Built on the edge of a very large river, breezes flow much of the time. There are breezeways between bedrooms and living areas and kitchens, and lots of windows and doors on all sides, surrounded by covered porches blocking direct sun.
Modern homes here in Florida will suffer greatly from heat if the grid ever fails because they are dependent on air conditioning to be livable. Even if off the grid we produce enough power for air conditioners, we will be in miserable trouble if one day they cease to work for whatever reason, unless we build our living area with that in mind.
One very sad note was that Edison’s intense desire to invent kept him preoccupied in the lab so much that his wife and children rarely saw him. One of his sons became an alcoholic, hardly knowing his father. Tragically, God did not seem to be part of his life. It’s a reminder that the only things worth living for are the things worth dying for. If we work our tails off only building our temporary earthly homesteads and preparing only for this life, we may miss out on relationships with our precious children and even our final destination in the presence of Jesus! That would be most tragic, indeed!