Monday, January 11, 2010

Agriculture and Industry

Agriculture and Industry- this is what both James and my families were made from.

Mine was grape growers in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Hundreds of acres of vineyards to make raisins or concentrate for wine. The structured vine rows, the warm sand between your feet, the dust, the smell of the earth, the heat of the sun. Now they've included almond trees. Oatmeal cookies, carrot salad, nutritious snacks, dinner or dessert wine, almond paste, almond butter, raw almonds, the list is endless really as to the uses of these crops. Planting, pruning, mending, fertilizing, watering, waiting and harvesting. Migrant workers to employ and manage, equipment to maintain and rent, schedules to follow, weather to watch, market prices to pray over. Will the rain destroy the crop, will the fertilizer burn the fruit, will the new vines take root?

James' was commercial salmon fishermen in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. Work came for about 6 months out of the year. Nets to be mended, boats to tend to, crews to set up and manage, trucks to maintain, clams to dig, agates to find, fishing traps to take care of. Silvers, sockeyes, pinks, clams, and the prize-- a King. Fillets, chowders, pies, canned. Small fishing village out of the way of nearly everything but sheer beauty. Salty fishermen, the clock dictates the catch. To the tenders to be weighed, to the canneries to be processed. Will the fish come this year, as it's all we have for the rest of the year. Paid annually after the season was over. How much can we scrimp and save and stretch?

These are the roots from which our families come, and our roots sink deep. But are they partially severed? Both have grandparents who made their entire livelihood from these trades. Both now have uncles who keep them going, but find work elsewhere too. America has been blessed with land that has fertile soil and can produce generous fruits, and vibrant waters that yield life-giving fish. Yet because of money and politics, those hard-working tradesman are losing their livelihood because corporations buy outside our country and the government regulates everything. But what of the next generation? Will my kids know the importance of these trades that helped raise them? Will the family farm and fishing sites last? Will our children ever understand the quite literally back-breaking hard work and sacrifice required to earn a living and provide for their families? Will they ever know the simple and slower pace of life that comes with working with your hands? Or, will they choose jobs that pay more, require less, aren't as inconvenient? Will they succumb to the society in which they're raised with an entitlement mentality and me first attitude? Please Lord no!! May the rich tradition of our families, not just in faith, but also in work-ethic and sacrifice be passed down to us and our children so that our roots will never be forgotten or wither off and die!!

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