It’s been raining silverware at my house lately. One can barely go from swather to tractor without being bombarded by forks and butter knives — although the spoons seem surprisingly absent. But before you start worrying about reinforcing your umbrellas, the sky isn’t really throwing down a 16-place setting of Oneida.
Ever hear of the spoon theory? It basically says that each person wakes up with a limited number of spoons, representing energy, that are consumed by activities throughout the day. Each activity uses up your spoons and when they are gone, so is your ability to keep up with the demands of life.
The fork theory comes from the phrase “stick a fork in me; I’m done.” This theory says that everyone is stuck with forks, large and small, all day — and sometimes they reach their limit. Everyone has a fork limit, and when that limit is reached, the person either falls apart or retreats from the fray.
The forks haven’t all been huge affairs — although some have been pretty horrific — but they all add up to a state of tender exhaustion. This is not an unusual state to be in mid-summer for farmers and ranchers — it’s just one of the less fun realities with our chosen profession. It’s the harobed that seems to have gremlins that come out at night, it’s the rain on nearly dry hay, its the goat that chronically gets her head stuck in the fence, its nearly rolling your swather down the hill and your favorite pair of boots that finally wear out. Nothing big. Nothing unusual — just a lot of little forks.
Although some of the forks stab a little deeper. Like finding one of the triplets of our mini-goat with a cold mouth. Warm baths, warm towels and a box near our bed, and within a couple days she was up. Then came scours. She combated that like a champ with an old home remedy using buttermilk and baking cocoa. Eventually she was back in the barn with her mom — only to be killed when a piece of plywood fell on her. That fork brought tears.
I used to take those metaphorical forks and use them to dig holes in which to bury garden seeds. I’d tell people that way I could bury my problems and eat them later — but over the years my garden has grown into the acre-size range. I need a new way to deal with forks.
As we head deeper into harvest season, our days are longer, our nights almost non-existent and our number of spoons each morning seems to decrease almost inversely proportional to our workload. Which means that at this rate we should be walking zombies by the end of the month — if it weren’t for the knives.
I have come up with my own butter-knife hypothesis. Butter knives are used to spread butter or jam, honey or Nutella — things that are deliciously sweet and cover an object with delightful goodness. They provide salve to the fork wounds, and increase the reproductive life of spoons. And this month, while the forks were bombarding us, the knives seemed to ramp it up also.
My Flower Fairy (neighbor) dropped off an unexpected bouquet of her farm-fresh flowers on her way to market. Another friend dropped off a bottle of hair conditioner for my tangled summer tresses — simply because she’d seen me struggle to get a brush through my hair after a long day in the wind. Another friend invited me on a kayak adventure, and friends have provided my family meals the last several Saturdays, knowing our summers are so busy we don’t spend much time cooking. Knives have also come in the form of dishes done by my 4-year-old, laundry done by my 11-year-old, a generous gift card from my boss and a couple of letters from dear friends.
You’ll never put a better bit of butter on your knife than that of a kind or thoughtful gesture to a family member, friend or neighbor. I challenge you to take a stab at it this month. Smother someone’s fork wounds with a little Nutella kindness. One never knows how many spoons a person has left for the day, or how many forks they’ve been stuck with — but you have an unlimited aresnal of knives at your disposal. Even if it’s a bit out of your comfort zone — just remember, the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, but he also accepteth from a grouch!