Outfitting The Farm
Summer is here, I told my husband, as California did not truly have a spring, and so I was unaware of its existence. The animals noticed the sudden warmth, too. The dog lay unmoving in the grass, legs and head stretched out as far as possible so as to allow every inch of fur to be penetrated by the sun. The indoor cats began to protest loudly if the sun had risen and we hadn't yet pulled back the curtain from the window at the head of the bed. Once open, the four of them would race to the top of the pillow pile, each quickly trying to asume the warmest, most heat-drenched spot before the others. Then the elaborate settling down ritual would begin, arranging paws and ears so that no part would be in shadow. Often this would necessitate the cramming of face and legs directly against the glass, thereby ensuring the utmost of solar benefits.
But while the animals were ready for a toasty nap, I was raring to go, and so we headed to the Big City (population 9,600) to hunt for equipment and supplies.
"Lovely weather!" could be heard wherever we went. Everyone was happy and warm, and there was a rush to buy seeds and rakes and even tiny seedling plants. The man who sold used tillers was completely wiped out of inventory.
"I may have two available soon," he said, gesturing toward a rusty pile of parts laying on the ground out back. We asked how much; we were desperate. Maybe he'd put us on some sort of tiller waiting list.
"One-fifty to two hundred. I don't like to go above two hundred," he said, but offered nothing beyond that.
We pointed to the fifty or so riding mowers parked around us like some sort of lawn tractor trainyard.
"What about these?" If we couldn't till, we could at least cut the grass.
"All repairs," he answered, looking up at us with an ever-so-slight smile on his face. No wonder he didn't bother with a tiller waiting list.
We left his shop without leaving our name, bemoaning our fate as we drove down the road. Here it was practically the heart of the gardening season already, and we had no tiller. We couldn't afford to buy a new one, and obviously every used tiller within miles had already been snapped up. We were do distraught that we took a wrong turn--and then another and another--and were soon hopelessly lost. Just what we needed, we said. Tillerless and lost. What had we done to deserve this?
But then we saw it. A bright white tiller sitting in a front yard and wearing a little sign, For Sale $75.00. We were saved! A screech of brakes and shouts of joy. A few wrods, a short demonstration, and within minutes our new used tiller was strapped down in the pack of the pickup. The guy even threw in directions back to the highway for free. We headed home, visions of juicy, ripe tomatoes dancing in our heads.
But then the unthinkable occurred. It got cold again. It didn't happen overnight; it sneaked up on us.
"High only 50 today," the forecasters would say. We ignored them. But then the ice hit, proving, for the first time of what would be many, that the most predictable thing about the weather in Missouri is its unpredictability. We were forced to reconsider our position on the seasons. The tiller was relegated to the barn, and I went looking for those boxes of heavy sweaters.
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