farmer’s wives, irish poets and digging in the dirt

Aug 1, 2013| Leave a comment

Here’s a 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS parked on a quiet street in Philly. From the El Camino Wikipedia entry: “The body style originated in Australia. It was the result of a 1932 letter from the wife of a farmer in Victoria, Australia to Ford Australia asking for “a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays”. My father owned a similar style Ford Ranchero and is a farmer but he doesn’t go to church because of all that nasty proselytizin’ and preachin’ stuff. I think the old man’s religion is digging around in the country dirt and watching things grow. There’s a real sense of satisfaction that comes with assisting nature in the growing of food and providing it to others. Kind of like The Force from Star Wars in that it surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. Plus the old man has been referred to as the Southern Yoda with all of his tidbits of wisdom. One such nugget in reference to how much torque should be applied to a pulley nut on my old VW Beetle went something like this, “Right before it breaks off, stop.” On my 20th birthday he called me early in the morning and said, “Wake up and piss! The world’s on fire.” Not exactly galaxy-binding words but they did stick with me. I’ll leave you with a few opening lines from Seamus Heaney‘s poem Digging which I often quote in relation to my old man:

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man

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