11.29.2007

Day in the Life


He rolls out a new round bale, forks a couple hundred pounds of baleage to the cows. He breaks the ice on their water. Throws a couple flakes of first-cut to the sheep. Grain to the chickens.

The chores done more quickly than usual, none of the typical savoring of the morning, or he’ll miss his plane. Still, he sets out for the airport with little time to spare: Cabot to BTV in 70 minutes, and perhaps another 35 before his flight lifts off. Close, but not nervous-close.

Until the gauges in the old Subaru go flat on the run-in to Montpelier. He knows this symptom all too well: Alternator. He acts quickly, makes it to the car rental counter in less than 5, is out the door in another 10, rolling in a new Outback, the seat warmer pushed to 11, the heat making him squirm a bit, but he’s gotta have it, gotta experience this slice of the good life, even if it’s making his ass sweat.

He makes his flight. He makes his connecting flight, even scores an exit row. He lands. Another rental, a short drive through the barrenness of small-town Minnesota. He reclines, watches a bit of bad TV, heads to the neighboring pub. Eats, drinks. Calls the wife.

She’s not upset, but that’s only because she’s been long-groomed for this life, for the sickening reality that, as she drives down the main drag of Vermont’s capitol city, the hydraulics on the 8-foot Fisher plow attached to the nose of the Chevy are failing, and now the plow is throwing sparks on Main St, trying to scrape the pavement off the road, and the boys are staring in wide-eyed wonder saying “what’s happening, mama? What’s happening, mama?” And it’s getting dark and it’s cold and he’s halfway across the country enjoying a two-beer buzz.

To recap: He is in Minnesota, chasing a story. Their car, a 1995 Legacy that’s about to turn 200,000 and might not be worth the price of the rebuilt alternator they’ll now have to buy, is stranded in the Thrifty lot. A few miles down the road, their Chevy is parked at the end of a long streak of pavement scrapings.

When one considers the goings-on in this world, it is small stakes drama. They remind themselves of this as they chat, telling their respective tales of woe. Soon, he’ll be home, and they’ll collect their broken vehicles, fix them, and carry on. They could wait until later to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Or they could do it now, separated by 1500-miles of America, he shivering under a cold Minnesota sky, she stoking the wood stove in their little Vermont home. And that’s exactly what they do.

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