May 20, 2014

A Bush Hog is better than a BC powder for stress relief

      Imagine your noggin as a hand drum, and a Mento musician is pounding out a steady rhythm.  How would it sound?  Maybe ba-boomp-ba-boomp-ba-boomp—over and over and over.  That’s what was going on in my head Friday afternoon.
Maggie may be a mule, but she dreams about running in the Kentucky Derby.
If you are shuffling your bare feet in the sandy beach of Montego Bay, Mento music might be soothing.  But I wasn’t in Jamaica.  Instead, I was tugging on my tie and saying, “Come on, quitting time.  I need some relief.”  And I knew exactly what I needed, if the clock would just tick a little faster.
    Better relief than a BC powder was in a red five-gallon can at the farm.  All I needed to do was pour that diesel fuel in the tractor’s tank and climb in the seat.  It’s been a soggy spring.  Some pastures were waist-high.
     The animals have nibbled as fast as they could, but the mules, goats, donkeys and llamas couldn’t
keep up.  It was time for the Bush Hog to help chew into the lush fescue and Bermuda grass.  I like to hear the whir of a rotary mower.  No matter how much stress I’ve endured in previous days, the tension is released with a few laps around a pasture.
      There are days when you work, work, work and look back and ask: “What did I accomplish?”  An old carpenter once told me, “Son, today, we really made a showing.”  That meant he could look back and take pride in the visible work completed.  When you start the morning with a concrete slab and see four walls standing at pack-up-your-tools time, there’s a sense of pride and satisfaction.  Making a showing can quiet the hand drums in your head.

      By the time I had cut the first of five pastures, I couldn’t remember what was bugging me hours earlier.  With each circle of a field, I could see what I’d done.  There’s much to be said for “making a showing.”  I like the smell of freshly-mowed grass.  It’s natural, even if it makes me sneeze.
      But there’s something else I like about puttering on a tractor.  I get to look around and notice what’s going on at the farm.  Too many times we look without seeing.  Here’s some of what I saw:

•   The martins are back.  The gourd tower is loaded with some of my favorite birds, and they put on an aeronautical show.  The martins soared, dipped and rolled all around me.  Sometimes, it looked like they were fighter pilots on strafing missions over the hood of my tractor.

•   A lone crow was my companion, two days in a row.  Maybe I was stirring up crickets in the grass, because he hopped around less than 10 yards away.  And then, he’d fly over to the black board fence and perch, like a sidewalk superintendent. 

•   In the mule pasture, Ruby, Rose and Maggie seemed to enjoy my company.  That inspired the youngest, Maggie, to put on a show, too.  She’d race, kick up her back legs and bray.  Then she’d skid to a stop and look at me as if to ask, “Did you see that?”

•   Over in the donkey pasture, Otis demonstrated how donkeys get that dumb jackass rap.  Rather than duck into the barn or get out of the way, he chose to gallop in front of me, as if I were chasing him.

      When I parked the tractor, I thought: “Otis isn’t the only dumb one.  I am, too, for letting the week’s worries turn my noggin into a hand drum.”