It is hard to believe

It is hard to believe that I have been writing this column for twenty-four years. That means that I have produced 2451 columns to date. If you do the math you will discover that I subtracted one because one column encored when my husband was in Cleveland and I did not get home. That means that those of you who have followed me all of these years have read that many columns.

If you are a newer reader you have not read as many of them. I have written about anything and everything. Years ago, the editor of one of the papers told me that I had as many male readers as I do female readers so to be sure my columns appeal to both sexes. I have always kept that in mind varying what I write about.

Some columns repeat some of the facts about my life and my life on the farm, but all of them have a fresh aspect to them. What do I mean by this? I mean that I have written about haying many times but each and every time there were different things included.

When I go out to speak to groups I am always asked, “How do you figure out what to write about?” I read a lot -that provides some of my inspiration. I also see things on television or over the internet. Sometimes things just happen in my life that I want to write about.

Travel provides another inspiration for writing. Through the years I have written about the many trips that I have been on. Some of them were extended trips while others were only short ones. I really enjoy traveling. One of my favorite trips was to Hawaii. I loved what the islands had to offer. I saw so many things that I think I wrote at least three articles from that trip. I also enjoyed my trip to Alaska. I note here that if you are traveling to Alaska for the first time be sure to travel on land and on sea because you see so many different things that way. I also produced a number of articles about that trip.

Then, there were the numerous trips into Amish country. We visited Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana communities. Each was different. While in Indiana we took a buggy ride. As it turned out the driver had been to the Warren County Fair with his horses. He took his horse all over the country. We had a nice visit since I knew many of the horse people that he also knew. He knew the man from near Spartansburg that harvested his maple sap with horses. I had been to that farm during a tour with maple producers who toured this area. That trip was particularly fun because it was a blessing to hear others praise the sights we have around here.

I have written about my home. We poured a whole lot of love into this place that I call home. My husband and I took things slowly fixing what needed to be fixed immediately and putting off those things that could wait. We did things as we could afford them – hence we waited a long time to have things the way we wanted them. We worked nights and weekends putting up plasterboard, stripping woodwork, and painting. It was not until after my husband died that I finished installing the vinyl siding.

The children and grandchildren have provided fodder for the column. I have always been a part of the grandchildren’s lives so I know them well. I know their likes and their dislikes. We have done all sorts of things together. When the grandchildren were small I watched each of them for one day a week. I have taken them shopping. I have attended various school functions. I have taken them to Chautauqua. We have gone out to eat. We have attended plays.

My life has been a simple one, yet people tell me that I have lived an interesting life. I think what makes it interesting is that we were able to have a lot of fun with our family doing very simple things and making short trips. Everything was fun when you only did it once in a while.

Life at Hickory Heights has indeed been interesting. I have lived here for nearly fifty years. I enjoyed the first chili dinner I fixed when everyone had to find their own spot to eat because we only had two chairs and a highchair. I enjoyed the canning I have done creating the wonderful smells that home canned products make. I enjoy making meals today that I gladly share with friends and my family.

Writing has been a godsend. I have loved the career I built through my writing. I have met so many wonderful people. When I was out creating the features, I listened with interest as others shared parts of their life with me. My column has earned me many faithful readers who follow me from week to week.

Even at Chautauqua I met people who read my column. As we stood in line one evening I realized that I had been to the farm of the people in front of us. We had a wonderful chat. He remembered that I had my grandson with me. I told him that young man was now a college sophomore.

I look at each day as an opportunity. God has given me a second chance at life. Following a diagnosis of cancer, I have been treated and am now cancer free. There has to be some reason that I am still here. After my husband died I turned to volunteerism to fill my time. That has been a wonderful opportunity to interact with people. Following the cancer diagnosis, I trained to become a hospice volunteer. That, too, has given me countless opportunities to minister to others. When you can do something that eases another’s burden in their darkest hour it is a blessing.

My writing career continues. I will find other things to share with you. I consider it a pleasure to share experiences with all of you. I look forward to anniversary, twenty-five.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at