Monday, July 1, 2013

Women who came before

I have to laugh, and maniacally, to keep from cryin'. I laugh, wondering what the hell my neighbors must think of me...something like; what is that crazy bitch up to now...
I had 55 ton of gravel delivered; it was part of some grant funding that I was awarded. Unfortunately the delivery driver wouldn't take it over my ditch bridge, and I don't blame him. It's kind of a funky bridge, thanks to the last contractor that was here. He sawed off the edges real close, making it a little slim for most big rigs.
Anyway, so this gravel pile, which will be used to mulch my impending lavender plantation is only about 2 football fields away, down one hill, across a swale and up another hill from where I had envisioned it being put. Had it been put there, I could have been more than happy wheel barrowing it, bit by bit, down hill to cover my 8 rows which are 100 feet long each, even if it took me all summer. But now, this conundrum of getting it - over there...
My 1940 Ford 9N tractor is a fine machine. I dragged an ancient one bottom plow thru 100 year old alfalfa to create this hill that will be blanketed in mature lavender plants. I mow pathways all about the place for the dog and I to walk about. The only problem with it is, it has no bucket-no front end loader. Which up until now, has not been a problem. I made an old fashioned stone boat from the hood of a derelict small pickup I have on site. With the tow bar attaching it to the tractor arms, I can load it with heavy things and drag it to Hell's half acre. But to put the gravel on it, 10 scoops at a time is not efficient. I really want to see this project through to completion. So I got the clever idea to hitch up the little box trailer that belongs to the riding lawn mower my wasband left in his wake. I bought one new tire, the other held air. I waited for the day and her heat wave to subside. It was 92 degrees; too hot for shoveling gravel.
I put the tire on, I hitch it up, drive it over my funky bridge. I back it up, turning the tractor's steering wheel the opposite way, and nudge the trailer right into the pile. I throw about 50 shovel fulls into it. And I wonder if she'll hold. Throw the shovel on, put her in gear, take it real easy cuz she looks a little squirrely. I get half way across the bridge and the arm of the trailer bends like aluminum foil. I'd really like to get the full trailer at least off the bridge. The contractors are coming first thing in the morning to install the new solar panel which will move water thru irrigation tubing (all part of the grant funding) and this is the only way across to the job site. But the arm of the trailer disintegrates before my eyes. The box full of gravel, sits back, ass end on the bridge, slapping its knee and is having a good laugh. The arm of it is now a stretched out, worthless gum wrapper and the bottom lip of the trailer's end gate is wedged down into the boards of the bridge. Stop pulling, I tell myself. Don't rip apart the bridge with your stubbornness. I stand there a good long while, wishing I would have listened to that little voice that wondered if she'd hold. Hello, ding bat, that was your intuition calling. Pay Attention!
This is when the laughing starts. The neighbors have been watching this all unfold from their couches, in their cozy homes, their bellies full from dinner, watching the alpen glow from the set sun. How can I be so clever and stupid all at once? I know I have less than an hour before I can't see what I'm doing for the dark. And I must make this go away so the contractors, first thing, can get to work.
I retrieve the wheel barrow. Put 10 of the 50 scoops in; wheel it the 2 football fields, not to the top of the rows, but the bottom. I dump it and spread it out. It adheres nicely to the landscape fabric I laid this spring. I like the choice of material, think it will work out fine. Just need to get it here. The 40 remaining scoops I wheelbarrow right back over to the pile, 10 scoops at a time. I can hear the neighbors turning off their TV sets; this is much more entertaining.
I grab an ice cold beer, I light a cigarette-something I only do if the day has been uncommonly difficult and walk the dog across the neighbors back 40 to the fence where there are horses.  The red tail screams at me for invading her territory at this lovely hour. We turn, head back. Think to write it all down, cuz I'm sure I'll be over it tomorrow. Hell, I'm already over it. I decide, while on the walk, that, as determined as I am to do this project, I simply am ill equipped. Either hire somebody. I refuse to let this place kill me. Hell, it ain't gonna kill me. I'm tougher than that. Think of the women homesteaders who made their way across the plains. They lived in tar paper shacks, with sod roofs. They burned cow patties for warmth in sub-zero winters because there wasn't a tree insight. They waited weeks for a neighbor man to deliver water from miles away because that was the nearest source. Sod was busted, rhubarb and lilacs, and vegetable gardens were planted! Food was put up, babies were raised, and they proved up on their land. Those babies are our parents, they are us...without those women, they who survived things way more difficult than any little trailer breaking, any pile of gravel needing to be moved or sod busted, or water carried...Well, we wouldn't be here.

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