Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

I grew up in a small town in upstate NY. It was on the border of NY and PA in the Catskill Mountains. It was perfect in every single way. We lived on a farm and had our own pond that we skated on in the winter and fished in the summer. We had all kinds of animals and our own vegetable garden. We didn't have the best clothes, or the best toys, but we had our pets, and we grew our own vegetables, and we played outside all the time, roaming all over our 23 acres.

We would find apple trees and pick the apples right off and eat them. We would climb the highest hills and stare off into the valleys below. The most beautiful memory that I have is of climbing a steep hill through the woods during a rare sunshower - where it is drizzling, but the sun is out. We reached the top of the hill where the woods cleared and looked down into a deep valley. There, stretching from the top of the sky to deep in the valley was the most beautiful brilliant rainbow. The end of the rainbow rested on a little white house some 30 miles away.

The town itself was adorable. It was located on a tributary of the Delaware River and was at one time, a railroad town. The tracks ran right through the middle. Almost every building was historical, having been built no later than the 1930s.

Such an ideal town attracts ideological people. Most were the intellectual On Walden Pond types, but with a little bit of Harvard thrown in. My father was one of them. He never graduated college, but he was, without a doubt, a genius. He could hold his own with anyone, from intellectuals, to farmers, to the school janitor. He was just that type of person. My mom on the other hand, was a sweet Indiana lady. She wasn't stupid, but you definitely wouldn't mistake her for an intellectual.

My parents as well as most of the others, loved to discuss the education of their children. Everyone was very keen on giving their children the best they could in terms of education, and many different theories were floated as to how to achieve this goal. I remember one friend of the family who was a Harvard grad, who had made up her mind that there was far too much order in the world of education. She was the type who preferred unconventionality to mundane order, even if it was impractical. She proudly told my mother that she was not going to teach her son the alphabet in the conventional order. There was no reason for the order, she said, except to force children to conform. My mom looked puzzled. And then the sweet, dumb little Indiana lady asked, "But how is he going to look things up in the Encyclopedia?"

Live humbly, and you will never be humiliated.

2 comments:

Katrina said...

Hahaha! That was great, Zelda.

Angi said...

Gooooo Mom!

The highest horses to give the hardest falls!