Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
I look around at the bare winter woods and soak it in.
A few big red oaks that dodged the loggers from a few years ago. Shagbark hickories and tall Ash trees sway in the December breeze. The deep, earthy aroma of the forest. The songbirds, the squirrels, the crows and Canada geese flying overhead. I take a deep breath and look towards the sky, thankful to live where I do and to have been raised in a small town.
I’m here to hunt deer, but my mind keeps racing.
I think about the holidays and the new year to come and how the past year has went. I think about my family and loved ones, but mostly, I’m thinking about our country and its future. I worry for my kids and all the “millennials” and can’t help but wonder what went wrong.
As the cool wind blows in my face and my cheeks burn with the dropping temperature, I think about how different our America is from what’s portrayed on the evening news. How did we collectively lose our way? “How can middle America be so different than the coasts”, I ask myself…
Things don’t change too quickly around here, but they do change.
Sometimes change can be good, but other times, it’s disaster. I’m grateful that we change slowly around here. That we hang on to our past, to our history and traditions. I can’t help but believe that just a generation or two ago, the thoughts and values of rural folks weren’t that different than those in more urban areas and inner cities.
How have we gotten to this point? More importantly, how do we get back to what we as a nation once were? Can we even get back? I think about my own childhood and the upbringing my sisters had; the upbringing my cousins and friends had; and I’m profoundly thankful to have been brought up in rural America.
Country, rural, hillbilly, redneck or middle-class doesn’t equate to ignorant, stupid, uneducated or misinformed like the media seems to think. From the standpoint of people on either coast or folks from major metropolitan areas, we live in what’s known as “fly over” country and that’s fine with me. I tend to think that rural, middle America is a better place to live and for the most part, we’ve hung on to our values and stuck to our ideas of what this country was founded on.
If we want America to hang on, to be what we remember growing up, to be what our parents and grandparents fought so hard for, we can’t just give in, we can’t forget how great this country is. We can’t forget the contributions that the good, decent, honest hardworking “rural” people make and have made. The things that make the Midwest a great place, the traditions we keep. Things passed down, keeping memories alive, heritage.
It’s work ethic.
It’s blue collar.
It’s farming and knowing how to stack hay or house tobacco.
It’s baiting your own hook and learning how to walk through the woods with you dad, uncle or grandpa.
It’s FFA and 4-H.
It’s Sunday dinners after church at grandma’s house. It’s Friday night basketball games. It’s respecting our neighbors and our elders. It’s all these kinds of things that make rural, country, America great and if we could just impart some of these things to the urban areas, maybe, just maybe our evening news stories would be a little nicer.
Now to see if I can find just one more deer.
– David Hewitt