To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions — Benjamin Franklin
My parents — and their parents — are from the Cumberland Plateau region of Appalachia. Because of my heritage, I’ve heard a lot of phrases that applied more to their way of life than mine. For example, grandpa would say, “You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Since I didn’t really deal with horses, the meaning was lost on me (until I asked what it meant).
They also introduced me to words and pronunciations that did not work north of the Ohio River. I remember purging words like reckon and druthers from my vocabulary during my high school years. Pronunciations proved more difficult — except for the easy ones like wash instead of warsh — and I remember a coworker looking at me, perplexed, saying, I didn’t know there was a ‘g’ in towards (towarge).
But some of the sayings, made sense then and make sense now, even if the origin no longer applies in the modern world.
One is ‘strike while the iron is hot’ a reference to a blacksmith’s need to work quickly and efficiently to form metal as soon as it is hot enough to mold — otherwise the metal cools off and becomes rigid — forcing the blacksmith to repeat the process.
Versa exemplified the concept one morning on our daily walk.
It was just after dawn when we were walking the tree-filled park when Versa zeroed in on a squirrel. I had seen her chase plenty of them in my backyard, so was not overly interested when she hunched down in the predatory mode and locked in on her prey.
Seconds later I heard the squirrel squeal and watched as Versa, holding the prey in her mouth, violently shook her head side to side killing the rodent.
Then the prancing began. Versa carried her squirrel around — then would place it in the grass and watch over it — or walk away, run back retrieve the dead squirrel and parade some more before eventually hiding the carcass in the woods.
She struck while the iron was hot. The opportunity presented itself and she pursued it vigorously and proudly displayed to her world what she had accomplished.
It reminded me of the old proverb, “a desired accomplishment is sweet to the soul,’ — and that I had a few things of my own to finish.