Today is a day that reminds us who precious things are that are transient, and how we should appreciate what we have while we have it.Image
My family is saying goodbye to our beloved Tessa today, after only ten years of Golden love.  Not enough time, but all God sees fit for us to have her with us.
That doesn’t mean we’ll be without her, just without her wagging tail, soulful eyes and boundless love playing, and us.  But having said good bye to too many
loved ones recently, it makes it all the more important to hold on to what we have.
More than two decades ago I undertook a project to interview all the farmers that I could find that remember working their farms by horse, like
my father did.  I wasn’t able to travel, so I wasn’t very successful, but I did get a handwritten plea from Iowa saying “Please, come out here and talk to these guys, while
we still have them.”  Those men had the knowledge that was very much in danger of being lost – the leatherwork, the horse care, and the sense of teamwork that is involved with working a team of horses.  Thankfully the knowledge is maintained in the minds of others, but do you know where to find them?
Working on the North Country Sustainability Center I have been so pleased by the number of people who want to learn skill such as soapmaking, keeping livestock, sewing, cooking, and basic woodworking skills. But I worry that so many of our seniors feel unable to teach what they know, because they feel no one cares, that they are obsolete.  Remembering my own mother, I kick myself for all those things that I didn’t ask about, and those times when I didn’t listen as well as I should have.
When people find something that they are passionate about, they find people who share that interest.  But they have to be exposed to it usually, before they develop that level of interest.  Creating a place, like NCSC, where people will know they CAN go to find that information, makes it more accessible to everyone. This raises hope for everyone who learns about us, and can plan on a trip to the region to learn what they want to learn.
While we think about losing loved ones and knowledge, we often overlook the very technology and history that can teach us so much.  In Ashburnham alone we have the chance to revive a mill pond, and use modern and historic technology to create a power supply for a performing arts center.  The invention of the turbine was developed in the 1800’s, as far as industrial production, but has been refined currently to make use of small water drops.  With all the mill ponds around the country, and the hazards that they’ve become, wouldn’t be a great thing to have them valued for more than a photograph?
That old mill is constructed with some vintage techniques, timber farming, turn buckles and master brick work.  It has held up as long as it has because of that craftsmanship, and was built
by conserving the use materials because they were so hard to obtain. That is the very same mindset that we need moving forward – conserving resources, making the most of our time, and planning for
prolonged use.  The old pulleys are still there that once carried the power from the water wheel to the work floors. While we can do the same thing with electricity, it is a great lesson in ingenuity to
see how it was done.
These old buildings, and the site that they site on, are an opportunity that may be short lived, just as our Tessa is, and each of us is. We need to make the most of the time that we have on this
planet, for ourselves, for our loved ones and for our community.  This is a great opportunity to give people a place to go to learn the skills they want, and to show that we can build a future with the wealth of the
past, both in human knowledge and in historic resources.  We can’t let this chance pass by. We are on the way to a new world.  Let NCSC be one of the planks on that road, and we can build it on things that have lasted the test of time.