#SoCS – 5/26/18 – Appalachia: Memorial Day

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It’s Memorial Day weekend and that’s an important holiday in Appalachia. It’s a holiday that honors lost loved ones, whether they were lost in war or died of natural causes, in this region of the U.S. In Appalachia, it’s a weekend where families reunite, have large meals together, and decorate the graves of their deceased relatives with flowers. Across Appalachia, Memorial Day is most often called Decoration Day.

When I was growing up, and even now, the family would congregate where most of the relatives were buried. In my case, that was at my grandparent’s home in Magoffin County, Kentucky. Every nuclear family within the extended family would bring beautiful flowers to decorate each grave. Often, that would involve going to three or four cemeteries.

Memorial Day at the cemetery was also a social occasion. Families who seldom saw each other would have a chance to talk and catch up while decorating the graves.

After decorating the graves, everyone would go to my grandmother’s house for a large meal and a visit with each other afterward. It was one of the most important family holidays of the year.

We still honor our lost loved ones in Appalachia in much the same way. Families are smaller. There are fewer large family meals. Instead of meals in grandma’s kitchen, they are often prepared on the grill. You will still find people hunting flowers a few days before the Memorial Day weekend to decorate gravesites. They will still enjoy visiting with family and friends in the cemeteries. It’s getting more difficult to find children who know what “Decoration Day” really means and who it honors.

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The Plight of Honey Bees and the Effect on our World

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Time Magazine reports that if you take away the honey bees from pollinating the crops grown by farmers, 237 out of 453 food items will disappear from grocery store shelves. That is a shocking statistic. But, the demise of the honey bee doesn’t only affect food items. It is much more far-reaching than that.

Honey bees are dying off at an unprecedented rate. Parasites and disease in the hives, pesticides in the fields, stress, and poor weather are factors in killing the honey bee population. Business Insider reports that one-third of the world’s crops are dependent on the honey bee population for pollination. A world without honey bees is a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Without honey bees, we would not have leafy greens, broccoli, pumpkins, cucumbers, avocados, apples, cherries, blueberries, and almonds. The effect on almonds is particularly serious. Almonds are used for many things. The shells are often ground up and used for feed for cows. If cows don’t have the proper nutrients, they can’t produce milk which affects dairy products. Alfalfa will also perish, which will affect both beef and dairy cattle. There will be no milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream if we cannot provide feed for cattle. There will also be no beef.

Honey bees pollinate the oilseeds, like cotton seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Without them, more than half of the world’s supply of fat and oil would disappear. The lack of cotton would eliminate 35% of the world’s clothing and many household products.

Fortunately, staple grain products won’t be affected. Neither will pigs since they aren’t dependent on crops like alfalfa to eat.

If honey bees disappear, our diets will be devoid of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and beef. There may be some chicken and there will be fish near the coastlines. On a daily basis, how would you like your diet to consist of high fat pork and bread, plus some chicken and fish when you can get it?

Get involved in the movement to save the honey bees. Buy organic to encourage organic farming without pesticide use.

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Simplifying Life

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Have you ever found your life getting too messy? I don’t mean cluttered with stuff. I mean psychologically and emotionally messy. Cluttered with unwanted emotions inside your head caused by either events in your own life or events in the life of others close to you, perhaps friends, family members, even the world at large. When that happens to me, and it has a number of times in my life, I find I have to take inventory about what I need and don’t need in my life to make me happy.

When this happens to me, I don’t always recognize it initially. I have to find myself under so much stress that I can hardly cope. Once that happens, I make a priority list. The first item on my list is health. I have to eliminate the sources of stress in my life, at least to the extent that I can. I find that I, personally, can’t be subject to over-stimulation. I have to lead a fairly quiet life to be happy. I don’t have to be a hermit – far from it. But, I have to have the time and space to quiet my mind and emotions to keep my health on an even keel. Sometimes, I have to be pretty brutal and distance myself from situations that are causing stress in my life.

The second item on my priority list is the truth of reality. I have to live in the real world. My friends often tell me to be optimistic and that is a nice sentiment. I think I am usually optimistic, maybe too much so. I prefer to be realistic. You can have hopes and dreams and still be realistic. You can strive to make your hopes and dreams come true and I did that with regard to my own career. However, I knew it was not realistic to strive to be the Queen of England. That’s an extreme example. I’ve found if I keep it real, I’m far happier than if I put myself under stress trying to make the impossible happen or be someone I’m not.

The third priority on my list is love. Realize that you can’t make people love you. Let’s take families. Not every person in your family is going to love you. That’s realistic. Nothing you do or don’t do is going to make them love you. At some point, it’s time to quit trying. The same is true for relationships with a significant other or with friends. You can work hard at a relationship and sometimes it will turn out well and sometimes it won’t. You have to learn to compromise. But, you can’t make them love you. You have to know when to let them go.

My priority list works for me. What’s yours?