By Matt Reese
As I write this I’m listening to the cold January wind whistle in around one of the last couple of old windows in my old farmhouse. Most of the windows in the house have been replaced, but this one has not, for a couple of reasons.
Foremost, the picture window is the largest in the house and the most expensive to replace. And, well, I have been raised by generations of frugal farmers trained to make do with what you’ve already got (my grandfather was known to wear 30-year-old dress pants patched with strips of duct tape rather than purchase new farm work pants).
There is also some sentimentality with the old window not lost upon me. Years ago an older gentleman who grew up in this house long before I owned it stopped by and asked if he could come in and see the old place, and how it has changed since his time here. He loved the chance to get to see how some things were really different with the house, but some things — including the old picture window — have stayed the same. Before he left, he stopped at the window and gazed up into the sky.
“When they put a man on the moon when I was a boy, I looked out this same window that night to see if I could see them up there,” he said with a crooked grin.
The old window is the first to frost up when the temperature drops, leaving hoarfrost designs on the glass. The glass itself is sort of wavy and it offers just a bit of unique refraction when gazing through it compared with its more modern counterparts. I appreciate the old window for the perspective it provides, and the lens it offers for the outside world.
Everyone views the small and significant happenings of life through their own unique lens shaped by time, experiences and world views. When we take in new information, it is filtered through each person’s individual lens. This, in general, is a very good thing. It leads to different perspectives, unique ideas and diverging decisions, even when based on the same new information. But because no one has all of the world’s available information and experience, each person’s lens is both partially right and partially wrong. Each person shapes their own lens, and each person’s lens also shapes them. It is this concept, I believe, that led Henry David Thoreau to write, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
As people move through life and refine their lenses, they tend to favor the information that best fits in with their unique viewpoint. This then encourages people to form communities, media preferences or political parties based upon commonalities of their points of view, so the validity of their individual lenses can be reinforced. If left unchallenged, this can develop a tendency for people to see only what they want to see and dismiss what they do not want to see. People do this all of the time, often unconsciously, reinforcing the view through their lens.
Gustav Klimt’s landscape floral painting, Bauerngarten, painted in 1907, sold for $59.3 million at an auction in Europe back in 2017. When I look at this painting, I see something akin to finger-painting work I did while in my pre-school years. I am quick to dismiss it and move on with my day. Obviously, though, others see something much more beautiful and worthwhile than I do, and that is just fine. It is wonderful, in fact. Challenges arise, though, when issues more pertinent and controversial than overpriced paintings are considered through differing lenses, especially when they impact our daily lives.
The last couple of years have really showcased a society of different lenses with plentiful new information to filter. I’m guessing this is something you’ve noticed.
As Ohio’s Country Journal closes in on 30 years of serving Ohio agriculture in 2022, it is our sincere goal to deliver pertinent information through the lens of rural Ohio. The very first OCJ was a trial issue that came out in September of 1992 featuring Mark Thomas and his ethanol-powered hot rod on the front cover. The first official issue, however, (Vol. 1 Issue 1) was in November of 1992 and featured pumpkin production (and some fancy painted pumpkins) on the cover. As we move into 2022, I cannot help but ponder the massive changes both for Ohio’s Country Journal, and the farms that were featured since our Vol. 1; Issue 1 came out. The decades that have come and gone have surely shaped the lens of rural Ohio as a whole and of the many incredible individuals who comprise it.
One thing that has not changed since November of 1992 is the old picture window in my old farmhouse that has witnessed far more full moons and sunsets than I. It shows its age and I’m reminded of its inefficiency every time the cold January wind blows. It should have been replaced years ago. Oh well. Maybe next year. For now, though, I’m still appreciating the view.