In the early days, it didn’t show much because as a kid I was really active, swimming and wandering in the woods and building houses and gardens – things you do when you live three miles from a town small enough that it’s three miles from the post office to the nearest house outside town.
Some people started their year with the Sears Big Book – four inches of dreams on bright glossy paper, everything from shoes to guitars to hunting rifles to, if one was a young boy, girls. The girls were not for sale, but a young lad could dream of meeting one, couldn’t he?
Mom lived for the Burpee seed catalog. Every spring she would order seeds, some for flowers, but most for the winter dinner table: peas, pole beans, corn and beets. She was heavy into putting up winter supplies for Dad and the four of us kids.
Dad bought a rototiller from the Western Auto where he worked. The first and last time he had his hand on it was when he brought it home, unloaded it from the 1958 Pontiac Chief station wagon and showed Mom how to start it. On the other hand, he loved to take his buddies on a tour of the garden. “I run through it with the tiller and my boys follow behind and pick out the rocks,” he would tell his friends.
I would never accuse my dad of uttering an untruth and, anyway, the part about the rocks was unvarnished Bible-quality accurate. We built a pile of stones alongside the garden almost as high as the Great Wall of China.
I did not care for gardening – at least not the rock-picking part – but I loved to eat. Dad got after me for being an over-hearty eater. I was going to have trouble with that, said the former Marine at the head of our dinner table – the end opposite Mom, who had the end closest the kitchen.
On the way to the airport and the plane that would take me to U.S. Navy boot camp, he advised me to not worry about my weight; if I was too heavy, the Navy would take it off, too light and the Navy would put it on. I entered boot camp at 181 pounds, graduated at 183, and within a year I was up to 240, where I stayed for 20 years of Navy and about 15 years thereafter. (Then came a heart attack and a 20-pound weight gain in cardiac rehab.)
During my career as a sailor, my evaluations noted my allegedly excess rotundity. I tried every diet I could find. I exercised. I walked many miles in many countries, all to no avail. I always found enough vittles to balance any loss.
Someone once observed that salads were a good idea, but I needed to do something about my use of them as a bed for bleu cheese dressing. (I, on the other hand, firmly believe nothing can’t be made better with cheese – sharp cheddar or bleu, depending.
I thought of all this while reading about a 600-mile pipeline being built to carry natural gas from West Virginia nearly into South Carolina. Some folks think when they’ve done one thing, that’s all there is. They think planting solar and wind energy farms will take care of climate warming, even while we are busy building natural gas pipelines and selling trainloads of coal to export markets. I disagree.
You don’t lose weight eating salad. You have to cut back on the potatoes and gravy, too.
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