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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Fresh Crop Of (Stale) Rocks


{Editor's Note: This one is at least a year old. If you're at least a year old, you may have read it already.}

[Author's Note: There is no editor]


-Do you miss the farm, Mr. Perkins?
~Are you daft? Another year and a fresh crop of rocks.
-Crop of rocks?
~Have you never been where the trolley don't go? Do you think we pile those rocks along the plotlines to be picturesque for tourists?
-I take your meaning, but it would seem that a fresh crop is out of the question.
~They grow right out of the ground every spring.
-Now you're having me on.
~You get frostbite standing in front of the icebox with the door open, don't you? Have you ever been on a farm?
-A pig farm.
~They're all pig farms. except on most, the farmer is the pig.
-I still don't get the fresh rocks.
~Nature provides, I tell you. But it never provides what you want when you want it. Above all, it provides rocks.
-How do they taste?
~Like sweat. Every thing on a farm tastes like sweat.
-What about the rocks?
~Look, the ground freezes hard here. Rock hard.
-I'm praying for a stony silence, now, myself.
~You asked. The glaciers came through here a long time ago. Back before locusts and Republicans. And it spread rocks around. The devil's rocks. Smooth as cannonballs, and hard enough to turn a plowshare into, well, not a sword, but not a plowshare anymore, either. It turns it into the raw materials a plow used to be made from.
-I get that part. But once they're stacked on the corners, and the plow salesman is retired on your money, that's about it, isn't it?
~You'd think so. You'd think wrong. A farmer never thinks wrong. Because a farmer never thinks his troubles are over. A farmer knows when he's eating a turkey with one hand and holding hands with a pretty girl with the other, that things are going to go downhill soon. He feels about the same way when his hands are empty and the girl is ugly.
-My hands were always empty, and the girls were always ugly.
~That's the difference, see? At least the farmer's wife starts out pretty. The farm fixes that too.
-What about the rocks?
~I told you, the ground freezes harder than a banker's heart every winter. Everything expands when it freezes. Except the rocks. They're held there, in the ground, and a little space opens up around them. In the spring, during mud season...
-Mud season?
~It's right after black fly time.
-Oh.
~Anyway, that sun gets to working, and the water trickles down into the earth with the heat, and fills in that tiny gap under that rock with the slurry and gurry. Imperceptible. Like a raise in the army.
After many a year, that rock shows up, like a bald head, and you've got to pry it out of there before you lose another harrow.
-I get you. A fresh crop of rocks. Why are the walls so low, then? Should be Egyptian sized, by now.
~By the time you're at waist level with those devil's marbles, your greatgrandson has moved to Nebraska to farm in peace.
-Speaking of slurry and gurry, let's go get some coffee at my house. There's no farming there.

2 comments:

Tom said...

I'll vouch for this, in Wisconsin, growing up, one of the chores was "rock-picking". One of the most brutal, tiring, back-breaking soul-sucking chores of all time, for a lofty $2 an hour. I would rather have bailed hay all day rather than pick rocks for 4 hours. And yes, they're always there. Plowing just brings them to the surface faster.

Harry said...

Except in places like Iowa or the Idaho Palouse where rocks are endangered species and your feet can sink in a plowed field. Your hand can reach down a foot or more through the soil.