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A hope note

‘Put a little something back in the pot.’
I overheard my parents and other adults say that as I was growing up, maybe in a card game, or when money was being raised for some cause. I sensed what the words meant’ It’s your turn to contribute’ ‘ but I didn’t know the origin of the expression until I became an adult.
Apparently in the frontier days of our nation, when pioneers headed west, they came upon settlements or groups of other travelers who would take them in and feed them and allow them to spend the night. The next morning, grateful guests would go hunting before they continued their journey so they could leave behind a rabbit or a squirrel or a turkey in the pot to make up for what they had consumed.
I have heard of little cabins scattered throughout the Alpine mountains that have a similar history and function. They provide safety and refuge for skiers and hikers who get lost or who need a reprieve from the wind and cold. Each unlocked cabin has a fireplace, and all the finder has to do upon entering is strike a match and light the fire that someone else built. Before they leave, they are expected to return the favor and leave the fireplace ready to be lit by the next person who seeks shelter there.
We’re all burning wood that others have chopped. Our foremothers and forefathers bequeathed to us communities and parks and churches that they built and maintained.
Now it’s time for us to chop some wood for those who come after us to burn.
Or, to keep mixing the metaphors ‘ It’s time to put a little something back in the pot.

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