I grew up in a time of utility.
Practical trucks for practical purposes.
When air conditioning was an unnecessary luxury,
And all of the stations played on the AM dial,
That crackled as flashes of lightning stab across the plains-flat fields.
Our truck was colored crayon-red.
“Let’s take the truck,” the magical words for
An errand with Dad, always adventures added.
Loading tinder-dry firewood with his leather gloves,
ill-fitting, still sensible, just right for my ten-year-old hands.
Then a quick visit to Great Grandma’s farm,
to chat and watch her fry slabs of salt pork at her cook stove.
After fortification-by-coffee, we park by Upper Twin Lake, windows rolled down,
Snippets of stories float in the air like mayflies.
Of wicked-bad snowstorms, duck blinds, and tornadoes.
Peering over the dusty dashboard at the oat field rippled by the soft summer breeze,
Carrying a hint of heavy, humid air with the scent of a dirt-soaked downpour.
I push the door open to scoot out.
And my skin sticks to the plastic seat.
Dust devils twirl up from the gravel road and recede into the ditch.
Just content to watch the storm slowly build in the distance, but it’s
Time to drive home
And stack a good day’s work
Out of the truck
Before it rains.
Fishing poles and tackle, bait and bucket, lawn chairs and lunch,
Lifted from the truck box.
We perch like two crows on the tail gate,
munching chips and sipping cold grape sodas while surveying the pond.
Redwing blackbirds grip the cattail stalks and warble from the reeded shore.
We let the birds carry the conversation.
Cast a line and wait.
But there are fat frogs to chase and tadpoles to catch in mom’s blue mason jar.
Can I keep them as pets?
Monarchs tumble-ride the breeze from milkweed to milkweed.
Dad scoops full the heavy steel bucket with pond water,
and plops in our catch with a splash.
With a scrape of metal rim on rust, pack back into the truck,
Piles of gear
And a jar of tadpoles.
On the road, grey dust plumes up from the tires.
Holding our dinner,
In the back of the red truck.
We steer out into a spring-muddy field, thumping over the unplanted cornrows.
We collect rocks for our fieldstone fireplace, made with mementos
From the old farms of my family.
Ol’ Red’s loaded down with armloads of cobbles
carefully rolled into the muddy truck bed.
Rocks polished by time.
Some furrow-split by a tractor,
Others whole and studded with quartz or agate.
Occasionally, we find a stone with history.
An ax-head, flint arrowpoint, or beveled tomahawk left behind
by the Dakota Indian tribe who once lived at the shores of our lake.
Those treasures are reserved for old cigar boxes
Or as bookends against Black Beauty and Charlotte’s Web.
We kick our boots against the cab door frame,
loosening the mud chunks covering our feet heel-to-toe.
A half-ton of heritage.
In Dad’s red truck.
The featured image “Old Red Truck” is (c) Tom Darin Liskey and used here with his generous permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
Annie Nardone is a flannel-clad, cowboy boot-shod adventurer who seldom travels with a map because joy and surprise are discovered in the journey! Her sincere passion is the reintegration of the arts and humanities with theology and the Christian imagination. She holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University and writes for Literary Life and the quarterly magazine, An Unexpected Journal. Annie resides in Virginia with her Middle Earth/Narnia/Hogwarts-loving family, and an assemblage of sphynx cats and feline foundlings who read with her daily. In a poll taken among friends, six things that characterize her include: books, C.S. Lewis, spontaneous adventure, Shakespeare, caffeine, and cats.