An annual ritual in the country is the spring grading of the driveway. I start looking forward to it in December as the ruts start out slow with the first few snowfalls, then quicken and deepen to dramatic Grand Canyon proportions as the winter progresses.
There are often weeks at a time that I can’t drive up the driveway in the winter anyway, but when I can drive up, the ruts are a nightmare. The ground soaks in foot after foot of snow, creating slush all the way to the Earth’s mantle.
Small children have been swallowed up by our driveway.
Driving up and down the driveway in this condition is akin to a rollercoaster ride. The ruts are numerous, and uneven, leaving you to bounce and jerk and listen to the unholy sound of scraping against the bottom of your vehicle. The ruts are that deep. By the end of winter, wheels sit so low in the ruts, the bottom of the vehicle scrapes the ground in between. And oh, sure, just try to drive on the non-rutted in between parts.
That doesn’t work. Mario Andretti couldn’t negotiate this driveway without falling into the ruts and once you’re in the ruts, you are no longer in control of the vehicle. You just close your eyes and try to survive. I’m just kidding about the closing your eyes part. I hardly ever do that when I’m driving.
Eventually, someday, it will not be quite so bad. Layer after layer of rock, year after year, will build up a stronger base. But rock is expensive and has to be bought a little at a time, and when you’re building a farm from scratch, you’re starting from nothing.
I was SO excited about getting the driveway graded this year that I volunteered to do it!
You know when you’re baking? Or knitting? Or planting peas?
You don’t run into all these “CAUTION” and “WARNING” signs.
I had a brother who died before I was born. He died ON A TRACTOR at my grandparents’ farm in Oklahoma. He was 13. He had been visiting with them for the summer and was learning to drive the tractor. By the time I came along, my grandparents had sold the farm and moved to town. I don’t think they ever got over that event.
My brother’s name was Stanley.
52 gave me instructions on how to operate all the gadgets and gears and doohickeys. It was all completely inexplicable, though I did like this little knob with the rabbit image for HIGH and the turtle image for LOW.
What, was this tractor manufactured by Aesop?
By the time he’d finished giving me all the directions and I’d finished reading all the “CAUTION” and “WARNING” signs, I had backed up about 10 feet and we both knew I wasn’t touching it.
And so he graded the driveway, back and forth, back and forth, scraping the ridges down by dragging the edge of the bucket attachment across the ground.
Because we don’t have any other attachments.
And I was very happy and grateful to have a newly-smoothed driveway.
And everyone lived.