Sometimes you can just tell. Things head south from the start. Yesterday morning it was raining. Not in a toad-choking way, but in a very wet way nonetheless. It had started sometime in the night. Being wet rather than any sort of monsoon, I didn’t hear it roar on the tin of the house roof. So the day started off with a very wet non-downpouring sort of rain. Not auspicious.
I left the house a little before 7. In the dark. Anybody who lives north of Montreal is laughing at me, but that’s one of the things I resent: getting up in the dark. Coming home in the dark. We need a day stretcher (actually for more than one reason…). As Gordon Lightfoot wrote in “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” the dawn came late and breakfast had to wait. Dawn was late but in this case, breakfast didn’t have to wait. The bacon was burnt instead, as a substitute. I saw a church marquee one time that said “we trip over molehills, not mountains.” I hate burnt bacon.
Maybe the whole thing got started last night. The day ran long and I didn’t get back from down east until 7 PM, by which time it was working pretty hard on being dark. My stomach growled. My muscles do this work every day; they weren’t sore, just bone tired. There were 3 large ash logs in the International. They needed to be dumped off. The stomach and the muscles won a brief debate.
Perhaps it was a hybrid of “live in the moment” and “strike while the iron is hot.” Before the rain, the ground was like concrete. The next morning the soil had developed a lubricity akin to axle grease, a fact I didn’t discover until after I got the International stuck. Sometimes it is possible to get unstuck by raising the dump bed. The logs slide off, giving some forward push to the truck. The act of raising the bed shifts the truck’s weight to the rear wheels, increasing traction. So that’s what I did, and it worked.
Sometimes the “rules” that apply to one discipline conflict with those of another. That was the case here. The rule of stuck is this: once you get moving, don’t stop until you are somewhere you’ll be able to get moving again. The rule of dumping is this: put your bed down as soon as you can. Failure to do so can result in ripped-down lines. And when the bed is up, it’s a funny thing, but the center of mass is a lot higher. Which means what? You ask. Well, it’s easy to tip the truck over. Not the desired future condition. Usually the arbiter of such conflicts is to choose the option with the least negative consequences. Stuck is better (less bad) than tipped over. I stopped and put the bed down. Stuck again. No logs to dump out, this time. There it sits, waiting for a drier day.
Getting the logs unloaded wasn’t really the goal; it was necessary, yes, but I had a trailer rented and was supposed to meet a friend for breakfast at 8:30. It was already 8. I had been at this for an hour already. The trailer was to go back to the rental place, 25 minutes away. The international was stuck. The light plug on the trailer was boogered up (not on my time) so it wouldn’t plug in to anything, and the trailer had a flat. Call it aggravational therapy.
There was an old diesel pickup truck. Kind of cranky and idiosyncratic. There was a hitch on it and it would pull the trailer if it would start, but the truck came from South Carolina and it likes its warm weather. It too would hibernate if allowed, I think. With the correct combination of imprecations and incantations, it was cajoled into starting with a belch, a puff and a roar.
I hooked up to the trailer. The old air compressor sputtered to life with a whiffle and a whirr. The flat took on more of a roundness than the shape of a circle with a chord cut off. The taillight wire got wrapped around the jack. No taillights. Rainy morning. I’m wet through my wooly shirt. Slate road. Slate sky. Lots of spray. Not really a best management practice. That particular disaster (the one related to “things that can happen when you have no taillights on a dark rainy morning”) was not visited on me.
Goo-bleep. My text tone. Eric: I’m here at the restaurant. I replied There in 15. The lights all ran green. I was there in a jiffy.
How’s it going, he asked.
Well, I conquered Asia this morning.
“Yes,” he replied. “But can you keep it?”