Here’s a newly written essay that follows up “Right Rear Corner” of two posts ago. (If you recently read it in our local paper, you might want to skip this one.)
This stuff I write is just a hobby for me. I don’t get paid for it, and I can’t think of any way to pester you into buying something. Heck, I don’t even have anything to sell. I get a blast out of seeing how many of you view the pages, or ask to “follow the blog,” and I check the results way too many times a day. And if you feel compelled to make a comment or tell us something that you think of from reading this stuff, I’d love to hear it.
About three and a half years ago, I told all you lady readers a secret about men. It had something to do with the right rear corner of a Cracker Barrel store. Today, I’m going to tell another secret about men. I’m doing this as a service to all the men out there who this applies to. No, it doesn’t apply to all men, but it does apply to a good number.
Have you ever thought that sometimes there is a thing that you know and have been knowing, but you don’t know it well enough to verbalize it? And then one day at one moment, that thing that you’ve been knowing comes up from out of you, and you are, without any additional thought or difficulty, finally able to state that thing which you have been knowing for years? Has that ever happened to you?
A couple of days ago I was on a tractor running a “bush hog.” I was operating in rows of tall pine trees where every third row has been removed in order to thin the trees to allow more sunlight and water to get to the trees that remain. Before I cut the rows, they were full of wild growing “trash” trees and hedge. I cut in this same area two years ago, and the hedge had come back, some as high as six to ten feet—very unfortunate for me. So, when a fella gets started on these rows, they’re an overgrown mess. Usually, they can’t be walked through or ridden through on a four-wheeler—too thick, too high, too many briars. However, when the tractor goes through the lanes three times—that’s how wide they are—they are then perfectly passable by foot, four-wheeler, or even a truck if it’s not too wet. What only minutes earlier was an impassable mess is now clean.
And to be honest, there is a beauty about them. The lanes are long and straight, and one can see from one end to the other. The lane is shaded, but one can literally see the light at the end of the green tunnel. And the height of the trees is pronounced because they rise up straight out of the ground without any bushy mess at their base. Some horticulturalist or botanist may disagree, but the land looks so much better than it did before I started the cleanup. And it is much more enjoyable. It invites a walk or a ride through.
Driving a tractor and rotary cutters through a pine forest lane is no big deal; it takes no exceptional skill, just a little experience. It does take some patience, some time, a little effort, and enough “want-to” to sit patiently on that tractor while it does its work. It does give me, and I would assume others cleaning up their own places, a sense of accomplishment when I go home for the day after cleaning up the land.
Some years in some of the places I clean up, nobody ever sees where I’ve been, oftentimes only two or three people. I understand that; it comes with the territory, so to speak.
And now for that secret about men that I told you about and that thing that I’ve known for a long time that just rose up out of me two days ago when I was sitting on that tractor among those pine trees: they’re the same thing. Here is one part of the secret: middle aged men can get lonely. More specifically, men who no longer have their father, or father-in-law, or grandfathers, or their good uncles can become lonely for them. I’m not telling you this to feel sorry for me or for others like me; it’s just the truth.
Who else other than those people are likely to tell you “Boy, you got the land lookin’ good over here.” Or “Boy, that’s a fine pile of firewood you done cut and split there.” Or, “Hey Kid, you done raised up a good-lookin’ garden there.” Or, talking about something you made or rigged for some useful purpose, “Son, that’s alright right there; that’ll work!”
And here’s the last part of the secret: It does us a lot of good to hear that sort of thing; it helps to fill up what, or who, we’re missing. And sometimes it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the notice—that’s all we really need, just a notice, not a compliment—sounded like this: “Your Daddy and your Uncle (fill in the blank) sure would’ve liked the way you’ve got this land cleaned up.” Or whatever fixed up, or rigged up, or cut up, or stacked up, or raised up. I’m sure you get the idea. And, by the way, I’m sure that there’s an equivalent for the ladies—but, I’m just speaking from what I know—and have been knowing for a while.