My grandfather has filled those years with learning.
When he retired from farming, he decided to take up pottery. He bought himself a kiln and a potter’s wheel, and taught himself how to do it. After awhile he wanted to try something new, so he took up wood carving. The items he carved weren’t simple, basic shapes, but animals and people. He learned what kinds of wood worked best and how to look at the wood and see its potential. Many carvings later, he decided to look into building bird houses and butterfly houses. He confided to me that people would actually pay up to fifty dollars for one of the butterfly houses and smirked as he said that that gave him enough money to get the materials for two or three more.
He wondered what it was like to tap maple trees and get syrup. He tired that and was successful. The next year he decided to try it with poplar trees, which are much more plentiful in our area. This, too, was successful. Growing giant pumpkins, raising fish, gardening — all things he has learned to do since his “retirement”.
A few years ago, when he was already in his nineties, he asked for and received a spinning wheel for Christmas. He got some wool from one of his grandchildren who raises sheep, and taught himself how to card it and spin it into yarn. Then, he needed something to do with the yarn, so he learned how to knit.
At his birthday party last night, I asked him what he would like to do next. “Paint”, was his response.
I think his interest in learning is part of the secret of his longevity. What an example of a life-long learner for all of his many, many descendents.
Happy birthday, Grandpa! I can’t wait for your 100th next year.