March 2014: The Children Are Tender

Caregiving, teaching little kids to read, and riding in the pickup with Farmer John; I tweet, pin, and blog, from my home in rural Kansas. If you've landed here looking for information about my books, visit my author's page by clicking this link: A. Born. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Farmer John Witticisms

It is a blessing that, after 40 years of marriage, my husband still has the ability to make me laugh.  But then, he's quite the entertaining guy.

For example, today he came to the back door mid-morning and requested a banana for a snack.  I hurriedly broke a ripe fruit from the bunch I'd stashed in the cupboard, and the end came open a bit.  "Sorry," I said.  It broke open.  Eat it soon." And I handed it to him.

He didn't immediately turn and head out the door as I had expected, but stood looking at the banana sorrowfully.  "Now the handle won't work."

I was bustling around the kitchen in an attempt to complete morning clean-up before I was due at a church meeting but this comment stopped me.  As always, with Farmer John, I suspected a practical joke of some sort.

"What are you talking about?"

"Well"--he held up the ripe banana-- "The curved end is the handle and it's at the top.  You open it from the bottom and then you have a handle."

I stared at him.  Over four decades of living with this man I've learned many of his idiosyncrasies: for example the twisty tie on the bread wrapper is turned three times, no more no less. And, refrigerator magnets are arranged upside down in a sort of "Kilroy was here" ritual.  I could go on and on.

And on.  

But this was a new one on me.  Bananas have handles.  Okaaaayyyyy.....

Later in the day I hopped in the pickup beside my farmer and off we drove through a bumpy pasture to where our ailing swather was parked.  I walked laps through the hayfield as John and his father repaired the machine, then John and I drove away, leaving his elderly dad happily making rounds in the big field, cutting neat swaths of fragrant hay.  We had gone just a half mile down the dusty gravel road when John suddenly swung the truck into a U-turn.

I grabbed the door handle for support and exclaimed, "What in HEAVEN's name are you doing now??"

"I left my cold chisel and claw hammer on the reels of the swather," he replied tersely.

We roared back into the field at high speed, John lept from the truck and began taking long strides through the field, zigging and zagging methodically.  I'd seen that cold chisel; it was about 12 inches long and was the exact color of the brown shadows cast by the tall grasses in the field.  I trotted behind my husband in a vain attempt to catch up, "You are never going to find that chisel," I said, just as he plucked it out of the grass and held it up in triumph.

"Here it is!" He grinned at me then turned and waited for his dad to roll up beside us in the swather.  As soon as the reels stopped turning, John fearlessly dove in amongst them, and almost instantly retrieved his hammer.  He waved his father on and returned to the truck holding the hammer high like a banner of victory.

He held it in one hand as, with the other, he turned the steering wheel and guided us back through the pasture gate.  He looked at the oddly shortened hammer fondly.  "This is the steel-handled hammer I threw so hard that it broke the handle.  I was mad because the cattle had broken down a brand new fence, and I grabbed the hammer and threw it at a fencepost.  It hit just right and the handle broke."  He smiled reminiscently.  "Amazing that a steel handle broke. But now this short hammer is handy for working in tight spaces."

White puffs of cloud sailed through a cerulean sky, and clouds of brown dust boiled behind us as we sped down the road; all was right with Farmer John's world once more.

"The cold chisel was no big deal," he said, "But this hammer has sentimental value."