It was the very first day of the new year, a Sunday, and although I’m not really a resolution-maker per se, I was determined to start the year off right. It was a few minutes before daylight when I slipped out the door to get after the morning chores. It was just a notch below bitter cold, but the wind from the previous night had abated, and though it was still dark, I could tell by the cold, heavy air that the morning sky was going to be dark and gray enough to prevent a glorious New Year sunrise. No worries, though. I wasn’t going to allow a little winter fog to dampen my jolly disposition.
It only took a couple minutes for my tune to change. After I checked the water and packed a couple buckets of grain to some bull calves in the pen next to the house, I jumped in the old ’93 Chevy flatbed pickup to fire it up and go load some hay to feed a bunch of heifers. I figured it was early enough that I could get some of the feeding done before church so I could semi-relax later in the day. I only had to back the old truck up about a foot before my keen senses alerted me that something was amiss. The old pickup had a flat tire. This was especially troubling because my next realization was that I knew I couldn’t find the spare tire for this truck the last time it had a flat. (And of course, I wouldn’t have wanted to take care of this little problem in the warm summer months when I hardly used the pickup.)
I ran down to the shop to grab the little portable compressor in hopes that the tire would hold air long enough to let me load a bale and get it fed off before the tire was flat again. Lucky for me, even though I could hear air leaking from the inner sidewall of the tire, I figured I could get a bale fed before I had to come back up for air, as it were. I pulled over to the stackyard where the tractor was parked and jumped up in to start it. But wouldn’t you know, someone (perhaps it was I) had left the key on and the batteries were drained enough to prevent the tractor from starting. It took me just a few minutes and a good set of jumper cables to get the tractor started, but by this time, the truck tire was woefully low on air again.
It only took me a few minutes to reinflate the tire before I sped off to feed the bale I’d loaded. Luckily, the patron saint of low farm truck tires was watching out for me on this Sunday morning and chose to excuse my minor profanity-laced tirade upon the initial discovery of my New Year’s misfortune. I’d have to repeat the procedure three or four more times after church, but at least I’d be able to get a flake or two of hay to all of the critters on the place.
My wife, ever abhorrent of tardiness, left for church without me. Two of my sons and their families from the other side of the state were planning on visiting that day and she wanted to get to the church before they arrived. All was well though, as I arrived and took my place in the pew next to her and my progeny, only a few minutes late. By all appearances, we had everything under control.
Later that evening, when all the feeding was done and I finally had a minute to relax, my wife told me of a conversation she’d had with a friend of hers who is relatively new to the community and who was seated a row or two behind us at church. This particular lady had watched as my wife took her seat in the chapel, followed shortly thereafter by my two sons and their wives. She wasn’t paying particular attention to the procession until she saw one of the daughters-in-law cozy up to my youngest son, who in turn put his arm around her as she rested her head on his shoulder.
I should mention here that my son bears a similar resemblance to me in several of his mannerisms and his voice. My wife’s friend, who is far from judgmental and as nice as can be, couldn’t help but go a little “church lady” in her mind as she noticed what appeared to her to be a peculiar familial relationship in the Marchant clan. She was, of course, quite relieved upon my arrival a few minutes later.
All of the events of that first day of the year kind of led me to a little stronger resolve to try to be a little better in the mundane and commonplace events of my life. Maybe I could be a little more prepared for the January flat tires with a little more attention to detail in July. Maybe I could offer a listening ear or a friendly shoulder or take a step back when a rush to judgment is so much easier. Maybe I am a resolution-maker, after all.