Right now the majority of my husband’s time is spent cutting grass and trimming trees. At least this year, the grass cutting is much less time consuming. We found an old tractor for sale in good condition that came with several implements including a brush hog. Not only does the grass fall in great swaths, but the noisy blades even cut up small limbs and twigs. It certainly beats a weed whacker or our walk behind mower.
I’ve been dropping hints that a couple of mules would eat a lot of grass. I also mention that mules are multi-purpose. They can be draft animals and help with farm chores, even to plow the garden. They can also be ridden, which of course is my main motivation.
Of course, mules also have a reputation for being stubborn. A friend said that’s an advantage, “You’ll understand how they think.”
That didn’t sound like a compliment, but in all honesty, she may be right. Even as a young child if I made my mind up about something, there was little hope that someone could convince me otherwise.
The summer I was 5 years old, my father came home on leave from his ship’s time in Japan. He built a set of bunk beds for my older sister and me. They were all of one piece supported by four-by-fours. My parents made me promise, nodding my head and crossing my heart, that I would only go on the lower bunk.
After several weeks passed, my father’s ship left again. That summer was a time my mother called the “polio scare.” Every afternoon she insisted my sister and I take long naps in a darkened room. The very day my father left, my older sister and I were sent to our room. My baby sister, just a year old, lay asleep on a folded quilt near the bunk beds.
Mom was on a rare break with three little girls and a newborn son, enjoying a quiet house with a cup of coffee and the latest Saturday Evening Post. Suddenly there was an enormous crash. Mom jumped up and ran. When she burst open our door she saw baby Mary sitting on her blanket wailing, me some distance away and splashes of blood on the floor. Mom snatched up the baby screaming at us.
Jane yelled back, “It’s not her, Mama. It’s Pam, it’s Pam.”
Seeing the blood on my face, Mom put the baby on her hip and told me to come. Along the way to the bathroom, she put Mary in her crib. She told me to stand in front of the sink and with a cold washcloth, began to wipe my face, none too gently.
As she was wiping away the blood, she told me to open my mouth. “Oh, Pam you’ve knocked out all your front teeth.”
When the blood was cleaned away, I whispered, “Mom, my arm hurts.” That’s when she saw my left arm, crooked with a sharp point that almost broke the skin.
My mother didn’t drive, so Mrs. Jackavitch from next door took us to the U.S. Navy base clinic. They set the arm and sent me home, where my full arm cast brought me a certain celebrity status with my crew.
The summer wore on and my father returned. His first afternoon back he sawed the bunk beds apart. I overheard him say, “As stubborn as she is, she’ll try it again.”
More than likely I won’t get a mule. They’re pretty tall and I don’t think I’d recover quite so easily from a fall as I did those 60 some years ago.
My mother once told me, “Well, you’re stubborn but at least you’re not stupid.”
Not sure that was a compliment either.
Pamela Tinnin writes from her ranch on Pine Mountain. She can be reached at email@example.com.