I have learned I still have a lot to learn, and often don’t even know what I don’t know.
Just so you know gentle reader, I am a native son.
I knew South Tama County was a beautiful place to live, long before I decided Labrador retrievers were the perfect dog for the timber. Their short coats and grooming abilities make short order of the seeds and various baggage any creature venturing into the summer woods attracts.
I knew it was beautiful here even before I learned that being at the southern terminus of a couple great glaciers carved the majestic hills and ravines which create the vertical variance in our terrain which make this place so beautiful.
I have learned that many people want to be your friend, when you have deer and turkey on your property, or standing dead trees.
There are many things which endure me to Tama County. There are also many things one must endure.
One has to be able to tolerate stinging nettles and mosquitoes if you wish to venture into the woods.
I have learned That Asian beetles are not the same as the more benign lady bug. A couple days last fall the hatches of these bugs seemed like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. We were invaded by the tens of thousands.
I have learned that well water in Tama County comes out of the ground coupled with hydrogen sulfide. I have also learned that the human nose can detect .005 part per million of hydrogen sulfide. I have learned I do have a good nose. I have also learned one can get used to well water.
I enjoy the sounds of frenzied coyotes in the night when they corner and capture some unwitting prey.
I have come to appreciate the sounds of owls as they seem to carry on an aural ping pong, back and forth, hooting in the night, from distant parts of the timber.
I forgot how majestic is the sight of soaring eagles, including the pair frequenting Gilly Hollow. Or that one unmistakable sound is the scream of a rabbit as one of the eagles captures him in her talons.
I love the sound of drumming turkeys.
I also love the sound of a cackling pheasant.
I have learned humming birds will get in your face to tell you you’ve forgotten to refill their feeding bottle with red nectar.
I find that lowing cattle as neighbors can be entertaining, but bellowing bulls are not. I have found that certain smart calves can find the smallest vulnerability in a fence, and they know the grass is always greener on my side.
I have learned that living on top of a hill almost guarantees a daily breeze.
I have learned that the love of a free ranging dog is deeper than the love of one destined to a chain or a fenced yard.
I have learned a collar on a dog is part of life in a civilized world. Yes, when you put a collar on a dog you declare he is a wanted pet. Someone owns this animal, loves this animal, and would like to have him back if he strays. Civilized people keep collars on civilized dogs.
I have learned orange juice in plastic bags is just as good as juice from hard plastic containers, and much cheaper. In fact, you can drink orange juice cheaper than pop.
I have learned kids now call sweatshirts “hoodies.”
I have learned kids don’t wear stocking caps either; now they wear “beanies.”
I have learned that a smile is the least expensive way to improve your looks.
I have learned when I smile at people they almost always smile back.
I have learned that you cannot make someone love you.
I have learned you can love someone and still not like them sometimes.
I have learned that your life can be changed in an instant by other people.
I have learned you can judge a persons character by the descriptive words they use.
I have learned the less my kids need me, the more I need them.
I have learned dogs and cats ALWAYS need me, and NEVER talk back.
I have learned you can’t keep making only right turns and expect to make it back home.
I have learned that envy is the enemy of happiness.
I have learned that money is a lousy way of keeping score.
I have learned it takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.
I have learned anticipation is often sweeter than the event.
I have learned you should never pay for a job until it is completed.
I have learned the worst drivers seem to follow me wherever I go.
I have learned my kid’s birthdays make me feel older than my own.
I have learned a dog will always go on a walk with you, even when nobody else will.
I have learned every great accomplishment was once considered impossible.
I have learned it is best to be liberal with praise and stingy with promises.
I have learned the bottom of the ladder must be firmly seated before you climb.
I have learned advanced degrees don’t bestow common sense.
I have learned the screwdriver I’m looking for is usually the only one missing.
I' have learned you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle these things: a broken down car, a hopelessly lost item and a tangled extension cord.
I have learned without a doubt that there are no unimportant acts of kindness.
Until next time--
You can read past columns by visiting tamatoledonews.com and clicking on the “Local Columns” button at the bottom of the page.
In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2011 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.