A Golden Nugget

Once in a while life hands you a golden nugget. Last Sunday, Peg and I were at the Frankfort Farmer’s Market when the nugget appeared as a kid riding a pedal tractor down a painted track. We went right to it. The Will County Farm Bureau was there with a kiddie tractor-pull competition. They hitched a replica weight sled to a red Farmall pedal-car tractor, and joined fifty feet of 4×8 plywood sheets to make the track.  The big boys from the Farm Bureau did a great job of announcing the event. They rewarded each kid with a  ribbon and a prize to the winner. One thing I learned is that kids with short legs had an advantage. The tractor was a bit small for long-legged kids who couldn’t extend their legs into full stoke on the pedals.  Another thing became obvious, that is, the amount of weight placed on the sled makes a huge difference in the amount of effort required to pull it.

 

I watched the event to the end. Attending a local tractor-pull is on my bucket list of things to do. I’m not sure the kiddie pull qualifies as having seen one though. The kids did their best and I loved seeing them compete, it reminded me of all the days and events I ran for kids during the Boy Scout era of my life.

If you are not familiar with tractor pulling, here is a video of a highly modified tractor in a German big boys competition.

The Gift (A serial, part three)

THE GIFT (A serial, part three)

The little tree answered, “My name is Connie, short for Coniferous. How can I be so special? My work is to provide a house for the birds, and to shelter the rabbit that sleeps under my boughs. This past summer I had three families of birds living in my branches. What will they do without me to provide for them?”

“The Boss will take care of them,” said Morty, “besides, the many trees of the forest will help them. It is a great honor to do something special for Jesus’ birthday. Then, after Christmas is over, I will use your branches to warm my house. Please do it.”

Connie hesitated a bit and said, “If I choose to accept, then I am giving myself totally to the Baby Jesus. I will live only as long as the sap within my branches will support my needles.”

“I realize that,” said Morty, “that’s why I picked you. You are magnificent and when I am finished dressing you, I know you will please Jesus, and make him smile. I will have my friends string popcorn beads, painted pine cones, icicles, and snowflakes on your branches. I will lay strings of colorful lights on your boughs. Near the lights, I will hang crystal ornaments to reflect the light onto the needles of your branches. On your top stem, I will place a crystal star. You will look stunning. I’ll play Christmas carols and sing while I’m decorating so we can get into the spirit of Christmas.”

Connie agreed that pleasing Jesus on his day was important. He knew that Christmas day was special. This was his chance to do something he could not do if he remained in the forest and grew up for the wood mill harvest. Finally, Connie said,
“It will be an honor to be your gift to Jesus.

To be continued . . . .

The Gift (A serial, part 2)

THE GIFT (A serial, part 2)

Farmer Jim drove the tractor, and Morty sat on the trailer. When they reached the field Morty jumped off. With a saw in his hand he began to search for the perfect tree.

He wanted a shapely tree with branches all around. It could not be too big because his room was small. Morty wandered among the trees searching. Most were already five to six feet high or taller. Many had bare spots and deformed branches. With so many trees picking one was not easy. On the way to the farm, when he flew over the trees on his scooter, they all looked beautiful, but at ground level, they did not look as perfect.

Morty began asking the trees for help. “Please help me find the tree I need,” he said. “I want it to be as tall as I am. It must not be too wide. My tree will have a triangular shape, and full branches all around.” The trees responded by saying they were once exactly like that, two or three years ago.

After searching the forest for a long time, Morty stopped in front of a very tall tree.

The high tree said that he could see over the tops of all the other trees, and could see the tree that Morty wanted. “Follow this line of trees next to me,” the big tree said, “count off twenty trees, turn left, then count another five trees. There, in the center of a small clearing will be the perfect tree.”

“Thanks,” said Morty. He took the tall tree’s directions, and counted the trees as he walked. When he reached number twenty, he turned left and counted five more. There, in the center of a small clearing stood a beautiful spruce tree.

It was blue-green, and perfect. Morty stopped and stood still. He was speechless. He walked around the tree, looking for bare spots. He found none. It was as tall as he was too. The shape was a near-perfect cone. As he walked around the tree, he began talking to himself, “This tree will make a perfect present for my boss’s birthday party.” He admired the tree from all angles and could not find a single flaw. He finally broke his silence and spoke. “I’m Morty Angel, would you like to be my gift to Baby Jesus this year?”

To be continued . . .

The Gift (A serial, part one)

The Covert tree farm stretches across the countryside with pine trees of all sizes. Morty Angel can tell the age of the trees by how tall they are. The trees along the road to the entrance are a good example. Field number one has twelve foot trees. Next, is a field of ten’s then a field eight’s. Occasionally, a field was bare with only stumps protruding from the ground.

Morty came to the sign Covert Tree Farm, Christmas Trees for Sale,next to a road that led into a grove of very old spruce trees.

The tall trees shaded the forest floor, and kept it dark. The driveway was curvy, and made from gravel. Morty could hear birds flitting between trees. Beams of sunshine peeked through the trees. They looked like spotlights shining through onto the dark forest floor. Very little vegetation grew, except ferns; they require little light to survive. Morty steered his Skye Scooter through the forest over the twisty road. He was anxious to find a tree that would serve as his gift to the Boss. He saw an opening of intense light that led into a glorious meadow. This is where the tree farmer lived in a log home.

Another sign announced that parking was in the field behind the barn. A sign on the barn stated rules for cutting Christmas trees.

Rule One: Cut the tree at the ground. Do not cut in the middle of a tree.

Rule two: Use only the saw provided.

Rule Three: Bring your tree to the barn for wrapping.

Prices are $8.00 per foot.

Next to the barn, a tractor hitched to a hay wagon was running and ready to carry visitors to the cutting field. A cow mooed, and a horse whinnied from inside the barn. Chickens wandered freely around the horse and cow in the stalls, and in the barnyard pecking for seed. All around the barnyard meadow, there were trees and hills for as far as one can see.

Farmer Jim lives on the tree farm. He raises trees for a living. He sells some trees to visitors at Christmas, and he takes the very large trees to the lumber mill in the town. Farmer Jim always plants replacement trees after cutting a field. In this way, the forest continues to refresh itself. It takes forty to fifty years to grow a tree large enough to sell for lumber. It only takes ten to twelve years to grow a tree large enough for Christmas.

Morty loved scooting out to the Covert Tree farm. It is a beautiful place, peaceful, quiet, and majestic. Morty also loved to talk to the trees. When he was alone in the forest, he would hug the large ones. Farmer Jim never told anyone, but he had one very large field of old trees on his farm. He never cut these trees nor did his father, grandfather or his great-grandfather. Farmer Jim’s great-grandfather told him that the trees in this field were on the farm when he bought it. The trees in that field were very big and old. Some were more than two hundred feet tall, and the trunks were so large that the farmer could not stretch his arms around the base. Morty really loved these trees. The largest tree was several hundred years old. It lived through much of the history of our country. The big tree was a teenager when the very first settlers moved to the valley from the east.

Today, Morty came to the tree farm because he wants to surprise the baby Jesus on his birthday with a spruce tree. Morty will decorate the tree to make it special. He parked his scooter behind the barn, read the rules, picked up a saw, and rode out to the field of trees on the hay wagon.

To be continued….

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