Pretty dark down there, and cool even on the hottest days of summer.

Along the walls were makeshift shelves consisting of sagging boards supported by stacked bricks. The sagging was caused by the weight and large number of jars of fruits and vegetables that nourished our family through the long winter months.

Like her mother before her, Mom used the “cold pack” method of canning. By the time my bride and I adopted the tradition, a huge pressure cooker safely sealed jars of green beans and a host of other fruits and vegetables.

Dating the cans was deemed important. Generally there were jars in that dark basement that had been preserved for several years. I thought about those canned goods this week while much of the country seemed to be fretting over a fear of starving. Never mind that there is ample food and a highly efficient delivery system; the Chicken Little hoarders created their own panic.

We no longer can vegetables, simply because we no longer need the quantity we once did and they are readily available at nearby grocery stores. We don’t hoard toilet paper for the same reason. We buy the big packages with multiple rolls, simply to save trips to the store.

Our parents and their parents for generations understood the importance of conserving the blessings they were given. When I was gardening, like my mom, I planted far more than we could consume while it was fresh. We shared large portions of our ample garden, ate what we needed and either canned or froze the rest.

Raising a garden and making use of what we had available was something passed along on both sides of our family, in part because we had no money to squander.

The pandemic sweeping the globe these days clearly has almost everyone on edge ... and with good reason. One frightening aspect is that people are on edge because too many of them are willing to believe anything they hear, minus authentication. “I heard that” becomes “They say that ...” becomes a source for fear that sensible people should greet with skepticism. A few folks even suggested that shutting down the news media for the duration would solve the problem. Sure, then we would have to rely on what Bubba’s aunt’s neighbor heard .... Sheesh.

Folks have found humor in all this, not all of it constructive. Someone suggested that in a few weeks, we will learn what everyone’s true hair color is. Someone else suggested this regarding parents forced to be homeschoolers: Two students were expelled and the teacher is drunk.

But seriously, the upside (and there always is one) is that families have a chance to slow down and get to know one another. Have meals together. Learn new things. Teach the children some basic skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting time effectively.

It is a time when we recognize how vulnerable we are ... not only to a fast-spreading virus, but to an abandonment of common sense.

We are seeing also how technology, which has contributed much toward the downfall of civilization, can also be a means of linking people for good. Schools adapted quickly to develop virtual lesson plans and provide meals for students along bus routes. Helpful information about flattening the curve on the spreading virus was available to those willing to sort it out from all the foolishness that has spawned panic.

Our churches, while we can’t come together to share Christ’s peace with a handshake or a hug, can share God’s word and worship Him through the Internet. Times always change and we can adapt and survive. The key is to adapt for the good of all.

Be safe my friends.


Mr. Clinton retired as executive editor of The Messenger in 2011. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Lone Oak.

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