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Gulls Following a Farmer on his Tractor, State Historical Society of Iowa (Date Unknown)
" … what else have we got to amuse ourselves with?"

The final few furlongs of Our Grand Refurbish seem to condense all the effort into a few remaining tasks, with each taking on the weight and importance of the sum of all the prior pieces. The final coat of paint goes on in Jovian gravity, heavy and dense. The last screw set seems to pierce stone rather than wood, the driver groans under the strain. Minutes no longer slip by, but crawl. The day seems too small to contain our aspirations for it and for ourselves. Kurt Our Painter puts his head down for a day of dedicated Tractoring, him seeming to possess a hydrostatic transmission with an amazingly low gear, capable of shoving his way through anything. His usual slow-motion Kabuki dance becomes, if anything, even more intense. He appears relentless, but effortlessly so. If the past few days have been short and slow, these next couple will might well turn endless.

A force propels us now, more pulling than pushing.
We could have mud up to our knees and we'd get through somehow. All of our plans now depend upon what we manage to accomplish as we exit. I hardly have a role now, more under foot than a helper. I can watch but the performances seem excruciatingly exacting. The carpenter fitting the final few cabinet pieces together, Kurt commenting and directing from his usual distance. He will not disrespect the carpenter's space but he will suggest when he sees something that might turn troubling. I asked him to say something when he sees something, for his experience seems superior to everyone else's in the room. With deference and respect, he brings something up and Joel Our Carpenter thanks him for mentioning it. There seem to be too many moving parts for any one person to keep track of them. Joel spends half the afternoon resetting baseboards which had been left for almost last on the grand to-do list. I offer encouraging words more for myself than for anyone else. This machine will not be dissuaded.

Tractors replaced oxen, powerful, slow-moving beasts. Some work just cannot be completed employing regular forces and seems beyond the strength of the horses and the hands. One tractor was capable of out-performing a whole gang of workers, however motivated. It motored through, regardless. And some human efforts require a similar focus, head down and relentless. And we are capable of working precisely in this way, maybe not everyday, but when conditions really demand this focus. Some even welcome this call, for there's something terribly ennobling about being involved in a final push or a transformational shove. Then, even excessive weight somehow seems bearable. There might not be any such thing as excessive expectations. This intensity cannot ever become a lifestyle, mind you, but must remain a sometimes, rather special thing. But sometimes, then, nobody's offended when asked to engage more intensely. Probably, nobody will even need asking. The contributors will sense that moment and simply lean into it without anyone directing them too. They, too, know what to do and when. They know when it's time.

At first, Our Grand Refurbish needed pushing off its dime. It needed a lofty vision wrapped in naivety. Later, it became fully capable of finding its own way, the path forward obvious and attractive. In its later days, it became inexorable. It would be finished come Hell, high water, or even winter. Snow fell that final morning, the dawn of the final push. The Muse had scheduled cleaners to come and cart away the dust, but the dust wasn't quite finished with us. We'll invite the cleaners back again next week to take care of the final rooms. Today, we'll be on auto-pilot, destination certain, almost home again. I'll be screwing hinges onto library cubby doors and slapping paint onto the front hall shelf. I expect I'll be screwing the shelf supports into place within the freshly-painted cabinets. Time will very likely not exist here today, for we will all be Tractoring. I think of this final nudge as a feast day of work where we'll be engaging with rich intensity. We might well overdo some of this work, but with few tomorrows left for this effort, what else have we got to amuse ourselves with?

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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