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By Pam Burke 

A tale told my way is the right way


September 20, 2013

Every family does it: trots out those favorite little anecdotes about loved ones to prove a variety of points from wise to weird, poignant to pointless. Sadly, my family is no different, and I am a favorite victim.

One of their favorites about me is about how “Pam, when she was just learning to walk — my gaawd, what a spectacle. She wouldn’t let anyone stand her up to help her walk. As soon as we’d ask her to take a step she’d fold up her legs and collapse. If we tried too much, then she’d start kicking like a frog and getting fussy. She wouldn’t even use the furniture to pull herself up. Nope. She’d crawl out to the middle of the floor and try and try and try to get up, and when she finally made it, she’d walk around out in the open area till she fell over. Then she’d do it all again.”

And the moral of the story is variously told as …

“Even then she did things the hard way.”

“Even then, she was stubborn.”

“Even then, she was odd.”

“Even then, she wouldn’t accept help.”

I get it. I do, but I always see the story from my perspective and think:

“Even then, I was willing to do what it took to get the job done right.”

“Even then, I was unwilling to compromise my principles.”

“Even then, I was odd … ly insistent about following my own, unique path.”

“Even then, I was independent.”

I just don’t see anything wrong with teaching oneself to walk in a manner that prepares one for the rigors of life, to follow a unique path, to stand up for oneself literally and figuratively. (I thought that way as a pre-toddler, too. I was very sophisticated for my age. I’m sure.)

I have brought up this little family tale to illustrate a point, a point in which I am immensely right. Of course.

My husband, John, and I were working at clearing another portion of our property of rocks, posts, weeds, the endless garbage remnants of the retired junkyard and the sagebrush, and therefore we were engaging in our usual discussion of the proper method of sagebrush removal.

While John and I are in complete agreement about getting rid of it, the how-to of doing it is always a matter of debate.

John always wants to farm it away, or use the forklift forks to dig it out. That’s all great and means I won't sweat, but farming it means fencing the little farmed areas for at least three years and intensive weed management, and the forklift leaves big divots in the ground. His solutions aren’t wrong, they just come with problems that aren’t acceptable in every situation.

I say that we need to remove the individual mature plants from the ground, then spray any new shoots back. It’s slow and labor-intensive but will disturb the least amount of ground and make soil and pasture-recovery time unnecessary.

He says work smarter, not harder. I say just because it’s harder, doesn’t make it not right. (I really need to come up with pithier sayings.)

He says I’m stubborn, and I say that it’s really funny that he always says that as he's resisting my ideas as hard as I am resisting his. (No. Do not pity him. I swear to you, sometimes I am nice. To him. And honestly, he got exactly what he deserved when he married me. Really.)

Of course, you can see where this is going, I was whaling away on the sagebrush, and some scrubby little chokecherry bushes, with a hammer (it's a technique — call me at the office or email me if you must know) and John tried digging some of the plants out with the forklift.

My removal sites looked pristine and noticeable only on close inspection, his looked like the area had been, well, ravaged by a rutting forklift.

He graciously conceded to my superior sagebrush eradication methods.

So basically I've been right since I was 1 year old.

Early self-training to be independent enough to stand by my principles and to follow my unique path, even when it means doing the hard thing to do the right thing, was the right spin on the old family tale of Pam.

And as the undisputed winner of the sagebrush debate, I win the right to clear roughly 1,000 mature clumps of gnarled sagebrush with nothing but my strong arms and a two-pound hammer.

I might actually consider some help, now.

(How is it that winning is a relative thing at http://viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)


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