Today I am grateful for tractors. I recently took one of those silly quizzes on Facebook that determined I’m 100% Midwestern. No, duh? Some of my friends who have never even been to the Midwest scored 95%. Are those tests ridiculous? Really?
But then I got to thinking about one of the questions. Did you drive a tractor before you drove a car? Yes, as a matter of fact I did. I was about ten and my grandpa had a farm. Every Saturday I’d go with my dad out to the farm. If it was planting season I’d sit on the big orange Case tractor toolbox, next to the seat and my dad would drive it around the field, planting.
If it was harvest time, then I’d stand on the back rail or ride to the field on the wagon with the pitch forks and other guys who would move the loose hay onto a pile, filling up the wagon to overflowing until it looked like a mutant Chia pet.
I loved being on the farm. I loved being on the tractor. I loved being with my dad. No helmet. No seat belt. No safety harness. I lived. When I sat on that tool box, holding onto the fender with the huge wheel turning underneath it, my dad said. . .only once, “Don’t get your fingers caught or your mudder will kill me.” I never did. If I jumped off the wagon before he had stopped and twisted an ankle, he’d say, “Don’t come crying to me if you’re gonna be stupid.” Harsh? Maybe by today’s standards, but not back then. We were expected to have common sense and so we did.
I’m glad we have seatbelts and helmets and all manner of safety devices, but I miss those innocent days when my dad, jumped down from that big orange Case tractor, it sputtering and spitting in protest and said, “You drive! Keep it straight on the furrows. You’re grandpa won’t stand for crooked rows. . .and not too fast. Fast is NOT better!”
I moved into the driver’s seat with the loose cushion, leaned way forward so my toes could reach the pedals, grabbed the small door-knob on the steering wheel, flipped it into gear and I was off. . . like a herd of turtles, plowing my first field. My dad, in overalls, hopped back on board, “just-in-case” and sat on the tool box, laughing like a lunatic. “We ain’t never gonna get done if you don’t giver ‘er some gas!” I did, almost pitching my dad to the ground. Good thing I had showed him where to hang on to the fender.
So today I’m grateful for big old orange tractors and the silly Facebook quiz that gave me back a memory from long ago.