ZANN’S PLACE: The Pioneer Spirit Lives!

They say that adversity builds character, but past events might beg the question of how much character does one individual need?

I live on my family farm in what is still considered “the country” and take a great deal of pride in my independence. Raised with a can-do attitude that coupled with a philosophy of frugality at times stretched to the point of ridiculous, has been a very handy asset.

The founding fathers and mothers survived on ingenuity and perseverance. Not so long ago front-porch stories regaled to the younger generations these attributes.

The stories are great but there is little substitute for experience itself. By no means would I recommend the destruction of property or the shutting off of your water or heat supply to fabricate a test of abilities. Yet, such an incident is an excellent test of one’s level of self -reliance.

Sometime ago, there was a most regrettable event when my basement-a glorified name for what is an enlarged root cellar-flooded due to my negligence. Earlier I had discovered a leaky regulator valve. I ordered the part but waited too long to make the repair: the result was a burned out motor. To make matters worse this all occurred on a Friday afternoon.

The furnace provides heat and hot water and it was immediately obvious that I didn’t have either. The reason was not confirmed until the expert technician arrived on Monday afternoon.

By today’s standards the working conditions were dismal. Nonetheless, the young man didn’t complain about having to crawl to get to the furnace.

I felt almost apologetic when I told him that I had been without heat and water since Friday. I explained that I kept a fire going in the den and had ample blankets for nighttime, but I am certain that he questioned my mental stability for not moving to a hotel.

Oh, well, in the true spirit of pioneers, this is my home and I hate to abandon it in hard times.

I often think about what Rev. Silas Bruce, the former resident during the 1800’s, would have done. No doubt he prayed a lot then proceeded to figure it out!

Cultivating creative solutions to life’s dilemmas requires a proper attitude and the application of ample time to consider the issue unhampered by the pressure for an immediate fix.

I remember the summer that a crawfish bore a hole in the bottom of our spring-fed water system. The six weeks without running water was a dream come true for us kids. The “fix” required blasting a new hole through bedrock, setting a new holding tank with new pipes to the pump. Dad established an ample supply of water for cooking and flushing and bathing took place in the pond. I have no idea why it took so long, but it became a part of our life for the time being.

The experience paid dividends: in February of 1977 while seven months pregnant with my first child, Culpeper’s temperatures plunged into the teens and would not see a thaw for 30 days.

We called the plumber who thawed the water pipes right away. When they froze again by nightfall, we accepted our fate. We were lucky; we had heat and electricity!

Maybe a little bit of that pioneer spirit still exists.

Until next week, be well.

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