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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



This is one of those columns that took a long time to form itself into a story to write, but let me take you back to last winter and the discussion with my broom-making friend Shannon about the old way of cooking and canning. She and I both like to ponder that period of life in Iowa between the first years of the 1900s and into the mid-40s or what I’ve always considered to be the horse farming era.

More specifically we like to kick around the work that happened in kitchens that kept farm families alive through the hard winter months and fed the large families that were necessary for the work force during prime crop months. The garden was an important focal part of any farm and much time was spent weeding and tending to the crops during the growing season because those items were essential to overwintering. In the days before freezer’s produce was canned or prepared for overwintering in some other matter.

One way of preservation was turning cabbage into sour kraut. This was accomplished by first slicing the cabbage using a kraut cutter which is somewhat like a mandolin but had a box which slid back and forth to hold the cabbage and keep fingers away from the cutting blades. Once that was finished the cut cabbage was put into stoneware crocks and with some liquid and spicing was covered and left to ferment for days. This required removing liquid and repacking every so many days and was not an easy task, but one that I’m glad was handed down so today I can enjoy a big glob of kraut on my bratwurst.

Shannon had offered to make some homemade kraut but said to me that without a kraut cutter we really couldn’t do the job properly to the early farming standards. So I sat out asking around and searching for a kraut cutter. I had finally given up and thought I’d just move on with life, much as I have with dating, when one crisp September morning happened to line together to remind me of just what a sense of humor God really has.

I had reconnected with Jess only a few months ago, a friend from high school days who I remember as a funny quiet combat boot wearing girl, who was pretty but lived life on her own terms. After living here and there including a stint in Atlanta, the planets aligned and with a horrible failed relationship in her review mirror she returned home to start new. We had chatted over the course of a couple of months, even trying to meet up for coffee one night but the shop was closed, which shows that small town Iowa needs something other than a bar open after 5 p.m.

It was a no brainer last week when she asked if I was going to the swap meet in Waukee this weekend and offered to take her along. So we set out Saturday morning with Jess’ daughter and my middle child in tow to chaperone our adventure out and about the booths of treasures and junk. Now if any of you haven’t attended a meet before, it is basically a small town garage sale with a few food vendors, some junk pickers and a bit of crafty artisans thrown in.

It wasn’t long until Jess’ daughter spied an antique Kodak tourist camera which was in excellent shape and still in the original box. While they were discussing the purchase with the booth owner I had wandered to the other end of the booth when I looked up on the corner shelf and saw it in all its’ glory. I almost heard the angels put out a chorus and am sure the sky opened up with a giant ray of light from heaven shown down right into the corner of the booth where stood the object of my long search. There in pristine antique shape, stood a kraut cutter.

I tried to curb my enthusiasm as I inquired about the cost of the junky piece of Americana, and agreed on a price much under the sticker price. A picture and a few text messages later and I could almost taste next summer’s first batch of homemade kraut, with a touch of mustard sitting on the steaming surface of a grilled brat.

Over the rest of the morning, Jess and I and the girls found a few other treasures that we felt needed rescued and even thought that this was an adventure that we should do again sometime. As I’ve said before God sometimes makes us mad or frustrated or even question what his timeline is, but then there are days like Saturday when He reminds us that there is a plan and we just have to “Be Still” and let him take the time to get us to the point where He wants us to be. Much like the search for the kraut cutter and finding someone who I enjoyed spending time with, both would eventually happen although it wasn’t really up to me to decide the timing of finding either. The lesson isn’t lost on me at, for in that crisp morning I was reminded just how much fun life can be when we let God take the driver’s seat. I can only imagine what will happen this weekend as we venture out in search of a new adventure.

See you next week…Remember, we’re all in this together.