Hay House publishes some very good books, many which deal with inspiration, self help, health, healing, and spirituality. It was started by Louise Hay, author of several works, two of which I still read ten years later: the Wisdom series.
Every month HH sends out a newsletter of upcoming books and articles. Villasenor’s caught my eye because I remember reading Rain of Gold and I can relate to its subject matter of the article: working in the fields and learning valuable lessons.
My mom was a migrant worker until she ‘promoted’ to the packing houses at age seventeen. By the time we were in our early teens she had gone back to school and received her AA degree and worked in an office. Mom took the four of us to pick walnuts on weekends and got us summer jobs in the strawberry fields “para que sepas” -we didn’t last a summer, not even a week, fortunately for both us kids and the foreman.
When I was nineteen I wanted a car, it was my Junior year at the university, and I had more loans than scholarships that year. My mom said she could get me a job at the packing house where she worked twenty five years earlier. She still had comadres there and my tia worked there. So I worked the graveyard shift in the Smucker’s plant.
By the end of the summer I hated the wet smell of strawberries, dirt, rubber gloves and Tabu perfume that the lady next to me wore because she had a crush on the foreman. I didn’t eat strawberries for years and I live in the capital of California strawberries. But the point is, we appreciate the things we achieve in the hard times, like Villasenor’s article attests to:
Beyond Rain of Gold: Tending Mother Earthby Victor Villaseñor
Learning to appreciate the little things . . .
When we finished working in the melon fields in the Imperial Valley, opposite the Mexican border city of Mexicali, my cousin Jose drove me home, and I gave my parents all the money I’d made, nearly $400. My dad cried and cried when he found out how I’d earned it.
“Mijito, mijito, it was always my dream that none of my kids would have to work in those hot fields like your mother and I did. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Papa, please don’t be sorry,” I said. “Having worked in the fields is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“But your mother and I worked and saved so our kids wouldn’t have to do that and you could get ahead.”
“Papa, please understand that I will never look at the cantaloupes in the grocery store the same way. My God, people just have no idea how much work it is to pick them in the boiling-hot sun. Once I almost passed out.”
“And it was because of lack of salt, wasn’t it?” he said with a smile.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“Did you know that we humans can’t live without salt? This is why we put out salt licks even for the horses and cattle. Salt is the basis of life, next to water.”
“No, I hadn’t realized that, Papa,” I said. “Then why are doctors always telling us to not salt our food?”
“That’s because we no longer walk ten miles to and from town every day. This is because we no longer take our livestock out to pasture, walking sometimes even farther. This is, as you’ve found out, because we no longer toil in the hot sun, bent over all day like dogs at a run to keep up with the trucks we are loading.”
“Exactly, Papa,” I said. “All day we were at a jog in the hot sun. Not for an hour or so, like joggers, but all day long, day after day. Nothing in my Army training or my high school and college wrestling was this tough.
You see, Papa, I can now see that something had always been missing in my writing, and also in my life. Sure, I’d worked real hard with our workers here on the ranch, but I hadn’t had to do it, and I can now see that this makes all the difference. It’s a whole other ballpark when what you do you have to do just to buy your food to eat. A rich, full life, Papa, I am now truly beginning to see, can never be lived with just wealth and safety. We need our hard times, too.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “it is only during our hard times, with the fear in our guts and the sweat on our backs, that we learn to appreciate even the smallest things of life.”