Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Liberation (photo)

I am not a mouse.

Before dawn, before the birds' song, before my first cup of coffee, I arose, donned my long underwear, thermal socks, and cashmere hat and exited my icy shack. Frost covered the windows, and the ground yielded underfoot like chilled cookie dough. As I traversed the 200-yard walk down to my bogged-down tractor, I noted with satisfaction that the standing water had formed into tiny, frozen ponds.

The weather man had been right for a change. Cold and clear. The mercury substitute standing at just above the 20-degree mark. Everything had a light coating of frost; preparing to shimmer the moment the sun crested the low eastern hills.

I climbed aboard and turned the key to the first position. The orange glow plug light came on and I paused for it to extinguish, indicating the machine, Tommy Mow, was ready to start. All was still. A commercial jet, chased by its contrail, made its silent, lumbering way across the sky. I turned the key full to the right and the engine cranked and caught immediately. Like an aging smoker Tommy expelled a few belches of black gunk and then ran smoothly. This time I checked carefully that everything was fully retracted. I grabbed for the seatbelt, but it was frozen to the chassis.

I revved him up to 2500 rpm, and put my foot on the accelerater. Confident, sure-footed and purposeful, Tommy rose up out of his lumber reinforced mud hole, moved forward to a small patch of high ground, obidiently turned to the right, crossed a narrow rivulet and was free. Like a returning comet we swung around the burn pile at the bottom of the garden, and headed home.

The sun rose, the birds sang our praises and everything shimmered.

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