I have always quite fancied the Thomas Jefferson quote, “I am a fighter so that my son can be a farmer so that his son can be a poet.” That progression is evident within my own family. I am descended from fighters in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II, just for starters. To be sure, I have farmers in my family tree.
While I do a bit of writing, I like to think that this quote can be applied more generally to an easier life, and recreations other than the contemplative art of poetry. “So that his son can be a rock climber,” or “so that his son can be a brewer,” might have been alternative endings to Jefferson’s sentiment, and neither would have been wrong. Both are a different kind of poetry.
However, as I look over history, and Jefferson’s own life, there’s evidence that it’s not a literal generation by generation progression. No matter the state of war and peace, farming’s always been an important part of getting by. And then there’s Andrew Fletcher (the Scottish patriot, not the Depeche Mode guy), who wrote, “You write the laws, let me write the music and I will rule your country.”
Thomas Jefferson is best known as both a founding father and the third president of the United States. But he was also a farmer. And he did a little brewing*. He began experimenting in 1812, some 40 years after his wife had been in charge of the task as part of typical household duties. He was was tutored by the embattled Englishman (think War of 1812), Captain Joseph Miller. When Jefferson learned of his brewing expertise, he advocated for his freedom, not the first time I’ve noticed brewers getting preferential treatment. Eventually, Jefferson moved on to malting his own grain.
Fortunately for me, most of my fighting has been generally metaphorical. My farming has been more like gardening. My brewing has been a little more focused. While there’s a good deal of science involved, I’ve always known that I was a little more on the art-side of brewing. I suppose Jefferson would be proud.
*In the text, I included a link so you could read more about Jefferson’s brewing. Seriously, if this interests you, take a look. The page will take you to “The Philosophy of Making Beer,” by Ann Lucas, on the Monticello website. My post is a serious synopsis of Lucas’ hard work.