Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A time to every purpose under Heaven

I had so many possible titles for this post - "Make hay while the sun shines," or "Semper Gumby" (always flexible) were the other top choices. But I figured, hey, an awesome classic song could only make things more fun - and I'll never turn down a chance to quote Scripture. To wit:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 -King James Version

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Yeah, ok, so what?

This goes back to my menu planning ideas - it's really, really helpful to have a plan, to know what you're going to do and when. And, at the same time, it's also really useful to plan to be flexible rather than rigid, so that when things come up (and when don't they?) you can accommodate the disruptions. If you refer back to your Laura Ingalls Wilder, you'll see that her Ma taught her the classic scheduling mnemonic -
"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday."

It's incredibly liberating to know what to expect when. Now, I don't follow the traditional schedule - but I do check the weather every morning, so that I know whether and when to plan to do the laundry. This week, I washed clothes yesterday, and won't do so again until Thursday, due to rain in the forecast in between. It's especially tricky in spring and fall, when days are short and cooler, since I often need two days on the line to get everything dry.

In my regular weekly schedule, I should be heading over to Northampton this morning to get my allergy shots, and to run any errands I need done while I'm out. However, my eldest wasn't feeling well last night, and is still asleep this morning, despite the other three getting off to school and intermittent barking from the puppy. He's been asleep 13 hours already, so he must need the rest. I hope he's just tired, and not actually coming down with the flu, which I was thinking last night. I have a back-up plan, though - if I can't get over for my allergy shots today, I can go on Friday morning.

Having flexibility is useful in other ways, too. Say you've got a garden, and you've got regular times scheduled to tend it. (if you do, I commend you - with a bit of envy!) Then let's say that there's a frost forecast for tomorrow night. If you're so rigidly scheduled that there's no 'give,' you might not be able to get out into that garden to bring in whatever's ripe or almost ripe, or to cover your tomato plants and that row of green beans.

The saying "Make hay while the sun shines" really sums up what I'm trying to say here. By all means, you should be planning to make hay - but when the forecast shows you three or four sunny days in a row, be flexible enough to be able to use that window of opportunity to make the hay.

This relates to thrift in so many ways... it's about canning extra tomato sauce when you happen upon a cheap source of extra tomatoes. It's about making time to go pick up a dozen free laying hens. It's about staying late at work if a chance for overtime comes up. And it's about having a backup plan for when things go awry - like my allergy shots being postponed due to my son's illness. See, thrift isn't only about money. It's a way of life, of making the most out of what you have.

[digression: I think this is a large part of the failure of the 'austerity measures' in Europe at present. Imposed thrift, without the internal attitude I hope we all share, can't succeed - it doesn't feel like thrift (a choice) but like privation (imposed from without). God bless our European brothers and sisters who are struggling, and may we plan ahead well enough to be spared that pain!]

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