A Good One

February 21, 2013 § 11 Comments


This morning it was 5 degrees and blustery, with a noncommittal snow flurry swirling in the arctic air. It had snowed the day before, too, and what with the snow and the wind, the front hill of our quarter-mile driveway was host to some impressive drifts. I hadn’t plowed the first storm, since I’d yet to replace the lift chain that had broken a few days prior, leaving us with little choice but to scrape clean a mile’s worth of gravel road before pulling into Will’s barnyard. “Hey, Will,” I asked, “Would you be able to run us home?” Instead, he scrounged in his workshop for a random assortment of bolts and washers and chain and we cobbled together a temporary fix that would allow us to traverse the remaining four miles of road that separates our place and Will’s. This is one of the things I so appreciate about living in a rural community populated by resourceful folk: Things don’t stay broken for long.

Still and all, the fix was unlikely to hold up to the sort of thrashing a good plow session delivers, so I’d procured the hardware necessary to effect a more permanent repair. Which is how I came to be bent over the plow at 7 this morning, drilling and wrenching and pushing and cursing, at least some of which required the dexterity of bare hands. By the time I had everything up and running I was as cold as I’ve been in a good long while, and I ain’t talking the life-affirming sort of cold I spoke of a couple weeks back. No, I’m talking a cold so deep and settled I swore my bones hurt. With the plow fixed, and chores finished, I retreated to the house, where Penny had fried up a mess of bacon and a big ole pan of scrambled eggs, and toasted the two remaining sourdough bialys I’d made when we’d had company a couple nights prior. The boys love bialys, which, for reasons that thankfully elude me, they’ve taken to calling “toilet knuckles.”

After breakfast, the boys and I set out to plow, and almost immediately I commenced to dropping the front end of the truck into a ditch at the furtherest end of the driveway. We hiked back and I got the tractor going and puttered out to the truck, whereby I proceeded to extricate it with the log winch. I was warm now, and furthermore strangely pleased by this complication; I have always loved the honest challenge of a stuck vehicle, particularly when I have an arsenal of pulling implements at my disposal. With the truck freed, Rye and I finished plowing (Fin was off to his weekly wilderness skills school), then walked back to retrieve the tractor and there was a moment, with him seated on my lap and me piloting the big beast down the freshly plowed driveway and the sun almost breaking through the clouds that I thought it might be the most perfect morning of my winter. It made no sense and yet there it was. I’d been up since 5:30, gotten both fires going, made coffee, milked and done chores, fixed the plow, gotten stuck, gotten unstuck, scraped snow off the solar panels, and eaten breakfast. It was just a bit after 8 and in many ways, my day had not yet begun.

But already I knew it was gonna be a good one, that even if it somehow turned to shit I’d have the memory of that moment on the tractor with Rye, one of those immersive moments when I am somehow able to harmonize with all the disparate strings of my imperfect life and it feels as if everything is in tune. I love these moments, but am never able to predict or concoct them, and they seem to strike at the most unlikely times.

So I slowed the tractor down a bit to try and draw it out and Rye put a hand on the steering wheel and we rode home.






§ 11 Responses to A Good One

  • Sandra Ragsdale says:

    Very nice, as usual.

  • jenny says:

    i love the way you write about those special moments. you describe them so perfectly. i always know just what you mean. thank you for another great dose of inspiration.

  • maggiemehaffey says:

    So beautiful to read this Ben. You’ve captured in words one of those rare and elusive human moments that so often defies description but that we all know and immediately recognize. And isn’t it always during the storm that things break? Here, I cook the breakfast while my husband plows and repairs and swears and cuts his knuckles. Thank god for family. Thank you.

  • Dave says:

    I always find it amazing that the more appreciated moments come when we least expect them. I almost lost some coffee when I got to your boys name for bialys, which are indeed a fine old school Polish delight. I love them toasted with butter. I also noticed in the image above that your son (Fin?) has a Mora Scout tucked into his belt. I picked up one for my boy about a year ago, I think it’s a truly brilliant knife for a kid, and you sure can’t beat the price. Thanks for posting so much recently.

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Yup, that’s a Mora. We must have four or five of them kicking around…

      Did you get yours from Ragweed Forge? That guy is awesome.

      • dbelson says:

        I bought 2-3 of them off eBay for a fair price. Ragnar’s Ragweed Forge is quite something, thanks for the tip. I think I’ll have to put aside a little time to check out his website.

  • slstransky says:

    slow that tractor down as much as you can because they’ll be gone before you know it

  • Karen from CT says:

    You never know when those perfect moments will occur but if you are paying attention you will catch it. It is always the smallest and most unexpected moments that capture our heart and soul.

  • Sandra Ragsdale says:

    I thought of you when I read this quote today.

    “Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career.”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

  • [...] a big Ben Hewitt fan and this post in particular resonated this [...]

  • […] that sense of my life going through me. Of being right now. Of being here. I have written about it before; actually, I suspect I have written about it many, many times. I just haven’t always been […]

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