We all know Veruca Salt, the spoiled brat in Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the 1971 movie version I grew up with, I distinctly remember her lines “Daddy, I want an Oompah Loompah and I WANT IT NOW!”
What appealed to me about Veruca Salt in those days was the way she got what she wanted from her spineless father simply by screaming and stomping her feet. It was never like that at my house. It was Herman’s way or the highway and don’t stomp your feet; it will leave marks on Helen’s newly buffed linoleum.
When I was Veruca Salt’s age I wanted a horse. I had an idea we could put a horse over on The Farm and voila! I’d be an equestrienne extraordinaire. I didn’t understand the investment required in horse ownership. A few years ago, I went to a horse show at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Massachusetts and thought to myself “Well, here are all the little girls who asked their fathers for horses and got them.”
My father never actually said “No” to my request for a horse. He just said “We’ll see.” This hazy, noncommittal response allowed me to continue in my horse dreams for a while and also think about what might be involved in owning one. It must have occurred to me at some point that a horse left alone on The Farm would quickly be attacked by coyotes. As it turned out, I used my paper route money to buy a bright yellow Huffy 10-speed bicycle at Zayre and this turned out to be a good $49 investment. I used the bicycle for exercise and for commerce; delivering my papers faster every Sunday and then zipping around from house to house during the week, collecting payments quickly and efficiently.
I recouped my initial investment in about one month.
Today, I’m scheming out something new in my mind. I’m re-reading Eliot Coleman’s The Winter-Harvest Manual. Coleman wrote this now out of print spiral-bound document in 1998 and it was a predecessor to his book The Winter Harvest Handbook. It has all the technical instructions for building a commercial greenhouse that doesn’t require heat.
It’s probably too late in the year to build this now, but I’m going to keep thinking about it. I’m not going to stomp my feet. I have a more thoughtful and deliberate approach these days, doing cost benefit analyses and reality checks along the way.
My brother, Mr. Jimmie, might say:
“Bingo, that’s how things get done.”
But just for fun:
“Daddy, I want a hoop house and I WANT IT THIS SPRING.”