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Shannon Bardwell: Sounds in the Prairie


Shannon Bardwell



Early on, I started work for an insurance salesman on Main Street. He hadn''t had a secretary in a very long time. The only phone was on his desk. I sat at mine and began to gather implements of my trade from desk drawers, like a squirrel hunting for acorns. Every time the phone rang I had to dash from my desk to his to answer it. One day I got fed up with not having the tools I needed and threw a hissy fit.  


"I can''t work if I don''t have the tools I need to be the secretary!" 


Shortly after, a new phone was installed; I was given carte blanche at the office supply store across the street. Ever since I''ve been firm about having the proper tool to do the job. It''s just more efficient. 


In winter there''s little yard and field work to do in the Prairie. Even the greenhouse plants grow slowly. Last fall the pond was dredged to remove accumulated silt, the silt used to supplement the raised beds in the greenhouse. Now there''s just waiting for the rains to fill the pond again ... just waiting. 


A few jobs can be done in the great out-of-doors, but those jobs require tools, proper tools.  


Sam nursed a chainsaw for about 20 years. He regularly sharpened the chain and then proceeded to yank his shoulder out of joint trying to get it started. Often the pull rope came right out. The kitchen table became an operating table for the aging chainsaw. It went to the chainsaw hospital a few times but even they said they could make no guarantees; machines, like shoulder joints, can''t last forever. 


Virtually the same situation happened with the weed eater. Emergency surgery was required on the same kitchen table. You have to admire a man that can keep machines going in spite of the odds against him. You have to respect his willingness, if not his stubbornness. 


I shared my frustration from not having proper tools, learned from the insurance salesman. It''s admirable to keep what you have working, but there comes a point. It was time the tools go on to a better place -- the dump. 


Black Prairie Equipment had graciously nursed the old chainsaw so it only seemed fitting that Sam would pick out his new babies there. Sam had carte blanche to get new tools, tools that worked properly, no more fiddle-faddling around on the kitchen table. Shortly, ever-encroaching pampas grass was removed in the blink of an eye, eliminating hidey holes for critters intent on creating holes in the pond dam. Next, Prairie cedars lining the driveway and obstructing the view of the woods were buzzed into oblivion in a matter of hours. You know, you couldn''t see the forest for the cedar trees kind of thing. The weed eater has an attachment for pruning limbs; the old pear tree didn''t have a chance.  


Things are buzzing right along out here in the Prairie.  


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her e-mail is [email protected]


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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