One of my best friends is a farmer in Acadia Parish, Louisiana.  Over the years with his sons, he amassed this amazing collection of John Deere toy tractors and combines.

IMG_0324What a magical display!  When I was a toy-tractor-lovin’ lad of 10 or 12, I would have been mesmerized at the flourescent gleam of row upon row of every sort of John Deere implement that ever rolled across the fields of American farms.

The display also reminds me of my one failed attempt at John Deere tractor driving when I was a 19 year old college freshman.  My north Louisiana roommate, whose family farmhouse was situated on a gravel road  3/4 of a mile from the Louisiana/Arkansas state line, invited me to come home with him one weekend in the spring.  It was March, I believe.

When we drove up at his family home place, his dad, nicknamed Hop, met us in the driveway.  Though I was a rank stranger to Mr.Hop, he gave his son and me orders to disc the field adjacent to the house.  That I had never driven a tractor before mattered not: there was farm work to do!  We didn’t even bother to bring our suitcases in but went straight to the task.

After a quick lesson or two in tractor-driving, I had that JohnnyPopper 2030 marching to and fro across the field, the disc blades breaking and parting the heavy sod.  I was pretty impressed with myself.

But at the end of one row just as the operation was going so well, I made a mistake—-I turned too sharply, causing the back tire or the tractor to engage with the frame of the disc.  Luckily for me, the clash between the disc and the tire caused the tractor to stall out and die.  Had the tractor kept going, that disc would have climbed that rolling back tirelanded upside down on my head.

I finished the job after my roomy came to [literally] back me out of the ham, but I also realized my shortcomings as a tractor driver.  I’ve nevere driven since.  I found myself later to be better suited for other pursuits:  Much better for me to compose a sonnet about tractor driving than to drive a tractor.