guest post by jane!
Living in Austin for the first 7 years of my life didn’t leave many memories. I have more memories of living in New London (and almost none from living in Spicer).
But one specific memory (and possibly more will pop up as I write this), involved Charlie, myself, and a couple of tractors. We were gathering for something or other at Colettie’s home away from home on the George and Kathleen farm, a little half house connected to the garages set back near the barn and silo. Charlie and I were young. I couldn’t put an age to it; younger than 10 but older than 5. I’m not sure if we had already moved north, or were still living at the Red House down the road. What I do know is we were not old enough to drive tractors.
Being of small body and short-spanned mind, Charlie and I got bored with the adult talk at the gathering and asked to go outside. I believe it was summer because I don’t remember wearing a coat out the door. One of the main attractions on Kathleen and George’s farm is the barn, where all the hay is stacked, the cows eat, and the tractors live. I even got to name a cow once, but that’s another story. I wonder what happened to Red.
I digress. Charlie and I bee-lined it for the barn, saying hello to the cows that were lunching, breathing deeply to take in the strong hay and slight manure smell that comes with any farm. I might have suggested playing on the hay bales. I may have even suggested naming another cow. Charlie had a better idea. Let’s play on the tractors! There were at least two, one for each of us, and I took the front one. Charlie took the one behind, and wouldn’t you know, someone left the keys in it. I protested the idea of turning it on, but Charlie must have had a convincing argument. Or he did it without asking.
Either way, the tractor was on, and Charlie pushed the buttons in the right order to make it move. Who knew tractors could move so fast! Before I knew it, Charlie had rammed his tractor into the back of mine, jolting us a bit. I’m sure we had looks of panic on our faces. I’m sure we were nervous about getting in trouble. Before we could do more than blink at each other, a horde of adults stormed the barn with their own looks of panic and nerves. I remember George leading the pack with a look of terror on his face. Knowing tractors like he does, the noise we’d created probably brought the worst to mind.
We were quickly collected from the tractors and given a stern talking to about not playing around the farm equipment. At that point, I’m sure we were corralled back to the homestead away from anything that ran on gas.
I don’t remember much else about the day, just that we were lucky we didn’t injure ourselves. That might have been Charlie’s first run in with a vehicular accident. Who knew it would preface a lifetime of such events? (editor’s note: lifetime indeed – more on that later.)