Saturday, September 10, 2016


   For our honeymoon house, we rented a cozy old farmhouse on 30 green acres with a small lake. The owner had moved to another state and didn't want the house standing empty. (That house still stands today, beautifully restored and much enlarged, though the 30 acres have been split and the small lake has not existed for many years).
    We didn't live in that place for long, as much as we liked it. In winter, the old coal furnace had a ferocious appetite we simply couldn't afford, and it was a chore just to keep the house warm on cold winter days.
    In summer and fall, however, it was a wonderful place to be--a fine place for honeymooners to roam together, particularly people who enjoyed the outdoors as Bob and I always have. 
    There was a sturdy red barn on the site, and one day Bob decided to give me some shooting lessons with a target he attached to the barn. I was an absolute failure; I literally COULDN'T hit the broad side of that barn! And the only gun he owned had such a kick it bruised my shoulder and knocked me backward every time I pulled the trigger. 
    The big green Oliver tractor was a different story. The landlord had left it with us for mowing purposes, and I happily learned to run it and just as happily assigned myself as Bob Moore's "lawn boy." I found it relaxing to sit on a tractor and mow. I loved the meditative qualities, and to this day if I'm trying to solve a mental block, I can get on my tractor and mow, and the clouds in my mind will miraculously clear.
    I do recall, over a certain period of time, when I was one of the few women in our then-small community who mowed by tractor. A few decades after our marriage, I was stopped in my lawn work and chastised by a well-dressed woman in an expensive car, who said to me, "Don't you know that women of your character don't do such things? Much less right out in the open where they can be seen by passers-by; mowing and tractors are men's work. Your husband should be ashamed!" 
    I jumped back on my tractor and commenced to wonder what "women of my character" were, exactly.
I resented the idea that something I enjoyed so much could be reserved for men only. But my husband was never ashamed of his tractor-mowing wife; and if he had been, I still would have fought to be the one on the tractor. I kept on with my mowing, and I still do the mowing.
   Over time, my tractors became newer, better, easier and more comfortable; and I was the one who would choose them. My husband often joked that it would have been cheaper to keep his wife in jewels than it has been to keep her in tractors. 
    I can remember every tractor we purchased over the years; and their good points and bad points.Then two decades ago, I met up with a used but well-kept John Deere, and it turns out we were made for each other. No matter what feature a fancy new tractor might add for my mowing, I stubbornly stuck by John Deere.
   In fact, if you drove by the Moore place this week, anniversary or not, you would have spotted Olde Rose with her vintage John Deere mowing the acreage, with a smile on her face!