I'm not looking forward to venturing into the field today.
Perhaps that's why I'm sitting here blogging, wasting the coolth of the morning. And it IS coolth--it's an astounding 74 degrees right now. In Louisiana in July that's tantamount to Satan putting Hell's thermostat from "Boiling Sinners Alive In Their Own Juices" down to "Balmy Bahama Evening." It's just not natural, I tell you.
See, we've got a big patch of field behind the house. About 40 acres worth, of which I own 5, and keep clean another 5. Back in the day, my grandparents had this big 40 acre patch, from the road to the bayou, but had no real desire to farm it. Farming, you see, is an expensive prospect, and was even back then. So, they sharecropped it. Strange, is it not, to hear a word you had to learn back in grade school history being used in a sentence? A gentleman and his three grown sons farmed it in my grandparent's name, with their equipment, and shared the profit. This went on for years and years, until my grandmother passed on and nobody really wanted to keep up with the sharecropping, as well as the sharecroppers themselves getting up in years and wanting to stop.
So, the land, as they say, lay fallow. And this is where it gets bad.
A bayou, you see, is a big sluggish brown-water ditch, and as such is home to all sorts of little creatures like catfish and turtles, water moccasins and frogs, which are prey for bigger animals like beavers and herons and bigger catfish, which are in turn prey for even bigger creatures like alligators, big water moccasins, nutria (think big-ass rats,) and rednecks (think big-ass, bipedal rats.) The bayou, in short, produces all sorts of unsavory creatures, which see an unmowed field as prime family-raising territory. This is why we keep it cut: to keep from being alligator and nutria'd out of house and home.
And my parents, being clever, started my brother and I at a VERY young age. There is a picture floating around my mother's house somewhere of my father riding the tractor around with a long rope tied to it's three point hitch in back. What's attached to that rope, I hear you ask? A Radio Flyer wagon, that's what, with me in it. And what's that? Another rope tied to the axle of my wagon? And what's attached thereon? You got it. My brother, in another wagon. Apparently we were foolish enough to ride around behind the tractor for hours in our little makeshift caravan. I distinctly recall attaching a THIRD wagon to the rear, in which our dog would ride, cushioned on an old bath mat. That's how country we were.
Little did I know my parents were already cleverly training me to like to spend hours and hours in the baking hot sun driving around in circles. I'm surprised I didn't become a NASCAR driver.
And the training program didn't stop there, oh no. My first driving lessons were taken on a tractor, and it was perched on the steel seat of an early 40's model 18 hp generic bone-buster tractor that I learned how to heel-toe a clutch pedal and shift gears, even though tractors that old don't usually have modern conveniences like gear synchronisers or soft leather padding on the shift lever.
As the years wore on and my parents realised I was ready but unwilling to take over the field cutting job they came up with the NEXT plan--pay me. I was paid by the hour to bake in the sun like a Christmas ham and get that lovely Bain de Sole' "San Trope tan," and was paid to boot. I don't know where all that money went, but it sure set the final puzzle piece for me. At this point I've been cutting that same field for about 27 years now, and it hasn't gotten any easier. It's gotten harder in fact, because after 27 years of jolting and tossing and slamming on a 40's model International Harvester Super A I've just about reached the limits of my cartilage and bone. But it gets done, for free now, because it's MY property that has to have the water moccasins and the nutria rats and the Chuppacabra kept off of, and because after a while there are certain ruts that you simply cannot get out of.
Like those in my field.