It is not uncommon for people to stroll into the trading post and see me sitting on my keister visiting with customers. These same people often feel obligated to provide unsolicited opinions on my work ethic. To be sure, I am no stranger to hard labor. Heck, as kids, Craig, Steve and I were only slightly bigger than badgers when we started digging two miles of ditch each day. And that was through Bluff "hard pan", with only sharp sticks and baskets to work with! At the time, our attitudes were only slightly less calloused than our hands and feet. We were sun-fried crispy critters, ready to take on any job. Life was hard back then, but we were always up to the task.
Laurie & Barry Simpson.
Some would say I am prone to exaggeration, and that my perspective on the world is more than slightly askew. In describing my storytelling capabilities, my daughter McKale frequently quotes Ben Franklin, who said, "Half a truth is often a great lie."
I freely admit that I have lost a little ground over the years, but I can still put in a hard day's work. I can wipe down counter tops, run a vacuum and schlop a mop with the best of 'em. There is, however, one larger than life, supernatural being which I cannot hold a candle to, and I am often confronted by her when I go home at night or have a day off.
The other afternoon I was sitting in the shade of our carport, admiring the small slab of concrete sidewalk Laurie and I had just poured and wondering where such a skinny woman found so much strength and endurance. My wife had pitched in from the get-go, working right along side me hefting 60 pound bags of Ready Mix and shoveling half a ton of mud.
There I was, feeling like I had just wrestled a cranky croc through three periods of overtime, and she was calmly shoveling dirt into a wheelbarrow to move across the yard. I sighed deeply and forcefully pushed myself out of the chair. Hitching up my dirty jeans, I stumbled in Laurie's direction. By the time I reached her, I had regained my inner composure and presented an outwardly cheerful and robust attitude. "Here, let me do that for you," I said in a macho, manly manner.
Taking the shovel from her dainty but diligent hands, I quickly filled the wheelbarrow and allowed her to move the load to a new and more convenient dump site. The lower portion of my back complained bitterly, but I refused open protest. It took us about an hour to relocate the soil, and all the while I looked forward to regaining my shady perch and dispatching a tall, cool drink. That, however, was not to be.
To make a long, painful story short, that woman worked me from dawn to dusk. She and I pulled every noxious weed on the place; trimmed bushes and trees; cleaned and rearranged the carport; and planted, moved and replanted flowers. I managed a short break when Alyssa drove me to the transfer station south of town to disperse chunks of busted-up concrete, grass clippings and other various and sundry articles of refuse. As the sun neared the western horizon, I imagined we were through for the day. Nope, the garden needed planting. I began looking forward to a stretch at the trading post and cafe to get some rest.
I recall watching a biography on Ben Franklin once and learning that he is believed to have practiced a little self-promotion; allowing himself to be seen as hard working. In doing so, he promoted witticisms such as, "There was never any great man who was not an industrious man" and "Trouble springs from idleness and grievous toil from needless ease." Franklin thought it wise to practice what he preached, so he would rise early, load a trolley of Poor Richards Almanack and publicly wheel it about town distributing the popular paper. Ben could have learned something about "real work" from Laurie.
Some time around 10:00 p.m., I fell into bed heavily braced with Ibuprofen. I was tormented by my physical exertions and wondered if the morning would bring about traction. Laurie strolled in looking only slightly tired. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she looked down at her feet. "Look at that," she said, "I think I broke my toe. I wonder when that happened?" Somehow I found the strength to sit up and look at her damaged appendage. Shaking my head at her high tolerance for pain, I told her to lie down. "No." she said, "You worked hard today, go to sleep. I have some ironing to do."
With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.
Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post