What if? A powerful phrase that can be used to consider almost any chain of events with a new perspective. Can cast doubt on outcomes come to pass and cause speculation about consequences yet to come. Can inject the unknown into what has already been accepted as fact; perhaps too quickly.
There is a phrase I have heard since childhood. “Not worth killing!” I have always had trouble with that view or judgement. Now, in the case of hunting, it made a bit of sense. In considering a young turkey jake rather than a full-grown gobbler; or a white-tail toe head as opposed to a mature buck.
As it is often used in film-noir and more modern literature, referring to a criminal or opponent; much less so. I mean if the enemy or foe has gone far enough in their deviant or aggressive behavior to be considered for extermination, I always followed the “better safe than sorry” defense theory. Does the adversary need to improve in order to be worthy of execution?
I mean, especially in our earlier days of this country, often before states and sometimes before territories were fully organized. More justice was often achieved with bullets delivered from the creations of Samuel Colt than by words cited from the works of Sir Blackstone.
Now considering plants, where it is sometimes used; what weed is not worth killing? Preferably, the sooner the better. What ecology would not be better served if invasive species were exterminated before they can spread? Even the thinning of wanted plants is best done early.
But; what if the phrase has been incorrectly quoted? At least, at times? Now there is little doubt that Shakespeare did mean “killing” when referring to lunatics in one of his works. Not so sure in an old Ozark tale where it was said “…the Polks weren’t worth killing.” Not, at least, by the character writing back home.
What if….penmanship sometimes being what it is—lacking…….. the writer had meant to say “…..the poke wasn’t worth hilling”?
Instead of his being disparaging of a neighboring family, maybe the author quoted in the story simply was making observations about a poorer than average crop of greens?
Now it is here you the reader might be wondering how this bunny of a thought got jumped from the blackberry briar recesses of my mind. Glad you asked.
I had an uncle drop by the other day. Asked him what he thought of my garden. I was fishing for compliments, as my wife and I had just finished weeding the corn patch and hilling each row.
His response, “Liked it better when you was hilling children!” Side note—difference between the “K” and the “H” being used accurately here is critical!
“When did I ever ‘hill’ children?” I asked, hoping I had heard correctly his question.
“Lots of times. When you took young ‘uns fishing and gigging. When you used to take your male junior high students ‘coon-hunting. When you give them presentations and talk about young girls being ‘gifts from God’” the uncle replied.
“Hilling?” The look on my face telegraphed my bewilderment as much as the one-word response.
“Yes, hilling! The whole act. Taking away unwanted influences from their surroundings, as much as is possible. Then building u a reserve of protection and nourishment around their young lives. Their ‘roots.’ Hilling!”
I saw my uncle had a point. He continued to explain that such endeavors are important. Encouraged me to find new opportunities.
Hilling people more important than hilling potatoes? What if? Thanks for joining us!