Sorry guys, this is not a fishing story. Today's tale takes me a little further south where farmers are farmers, pigs are pigs and in a way, we hope the two have nothing in common
Edwin Johnson woke up feeling as if his mind and heart could no longer sustain his body. He has been feeling that way quite a bit lately. Ed knew the problem, but the solution had him bewildered. Life unknown path left him a widower at 67. The woman he so dearly loved after 48 years lost her earthly fight a year ago and every day seemed a bit tougher than the one before. His imperturbable upbringing told him the time had come to shake off the past and move forward.
One mode of survival meant cleaning up the farmstead. Folks from all about the county used to drive by and comment on the immaculately painted buildings, the manicured lawn and Betty's abundance of flowers. No more. Even the implements started to look neglected and no longer cared for.
Most mornings Edwin sat with his old cat, Scrunchers and thought about Betty. The years they shared together tilling the dark Iowa soil, building up the heard of prime beef cattle and traveling to the lakes in their Winnebago had crumbled to a pile of photos left on the kitchen table.
Edwin and Betty shared dreams about selling off the heard, jumping in the motor home and becoming nomads, free wheeling snow birds, drifting off to winter in Arizona. Memories, all Edwin had to live for, kept him bound and reclusive.
"Scrunchers, " Edwin said, "I think we need to go feed the cattle and perhaps think about cleaning out the barn." Scrunchers flicked his tail twice and walked uninterestedly to the door. An old cat who has heard the same story before seen barn mice as a better alternative than sorrow.
"No, today we clean, I mean it. There is no reason to sit here and wallow any longer," Edwin said to the departing cat. "Betty would have no part of this mess." He put his coffee cup in the dish pan and headed for the feed lot with a wagon load of grain.
This day Edwin decided to rejuvenate himself once more. He pushed back his thinning gray hair, put the seed corn cap, took a quick survey about the farm and decided to clear off the hay wagon. As he backed the green Oliver up to the hitch, he repeatedly had to remind himself this is what Betty would have him do today, so he pulled the wagon into the barn, took a deep sigh and started throwing junk out of his way.
"Yup, Betty sure wouldn't like the way things look around here. Guess one should start cleaning this place up," Edwin said, realizing he was talking to himself.
The July sun fell behind a stand of locust trees when Edwin tossed the last piece of unused equipment, parts and cans of odds and ends on the hayrack. Tomorrow he would pull the wagon to the front yard, put up a yard sale sign and be done with it. He walked back to the yellow frame farm house that he and Betty built so many years back.
When Edwin sat down at the table waiting for the frozen dinner to heat up in the microwave, thoughts once again of heading to Arizona come winter entered his mind. "Maybe I'm not so old that I couldn't sell out and move there permanently," he mused.
The next morning Ed awoke with a little more expectation from life. It was as though the junk laden hay wagon held the golden ring of life he so dearly reached for, yet always dangling within an inch from the hand. He couldn't explain the feeling. Life had to change. After his coffee and a bowl of Corn Flakes, Edwin unconsciously reached for a new seed corn hat. Half realizing he made a fresh step in life, he shrugged and pounded the yard sale signs into the dry Iowa soil.
Cliff Jensen stopped by first. He was returning from the feed store and knew as sure as gold if he returned home there would be work to do, soon an hour whittled away as the two men stood with one foot on the hitch of the hayrack talking hog prices, the Minnesota Twins and the broken flywheel on the Moline that needed repaired before the next hay cutting. He bought nothing. A few neighbors came by, picked up one or two cans of parts, kicked around on the soil, and complained about the current governmental leaders. They too left empty handed
Doris Jensen stopped by to see if her husband happened to be lounging around killing time. She bought a tractor seat, a bucket with a Guernsey cow painted on the front advertising some product or another and three five gallon pickle jars with wire handles, then left to find Cliff. By noon Ed only made a paltry fifteen dollars and a huge pile of farm junk still remained.
Right after Paul Harvey signed off with his "good day," tag, Ed heard a horrible racket coming from the front yard that sounded like a train derailment. He looked out the screen door and there sat a red International pickup rumbling from a rusted out muffler. The passenger door had a foot of electrical wire holding it shut. Some sort of racket was emanating from the radio that may have been music. Ed thought this could only mean trouble so he stashed his wallet under the sofa, walked out and expected the worse.
From behind the pile of old tractor parts a figure emerged. A forty-something petite woman with a butterfly tattooed on her slender forearm. She reached out to introduce herself. "Names Cassandra, but friends call me Prism."
Edwin just stood there as if every word he ever learned had been sucked right out of him.
"Do you have a name" she asked jokingly, raising her eyes up from under a pair of rose-colored-sunglasses.
"Oh, um, sure, name is Edwin but most folks here abouts call me Ed," he laughed, nervously wiping his hands on his overalls before reaching out to shake hers. "Um, that is sure some kind of truck ya got there."
"Yup, that's Sun Dog."
"You know, Sun Dog, the Indian who chases the sun and never catches it . . . is that English?"
"No mam, I'm part Swedish, part Iowan, and mostly old farmer."
Cassandra laughed. "Why you're a jokester, I can see it in your aura." Edwin did not ask her what it was she saw.
Settle in, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy your stay here at Shelly's. The pie is great, the coffee pot is always on and soon you will find this to be the best place in town. SOON TO BE AMERICA'S MOST READ BLOG